We know it can be overwhelming to choose a movie from the 900+ now streaming at SBS On Demand. In this new series, we suggest movies best watched back-to-back (i.e. 'Watch this, then that').
In our era of near-constant political scandal and outrages at so-called ‘fake news,’ it’s comforting to remember the vital role that a free press plays within a democracy. Despite President Donald Trump’s efforts to paint them as enemies of the American people, journalists can and do keep the bastards honest. Following the trail of disparate crumbs of information, digging into the dark nooks of companies and organisations, or the shadows lurking at the ends of vast corridors of power, journalists piece together stories that make for more than just good reading. As seen in the recent Oscar-winner, Spotlight (2015) – with its true story of the investigative unit at The Boston Globe who uncovered extensive child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church – journalism can also have life and world changing impact.
Focused on the integrity of the investigative process, Spotlight takes many cues from Alan J. Pakula’s taut political thriller All The President Men (1976). Set predominantly in the newsroom at The Washington Post, Pakula’s film follows real-life journalists, Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) as they follow the crumbs, from a seemingly innocuous break-in at the Watergate complex in June 1972, all the way to abuses of power in the Oval Office. The reporting on the Watergate scandal led to the resignation of then president, Richard Nixon in August 1974. Pakula’s meticulous recreation of the Post’s newsroom, the constant buzz of activity, and the sheer volume of actual physical research we see Woodward and Bernstein undertake, astounds even more in our era of lazy Internet searches and mobile technology.
Watch 'All The President's Men' at SBS on Demand
Drawing on an earlier collision between American politics and the media, Good Night, and Good Luck (2005), explores the important role the media played in toppling Senator Joseph McCarthy at the height of his anti-Communist witch hunt. Set in 1953, around the CBS late night news program, See It Now, George Clooney’s second film as director (he also co-wrote the script), is a stylish and smart dramatisation of the conflict between a man of integrity, journalist Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn), and a man of more dubious attitudes in McCarthy. Like Woodward and Bernstein, Murrow and his team – including producer Fred Friendly (Clooney) and reporter Joseph Wershba (Robert Downey Jr) – see it as their ethical responsibility to directly challenge the government of their day. Ultimately Clooney is less interested in McCarthy’s horrors than he is in the comprehensive work the journalists did to expose him, often at great personal and professional risk. Not willing to compromise or be bought, we see journalists being their best, and as a result, we see the best that Americans can be.
Watch 'Good Night, And Good Luck' at SBS On Demand