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All the President’s Men

All the Presidents Men  

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  1. 1. Should All the President’s Men be included on AFI’s Top 100

    • Run that baby!
      17
    • You don’t got it.
      1


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17 hours ago, Stephanie said:

I really agreed with Paul and Amy. I liked the movie and thought a lot of it was cool, but it had me wanting to rewatch Spotlight. I'm in favor for Spotlight or even Zodiac replacing it if we need an "investigative journalists changing history" type of movie.

I agree with you up to a point. I did see Spotlight first and this absolutely had me wanting to rewatch it, because I could see the influence this movie had on those creators, however I would think that they both could stand the test of time and live on the AFI in harmony with one another. I know that we have obvious limited space, but if we can have a million Scorsese or Spielberg films, then I think having both All The President's Men and Spotlight can be possible.

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I find that Zodiac really holds up great to multiple viewings. I doubt that it would make the list (since it wasn't a big hit and it didn't win any Oscars), but it MIGHT be the better film.

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On 4/13/2019 at 8:29 AM, Susan* said:

I should have remembered that the worst time to listen to any podcast is when it's talking about a favorite movie!  I kept wanting to hit my head against my car window.

I expect to see you back when they get to the Godfather movies.

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On 4/11/2019 at 11:35 AM, AlmostAGhost said:

It does lead me to something I was wondering: does being a "true" story affect your views on its greatness (either positively or negatively)?

Well, it affects how I feel about the quality of a film overall, and how I feel about its various strengths or weaknesses.  A lot of movies are concerned about depicting human beings in a way that seem human like (maybe not Tommy Wiseau movies, but most movies).  Movies based on real events are also at least somewhat concerned about depicting those events accurately.  In theory.  In practice, I find that they usually don't.  I think a line from the movie feels apt:

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If you're gonna do it, do it right. If you're gonna hype it, hype it with the facts. I don't mind what you did. I mind the way you did it.

Which, since I haven't read All the President's Men or know the details, I can't say the movie fails one of the very lines it gives.  I find myself coming out of movies based on real events suspecting that they usually do.

Especially as they start to resemble what resemble fictional films.  This is actually my first time watching it, and with my usual reservations about the true-events based movies, I'm overall positive on this one.  It probably helps that I do like the cinema verite style used in some of the 70s films. 

Some criticisms though:

I was concerned about how much it flirted with being a political thriller (as it progressed it made sense, but the all-encompassing conspiratorial nature of it, thinking of the early librarian phone call, seemed a little dubious in how it was portrayed). Though, this weirdly does add another texture to my memory of The Conversation.  Just the phrase, 70's paranoia.  I think this is influenced by a growing sense of, "man, a lot of today's crooks just seem too... dumb.  Just too dumb to pull of a conspiracy."

I also wonder if we could have gotten some more background texture beyond news events for conveying the sense of the passage of time (unless I missed something throughout the film).  e.g. changing of seasons.  They were on this story for a few years.

Watergate was probably too sprawling of a thing to do everything, but I believe there were more breaks in the story than just what Woodward and Bernstein covered (though, as the line goes, "Watergate wasn't an issue, until it was."  I know we got the NY Times story on the banks, but I think long term, having slightly more of those in the movie probably would have given a better texture to it all.  Though, maybe that would have gotten us back into sprawling territory that wouldn't have feasibly fit in a 3 hour movie or would have been too unfocused.

 

Watching this has got me wanting to go back and re-listen to the Slow Burn, season 1, podcast, which I did listen to the first episode again.

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I actually loved the scene with the White House librarian! I think that very well could have been the way things went down, but more than that, I loved how they played the scene. Hoffman's all flustered and excited and walks up to Redford, and as he's telling Redford about it, Redford's already writing the story in his head, and thinking to ask for a comment on why she would change her story. That scene just shows how well the two of them dance together on screen, and how they worked together as a team. 

I don't think you need any backstory on these guys. The American public sure doesn't have a ton of backstory (though in today's age we can) for its journalists. You know what they write. And we as an audience know that Woodward had only been with the post a few months, and Bernstein had been there a while. Woodward was more buttoned-up, young guy who stuck more to the rules (the scenes of them debating what's fact and what's inference are fascinating), and was less willing to push boundaries, but was dogged in his fact-finding and super quick on his feet. Bernstein, on the other hand, while young, had been there for a while, was more of a free-wheeler (cared less about ironing his shirts), and was willing to blur ethical lines to get someone to open up for him - like when he was asking the secretary about her ex boyfriend, or the scene with the bookkeeper. He was willing to  make people uncomfortable if it got him where he was going. Also, he was put on the case, not because he was the best, but because he had connections. And he was persistent. He was waiting outside the office when Woodward was called to cover the Watergate arraignment, and he spends that day in Florida to get the subpoena'd phone records. And he was a good writer. He knew how to write up a story so that it wasn't just telling the facts, it showed why it was important. 

