Top 5 journalism films

25 February, 2020
Episode notes

Guest

Karin Robinson

Host of the Primarily: 2020 podcast. Former Democrats Abroad UK Vice Chair. Edelman UK Planning Director. Mum. Cat lady.


Mark gets to the truth, with political podcaster Karin Robinson, as they share their lists of films about the people who keep the presses running.

Karin hosts the Primarily 2020 podcast, which tracks the ongoing story of the Democratic primaries (the thing where they elect the party’s Presidential candidate). She feels that films about journalism tell the best stories about people engaging with public life.

Honourable mentions

Karin’s picks

In order of discussion:

Spotlight

Spotlight This double Oscar winner from 2015 is top of Karin’s list partially as it tells a story not far from her original hometown of Boston, but for the performances and of course for the difficult subject matter.

His Girl Friday

His Girl Friday This romantic comedy from 1940 is Karin’s second pick, featuring a fast-talking masterclass from Rosalind Russell, and the peerless Cary Grant. If you only see one film about two people using journalism as a sex substitute, make it this one.

Good Night, and Good Luck

Good Night, and Good Luck Karin’s third pick was Oscar-nominated six times, and was directed and co-written by George Clooney. It follows the story of legendary broadcaster Edward R Murrow (played by David Strathairn) and is, for Karin, about standing up in the face of bullshit.

All the President’s Men

All the President’s Men Only a year later than Mark’s first pick, this 70s classic won four Oscars. It’s quiet and considered, and on paper — at least for Karin — should not work, but it earns every breakthrough.

The Post

The Post This is the most-recent of the films in both lists is Karin’s fifth pick, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. It tells the story of a wealthy heiress who takes over the family business (which happens to be a massive newspaper) whilst the paper works on its biggest scoop ever.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

Network

Network Mark’s top pick from 1976 won four Oscars including Best Screenplay. He describes it as a collection of bombastic speeches, and its “mad as hell” line is oft-quoted, especially among media studies students.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Those playing the Dagon Tattoo drinking game can take a drag now, as this 2011 Fincher remake of the Swedish original (based on Stieg Larsson’s book) is second on Mark’s list, not necessarily because it’s the second-best journalism film ever, but it’s a great story with journalism at its heart.

Frost/Nixon

Frost/Nixon This simmering drama starring Frank Langella and Michael Sheen retells the story of the now infamous meeting-of-minds between disgraced president Nixon and former light-entertainer turned journalist David Frost.

Almost Famous

Almost Famous Written and directed by Cameron Crowe, Mark’s fourth pick is considered by many as something of a coming-of-age classic. It’s a film about sex, drugs and rock-n-roll, all told from the point-of-view of a young — very young — music journalist.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas This 1998 psychedelic film was written and directed by Terry Gilliam, based on the book by Hunter S Thompson, who is credited with inventing the genre of “gonzo journalism”, which puts the writer in the frame of the story, instead of as a passive observer.

More of Karin Robinson

You can follow Karin on Twitter, and make sure to check out her podcast, Primarily 2020, available wherever you get podcasts.

Links