Time to do some writing again. Saw this for the first time last night.

You cannot not deny that this isn’t a great movie!

As a piece of filmmaking, it is an absolute cracker. Both Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman were at the absolute peak of their powers, and their portrayal of the driven Washington Post investigative reporters –  Woodward and Bernstein – all corduroy suits, dishevelled hair, cigarettes and half-mast ties is superb. The old stagers of the newsroom are also great, particularly Jason Robards as Ben Bradlee, the editor in chief. The cinematography is also superb, the aerial shot of the Library of Congress, and the shots of Woodward’s battered Volvo cruising the night-time streets of Washington DC give some clue as to Michael Mann’s formative influences. But there is art here too; the typewritten titles, and the Teletype machine accompanied by 21-gun salute narrating the denouement of the story are effective devices underscoring the words as weapons theme here.

The newspaper industry has changed a lot in the last thirty years, to the detriment of proper investigative reporting as is depicted here. A court piece about a break in at an office building could not possibly command the attention of two staff writers – particularly if the editor had some nice pictures of Madonna to put on the front page. The methodology of the editors fighting for the front page, and the journalists reaching for the phone book rather than referring to Google, shows what serious business journalism used to be. And the outcome of the story shows what power the press has and how it should wield it.

As a piece of historical drama it is incredibly informative. My knowledge of Watergate went something like: break in – blah blah blah – corruption – blah blah blah – Nixon resigns. Now I have well and truly filled in the blah blah blahs and the level of the corruption and double-dealing occurring in Washington and within the Republican Party is truly astonishing. It is a shame then that the film concludes with Nixon’s re-election before his resignation because there were doubtless more rotten links in the chain flushed out by Woodward and Bernstein. It is also, in a way, a pity that this corruption was exposed at all – for we all now expect our politicians to be corrupt. If it is their job to protect the best interests of the electorate should they not use every method at their disposal? If one side fights dirty, the only choice is for the other to fight dirtier.