One other thing I noticed about the movie was that it sets up a lot of juxtapositions of TV news vs. print journalism. The movie opens on TV coverage of Nixon flying to the capitol to address a joint session of congress, and the news reporter is giving the dullest of live reporting about how the President is getting to and entering the capitol, and the movie ends with a scene of Woodward and Bernstein set up at their desks with mounds of paper around them, diligently typing away as Nixon takes the nomination for re-election. My sense is the movie is getting at the necessity of print and investigative journalism in a time when everything is on TV. That also resonates now in our time of "fake news." The Washington Post and the New York Times fought significant legal battles in the 70's and this movie shows maybe better than any other the importance of journalistic investigations of the government to shine the spotlight on, oh, the administration using the intelligence community to commit widespread actual spying on political opponents. 

This probably is one of my top movies. I'm a politics nerd, which is why I moved to Washington, and I love investigations.. so this hits my sweet spot. But I also think it's important as a movie that I think really seemed to capture what it was like to get these mangled, loose threads of the investigation and put it all together. It's a factually dense movie with a lot of moving parts, and not much action, and maybe it's my own experiences at play, but I find it gripping when they're interviewing people to hear what they're going to say, and feel that excitement of not knowing whether the few people who know what happened are going to shut down on you. And, as a lawyer, people's memories get real hazy when you're trying to nail down facts and you have no 5th Amendment defense. Anyone who's seen a congressional testimony knows the "I don't recall" defense. 

The last thing I'll say is how much I appreciate that they used accurate filming locations around town. I really enjoyed the sight seeing. So many movies are "based in" Washington, but you never get to see it. Anyway, much of this is rambling, but I'm just in love with this movie.

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19 hours ago, ol' eddy wrecks said:

Watching this has got me wanting to go back and re-listen to the Slow Burn, season 1, podcast, which I did listen to the first episode again.

Slow Burn, season 1 is amazing. I learned so much about Watergate listening to that. Highly recommend it! 

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I'm two weeks behind on podcasts so bare with me as I make some comments.

1. Paul, I believe you kinda swept up our feelings about Snow White into the wrong points. While yes we did acknowledge there is some problematic things that don't hold up and can be sending out bad messages to kids, most of us had actually avoided that conversation because it's way too easy to only pick out those areas in a movie from the 1930s when obviously times have changed in the last 80 yeas. Instead our conversations really centered around whether or not this story was good enough on it's own to make the list, because to me the animation isn't the only thing worth noting.

2. I definitely got their yin & yang vibes from the get go. To me, I believe that they became one entity because of that! They filled in each other's gaps with this story so well that they became one person easily referred to as Woodstein. I think Robert Redford was easily recognizable as buttoned up and more respectful to the people they were interviewing, and very obviously respected women more, and Dustin Hoffman portrayed that sleazy womanizer (that we now know he was in real life *insert kermit tea gif here* but that's none of my business) rather well too. If Woodward was the lesser writer but the better one to gather hard provable evidence, then I think they do a great job of showing Bernstein as the direct opposite - the one who gathers some shady evidence that's harder to prove but writes much better.

3. Paul mentioned at the beginning that he didn't think this would have the same emotional weight as it did in the 70s because of the time away from Watergate, but I wholeheartedly disagree. This was a good 15~ or so years before I was born, the movie being ~13 years before, so this is not something I ever got to experience, but it would be remiss for me to say that I am not experiencing this now. They definitely draw on the parallels between then and now, but this movie honestly opened my eyes to what actually happened, and it scared me slightly to see the exact parallels to our country today. Because of this I think this movie now more than probably 10-20 years ago this movie holds waaay the fuck up. Also, it's sad to think that I learned more about what happened from viewing this movie than I did in school, because everything about American, Texan, and world history needs to be condensed into one year every time. I don't think it was actually even mentioned until I was a junior in high school, and even then I think it got so heavily condensed that I certainly didn't learn all of it.

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On 4/16/2019 at 10:34 AM, WatchOutForSnakes said:
Quote

One other thing I noticed about the movie was that it sets up a lot of juxtapositions of TV news vs. print journalism. The movie opens on TV coverage of Nixon flying to the capitol to address a joint session of congress, and the news reporter is giving the dullest of live reporting about how the President is getting to and entering the capitol, and the movie ends with a scene of Woodward and Bernstein set up at their desks with mounds of paper around them, diligently typing away as Nixon takes the nomination for re-election. My sense is the movie is getting at the necessity of print and investigative journalism in a time when everything is on TV. That also resonates now in our time of "fake news." The Washington Post and the New York Times fought significant legal battles in the 70's and this movie shows maybe better than any other the importance of journalistic investigations of the government to shine the spotlight on, oh, the administration using the intelligence community to commit widespread actual spying on political opponents. 

This is such a good point and brilliantly said - something I never noticed and I've seen the movie many times. The fewer investigative journalist outlets we have, the more evil people get away with in politics and business on a national and local level. Older movies that were serious about print journalism are hard to find but Sam Fuller's Park Row is a great one - Fuller was a reporter before he was a director and he financed and produced the movie himself. It' s about the early days of cut-throat (almost literally) tactics to jockey for readership and is really good. TCM shows it occasionally; they showed it at their film festival in 2018 and John Sayles introduced it, giving such a great history of journalism and Fuller. 

 

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