Movies

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• ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN is a detailed and thoroughly engrossing account of the early days of Watergate, as seen through the eyes of the two Washington Post reporters whose painstaking work led to the downfall of the Nixon administration. William Goldman's screenplay and Alan Pakula's direction capture the excitement of investigative reporting, as well as its frustrations, without either glamorizing or debunking it. Dustin Hoffman as Carl Bernstein, and Robert Redford as Bob Woodward, deliver intense performances without falling into the cliches so commonly encountered in "newspaper" movies. They portray two young reporters attempting to do a thorough job, while contending with skeptical editors, official conspiracies of silence, and pressures for them to drop the case. Amazingly, All The President's Men comes across successfully as a one-issue movie. Neither the shrill liberalism of the Washington Post nor the self-righteous "middle-of-the-road" policies of the Nixon administration are given more than passing mention. The primary focus remains on Watergate, the abuse of authority and systematic lawbreaking by an administration which considered itself above accountability. To a public slowly becoming complacent with the seemingly successful resolution of the whole Watergate episode, this movie provides a jarring reminder of how much of the early revelations depended upon blind luck and circumstance, as well as the patient, often unrewarded work of two dedicated reporters. The movie stops well short of recording the downfall of the top men in the Nixon administration, but it details with methodical precision the early breakthroughs that eventually exposed the whole web of corruption and lies. Rated "PG."

• The good news is that Audrey Hepburn is back. The bad news is that she's back in ROBIN AND MARIAN, a lumbering beast of a movie that attempts to paste together at least three conflicting styles without rhyme or reason. It tries to be an adventure movie, with Sean Connery as Robin Hood returning to Sherwood Forest 20 years after his early exploits; a sardonic legend-buster, making fun of the fact that Robin and his Merry Men are mere shadows of their younger days; and a romantic drama, with Audrey Hepburn as the older but still beautiful Marian, falling in love with Robin Hood a second time. Connery and Hepburn turn in performances far better than the movie deserves, and manage to stay in character most of the time. Supporting performers, however, are locked into off-key roles that break with traditional legends but fail to sustain their own believability. Especially jarring in this respect are Robert Shaw, portraying the Sheriff of Nottingham as a competent administrator rather than a tyrant; and Richard Harris as aging, dissolute King Richard, a former idealist who now murders children for sport. Bereft of any core, the film goes wildly out of balance, projecting energy without purpose, satire without object, atrocities without villains, romanticism without values. Richard Lester's energetic direction is wasted on James Goldman's sporadically inventive but thematically fractured script. Rated "PG."

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