The superlative British miniseries becomes a smart, soap opera-free film courtesy of The Last King of Scotland
's Kevin Macdonald. His writers, including Tony Gilroy (the Bourne series) and Billy Ray (Breach), haven't simply condensed and Americanized the six-hour series--they've reinvented it. Now set in Washington D.C., veteran journalist Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe, replacing Brad Pitt, who dropped out over script changes) still collaborates with editor Cameron Lynne (a delectably imperious Helen Mirren) and junior reporter Della Frye (Rachel McAdams) on a story involving Cal's politico pal, Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck), but there's a new subtext behind their plunge into sex scandals and corporate malfeasance, since this State of Play also eulogizes old-school beat reporting, and in interviews, Macdonald has acknowledged the influence of newsprint classics like All the President's Men (the Watergate Hotel even shows up as a location). So, while Cal and Della, the Globe’s blogger, try to determine whether the congressman’s aide Sonia (with whom he was having an affair) died at her own hands or the hands of another, they're also fighting for their careers and the survival of their ailing paper. Stephen's political rival Senator Fergus (Jeff Daniels), does his best to stymie their efforts, but PR flack Dominic Foy (Jason Bateman) becomes a reluctant ally. Though fans of the series may miss a few characters, like Cameron's son (played by James McAvoy in the BBC version), Oscar-winning documentarian-turned-filmmaker Macdonald remains true to its spirit. Be sure to stay through the poignant end credits, during which he returns to his doc roots. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
Academy Award®-winner Russell Crowe leads an all-star cast, including Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams & Helen Mirren in the blistering thriller about deception, manipulation & corruption. When D.C. Reporter Cal McCaffrey (Crowe) is assigned to investigate the murder of an assistant to an up-and-coming politician (Affleck), he uncovers a conspiracy that threatens to bring down the nation's power structures. In a town of spin-doctors and wealthy power brokers, he will discover one truth: when fortunes are at stake, no one's integrity, love or life is safe. From director Kevin Macdonald of The Last King of Scotland, State of Play brings together gripping performances, riveting suspense and is "sophisticated, intelligent and powerful" (Shawn Edwards, Fox-TV).