06 March 2011


***Disclaimer and open letter to Blogger.com: I wrote this review yesterday, complete with photos and quotes and the whole nine yards. Then, Blogger, in its infinite wisdom, didn't save any of it. Thanks. You'll just have to take my word for it that the original post was hilarious and insightful. I'm not sure what can be said about this one.***

2005 was another year in which the majority of the public and, it seems, journalists; thought the Academy got it wrong. That year, "Crash" beat out critical favorite "Brokeback Mountain"; as well as "Munich", "Capote", and our film last night: "Good Night, and Good Luck". I'm not saying "Good Night" should have won, that place in my heart belongs to "Brokeback Mountain", but it is another example of when good films don't win. The sting hurts all the more that a movie that is basically an open casting for L.A. and two-steps from Lifetime won instead. Oh well.

"Good Night" was also nominated for Best Director- George Clooney, Best Actor- David Strathairn, Best Orginal Screenplay- Clooney and Grant Heslov, Best Art Direction, and Best Cinematographer. The cast, from the leads down to the day players, is heavy calibre talent: Robert Downey Jr., Patricia Clarkson, Frank Langella, Jeff Daniels, Matt Ross, and more.

What I liked best about this movie was the use of archival footage from the McCarthy trials and from interviews with the senator. For those unfamiliar, Sen. Joseph McCarthy lead what many considered a witch hunt through the ranks of America looking for communists and communist sympathizers. What made this probe even more intersting was its wide ranging scope. Not only citizens in government employ were targeted, but actors, writers, directors, and civilians. The U.S. was a scary place to live at the time. Clooney's decision to use real footage helps remind those of us too young to remember that what we are seeing is real.

The choice to shot in black and white also helps keep with the period in which the film takes place. Oscar winning DP Robert Elswit ("There Will Be Blood") camera work reminded me of a Cohen brothers movie ("The Man Who Wasn't There")- long static shots on unmoving faces, hand held through the news room, and often focusing on a background player while the actor speaking is out of focus. It sounds odd, but it really helped keep the audience fixated on what was important; namely the words and not the actions.

If you have not seen this movie, I highly recommend it. At about 90 minutes, it's a clear and concise view of the only TV channel that stood up to McCarthy (CBS) and the men who helped bring him down.

**** (4.5 stars)

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