- Posted: 23rd Sep 2011
- Category: Reviews
by Ali May
Page One is an intimate and refreshingly honest portrayal of a year on the New York Times media desk.
Making a film about people who sit in little cubicles and type for a living was always going to be risky (although it worked out alright for Clarke Kent at the Daily Planet) but fortunately for filmmaker Andrew Rossi it was a risk worth taking. Page One is an epic drama about the future of media and what the role of the New York Times will be in the changing landscape of news.
It is safe to say that Rossi couldn’t have picked a better time to turn up at the Times - in a year of filming, Wikileaks exploded into the mainstream media by releasing a video of a US helicopter gunning down Reuters journalists in the Middle East and Twitter emerged as a household name. As some of the largest newspaper organisations in the USA collapse around them those at the New York Times are left to ponder what the future may hold for print journalism.
Rossi meets award winning media columnist David Carr who paints a disarmingly candid portrait of a paper floundering in a world of tweets and free online content, desperately trying to find its feet in an industry that has left it behind. He poses the question: is online news value for money and can we trust it? Could the New York Times role become simply to curate this great heaving mass of information that is choking the web?
Cut like a journalist might write a column, Page One is a fantastic piece of intelligent and emotive observational documentary. At times beautifully shot and slickly animated, and elsewhere so natural that you feel as if you are actually in the room, Rossi contrasts this fly on the wall style with fascinating stock footage that offers a brief glimpse into the newsrooms of a bygone age when the New York Times was king of hard news and all our romantic ideas of newspapers and reporters held true. Page One shatters this illusion but replaces it with a much more human edition of the truth.
This fascinating insight into the inner sanctum of the New York Times is set to a backdrop of redundancies and bankruptcies. Men and women are losing their livelihoods because people are no longer willing to pay for the news that they consume.
In the end Page One turns out not so much to be simply a movie about the media desk at the Times but also a movie about David Carr. With a personality as big as the Times itself David Carr - a recovered drug addict and now successful award winning columnist - is maybe a metaphor for a struggling business that needs to reinvent itself. Carr knows what it’s like to have the odds stacked against him and come out the other side on top, the only question is will the New York Times be so lucky?
Page One is released by Dogwoof in selected cinemas in the UK on 23rd September 2011. Read Ali May's interview with director Andrew Rossi here.
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