I consider All the Presidents Men to be one the most well directed films ever. The scene below is a great example of that, I’ll focus mostly on the later scene where he sits at his desk making phone calls.
In film school we had a research exercise called ”the natural story” where we went out and observed people at their workplaces. The main goal was to nail down character traits specific for the job we were observing, later on we would implement these traits on our fictional characters for that project. This scene is a great example of this kind of approach. Redford totally feels like a reporter and it very subtle and not the cliché (this character times ten) that we have come to got used to.
Acting wise I’m especially fond of how Redford listens during the phone calls and his reactions to the surroundings (background noise and interfering colleague). The sequence when he switch between the incoming calls is brilliant in all its simplicity.
I also want to bring up the other elements in the scene. The cinematography simply documents the scene without trying to be glossy or picture perfect. I really like how simple it looks but when you look closer on it you can see how well thought out it is. There are several times when we don’t see what Redford is looking at which I find interesting, instead we see his reaction to it. There is also nice use of depth of field that enhances the background. On to editing and sound.
Wow! I’m not doing a clip count but I sure wish a lot of directors, editors, and cinematographers would be inspired by this kind of pacing. I find it very suspenseful in its context. I haven’t seen the film in years but was totally drawn into the scene and the seriousness of it. I think this comes mostly from the use of a static long take. The sound design is also really good, its subtle but you could still listen in to whats happening in the background if you wanted to focus on that. Finally, isn’t it nice to NOT have a score that tells you how you should feel when listening to it?
There is a lot to learn from this.
Poll Quickie: As you can see both Dog Day Afternoon and Moon are eating up the percentage towards Long Kiss Goodnight so if you haven’t gotten your votes in yet its time for that now!