Thursday, February 23, 2012

Keaton's "The Paper" an entertaining journalistic romp

This is really not a review blog, but a blog about digital journalism and journalism and writing in general, but once in a while I have to do some movie reviews, especially those related to the profession that are extremely well done. Right now, I am in a bit of a journalism movie kick, ever since I started my Netflix trial account, and my queue is full of flicks related to this specific genre.

Last night I took a break from my GRE studies and watched "The Paper" starring Michael Keaton Glen Close and Marisa Tomei. In fact, this Ron Howard vehicle about a New York news reporter working at a small newspaper, in addition to being a great drama, also features a veritable who's who in 1990s TV and film actors.

There's Randy Quaid as the slightly eccentric and paranoid columnist, there's Robert Duvall as the ailing, aging alienated Editor in Chief, and there's even a whimsical performance by Jason Alexander of George Costanza Seinfeld fame.

There's also a cameo by that weird guy from the Seinfeld episode in which Kramer goes to L.A. and gets framed for a murder he didn't commit. Apparently this character actor was in demand at the time, as the killer in the TV show and as a bungling, wordsmith in this movie.

Yet the best thing about the movie is its frenzied, franatic pace. Even though it's somewhat dated now with ancient computers and references to beepers, director Ron Howard does a nice job of illustrating what it's like to live in the crazy world of deadline driven journalism, in a major metropolitan city like New York before the turn of the century.

Keaton really shines as the protagonist who has to choose between the profession he loves and the lifestyle he lives and between his pregnant, insecure wife (Tomei.)

If you ever worked in journalism you will appreciate some of the slice of life bits in this movie, like the rookie photographer who is sent out on a major assignment in search of the perfect page 1 shot, or the hustle and bustle of a hectic newsroom. However, you don't have to be in the industry to appreciate it.

If you're looking for a good Netflix recommendation to kick back with, you could do a whole lot worse than this 1994 drama. The funny thing is my teacher recommended this movie to me years ago and I didn't get to see it until now. Do you know of any other good journalism flicks I should watch? Go ahead and let me know!

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