Director Macdonald finds District’s ‘real texture’

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“State of Play” aired in Britain in 2003, but Mr. Macdonald’s involvement means the story has been updated to include the current crisis in print journalism. Mr. Crowe’s character is an old-fashioned investigative reporter whose editor teams him with a young female blogger and insists he get a juicy story fast to prop up the failing newspaper.

“I wanted to show that he still exists in a ‘70s world, an analog world. There’s something quaint about that … It’s a world that’s falling to bits. The newspaper office has water stains on the ceiling, there are 20-year-old computers and all that stuff,” the director says. “But I wanted to make the point, he is a heroic figure. These people, journalists, are vital to the smooth running of democracy; they’re guardians of democracy who ask difficult questions of those in power. Those are the checks-and-balances functions of newspapers, and it’s possible to imagine in five, 10 years’ time that newspapers have disappeared. It’s a worrying trend. It’s going to be a great time to be a corrupt politician in this country.”

The film’s extensive use of District locations actually helps tell that story in a way that couldn’t be done on a Hollywood set.

“Mount Pleasant is a wonderful neighborhood. I thought a liberal bohemian journalist like Cal, who’s stuck slightly in the past, it’s the kind of place he might live. The multiculturalism of it, with the Guatemalan restaurant down below,” Mr. Macdonald says. “Certainly, in L.A., we wouldn’t have had the specificity.”

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