Showing posts with label Dustin Hoffman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dustin Hoffman. Show all posts

Sunday, 5 May 2013

All the President's Men

This 1976 political thriller is based on the book of the same name by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. It stars Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as the two reporters who were responsible for uncovering the facts of the Watergate Scandal which ultimately led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974. Nominated for eight Academy Awards it won three and is often regarded as one of the best political thrillers of all time.

The movie manages to capture the sense of urgency, frustration and fear that must be present inside a major newspaper office as its staff are working on a sensitive story such as the one depicted here. It portrays journalistic workings in what appears to be an accurate way and follows the story from beginning to, not quite the end, but a satisfactorily conclusion. The central partnership is strong and ebbs and flows from distrust to jealousy to solid teamwork and mutual admiration and respect. The film also gets to the heart of the Watergate Scandal, introducing a lot of characters who would otherwise have been lost in history.

Saturday, 18 February 2012


Outbreak came at a time before infection type disaster movies were the mainstay of Hollywood. Since 9/11, film makers have shied away from the terrorist type disaster movies of the 1980s and 90s and films such as 28 Days Later, Rec and Contagion have taken over from the likes of Die Hard and The Siege. So Outbreak was perhaps slightly ahead of its time. I am too young to remember its initial release in 1995 but I can imagine that its actors were as big a draw as they are today with some of them at the height of their careers. Morgan Freeman features, a year after The Shawshank Redemption, Cuba Gooding Jr was a year away from his Oscar win for Jerry Maguire and Kevin Spacey had appeared in Seven and The Usual Suspects in the same year. With the additions of Dustin Hoffman and Donald Sutherland, this film is the definition of an all star cast.

The film is about a virus that is found in Zaire which later turns up in a small town in California. It has mutated and infected the town’s population and a team of military scientists which includes Dustin Hoffman and Cuba Gooding Jr must battle both the virus and the military to save the town and possibly America itself.

The plot is fairly formulaic with few surprises. Due to the nature of the story there is also little peril. At one point, the President orders the infected town to be bombed but you know this will never happen in a mainstream Hollywood movie. In another scene, Hoffman and Gooding Jr are in apparent danger when a plane is on course to hit their helicopter but again, you know this won’t happen. I think this is where films such as 28 Days Later and Children of Men have an edge as the danger feels more real and the characters more at risk. The film also features a lot of plot explanation which gave me the feeling that the writers thought the audience was too dumb to understand certain parts of the script. There was one very good plot device in which the outbreak of the virus in the Californian town happened in a cinema which I thought would have increased a cinema audience’s fright/enjoyment.

Kevin Spacey after being shown the finished film

Considering the film contained such an esteemed cast I didn’t feel like any one of them excelled. Either they cancelled each other out, weren’t trying very hard or the script and direction didn’t allow for any great performances. I have a feeling it is down to a mixture of the last two.

The film hasn’t aged too badly considering it is now seventeen years old and one of the two countries in which it is set no longer exists but this is a nuts and bolts disaster movie with a cast that promises a better film than it delivers.