EXCELLENT movie, and a rarity (perhaps even more so when released than currently) in that it is a real ensemble movie, with all cast members, even the less prominent ones, having meat to their characters and rich scenes. And, what a cast! Besides the obviously fabulous leading players (Keaton, Tomei, Duvall, Close, Quaid), we have Lynne Thigpen, Catherine O'Hara, Jasons Robards and Alexander, Spalding Gray, Jill Hennessy, Clint Howard (among other Howards, but nepotism is fine when the work is good), Amelia Campbell, and many other good character actors who give their all to even tiny roles.
As others have pointed out, this is one to enjoy re-viewing from time to time. Hadn't watched it in awhile, but thought of it, with the tragic confirmation today of Spalding Gray's death by suicidal drowning. He is perfect in his portrayal of the intelligent, smug, snobbish, then righteously indignant editor. So much nuance in a small part that would have been a one-dimensional figure of ridicule in most modern day, big-budget movies. The other sadly deceased cast member, gone much too young, is Lynne Thigpen, who was one hugely talented, versatile, accomplished and ridiculously under-appreciated actress (hell of a singer, too). As usual, she is just so real, and eminently watchable as the stressed, pressured secretary.
Other various gems gracing THE PAPER (just randomly off the top of my head) include: the sharp, true parodies of frenetic television news channels, and the resentful attitude of the print journalists who actually do the hard digging; the scene between Catherine O'Hara and Marisa Tomei--comic gold, with painful truth in it; the panicked, woozy-hallucinogenic scene with Keaton greeting and leaving his wife and parents at the restaurant; the palpable sense of heat and pressure building to the climax of the movie; the dramatic, violent, yet also screwball climax, with Glenn in the printing area; just the basic good-hearted, menschlich aspects of the characters, flawed as they are. THEN, there is of course, Randy Newman's glorious score--just perfect.
POSSIBLY SPOILERS BELOW:
Sure enough, one can pick at aspects of the plot, and the way various threads end up weaving together towards the dramatic dénouement and resolution. Sure, it's unlikely that things would work out quite so cleverly in real life, but this is a MOVIE, and when crafted and performed this well, it's worth exercising a little willing suspension of disbelief. It's also entertaining as hell. And the ending is not all Hollywood-happy-triumph:
Duvall's character takes what pleasure he can from watching from a distance the daughter who has disowned him, and knowing she must at least respect the work he and his staff have done to absolve the innocent young suspects. Perhaps they'll reconcile before the cancer kills him, but likely not--we're left with a potent mix of more doubt than hope. Keaton and Tomei have survived, and have a healthy newborn, but are still in their difficult financial situation, and have sacrificed the chance at a more comfortable and prestigious lifestyle. Her conflict of mothering vs. the work she loves and misses is unresolved (if momentarily softened in the haze of post-natal happiness). And another hot day is beginning, with a whole new round of the never-ending stress of slogging through the work of a print journalist, knowing that's a breed of dinosaur that may well soon be extinct. Hell of a movie.
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