Thursday, December 15, 2005

Review -- Good Night, and Good Luck

Sadly, Brokeback Mountain was sold out. But what's a movie whore (really, an awards-show whore) gonna do? See Good Night, And Good Luck.

In all fairness, I should preface this review. I do not like George Clooney. I've never gotten the appeal. He's emotionally flat in every role and just not attractive. Sure, he was adorable in The Facts of Life way back in the 80s, and I remember giggling a bit when he guest-starred on Friends, but really, that's where my admiration of him ends. This, of course, has nothing to do with whether or not Good Night, And Good Luck is a worthy movie (though he did co-write, direct, and co-star in the film) but I need to be upfront about my biases.

For those not in the know, Good Night, And Good Luck is the story of the fear surrounding the alleged threat of Communism in the 1950s in the United States, headlined by Senator Joseph McCarthy. The film depicts the journalistic challenge, led by reporter Edward R. Murrow and producer Fred Friendly, of CBS, to McCarthy's fear tactics.

And I must confess. In spite of my dislike of one G.C., I found myself very drawn to the film. It was a bit slow paced at times and very dialogue-driven, but in a world filled with high-action and over-the-top drama, in some ways this was refreshing. While David Strathairn as Edward R. Murrow delivered a fine, subtle performance, truly, it was overall an ensemble piece; none of the other performers stole the show (though Patricia Clarkson, of course, was amazing as always). What stands out the most is the cinematography. Filmed in black & white to create a more authentic feeling of a 1950s documentary, Clooney gets right in the actors' faces, up close and personal; you can see every pore. This creates a raw and honest look for a raw and honest story. The seeming roughness of the film further sets a tone of reality, as if the viewer is seated in the CBS studio, not as a television observer, but as a participant in the process.

No doubt, the story emerges into the film scene at a pivotal moment in our own history; the relevance of McCarthyism to today's potential threats to our Constitutional Rights is obvious, but not over-dramatized to the point that it becomes trivial. The viewer is able to ponder on his/her own whether something like this could be our present and our future. I only wish it could have been longer, perhaps to explore the anxiety of certain characters who were dealing with presenting such contraversial material in a world where contrversy = Communism.

Don't tell George, but out of five stars, I give it 3 1/2 stars!


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