19 ago. 2010

My Review: Good Night, and Good Luck (8/10)

“There is a great and perhaps decisive battle to be fought against ignorance, intolerance and indifference. This weapon of television could be useful. The instrument can teach, it can illuminate. Yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise, it is merely lights and wires in a box”

Good Night, and Good Luck is a very intelligent film and it has some great performances as well as it focuses on real events from the 50`s dealing with TV journalist Edward Murrow and his confrontation with Senator McCarthy. It is a political film and one of the best movies about television journalism as well. Murrow was one of the pioneers in journalism when TV was in diapers and he set the standard for serious and intelligent news reports. This film was nominated for Best Picture in 2006, and received five other nominations although it went home empty handed. George Clooney directed this film and co-wrote it along with Grant Heslov (who later directed Clooney in The Men Who Stare at Goats) and received two nominations for it as well. His portrayal of the CBS studio feels so real and it is enhanced by filming it entirely in black and white. The atmosphere and set really contributed to the success of the film as did David Strathairn`s performance as Murrow. Clooney manages to enlighten us as to the importance of Murrow`s stand against McCarthy and warning us that sometimes patriotism disguised can be used for evil. It is not wrong to question certain acts just because we fear to be labeled unpatriotic, we must learn to question things and television can be an important instrument when serious and fair journalism takes place. The problem is that most of the time it doesn`t and TV just becomes an entertainment device. The same can be said for Hollywood and its movies, but Good Night and Good Luck is one of those rare films that enlightens us and isn`t just another popcorn flick.

We all remember studying from History class about the communist scare in the 50`s and hearing about Senator McCarthy`s communist witch hunting tactic. Clooney directs this historical event focusing on Edward Murrow´s (David Strathairn) confrontation with Senator McCarthy (himself since newsreel footage was shown every time he appeared) during his TV show on CBS. Murrow decided to expose the Senator for using the public’s fear of communism and exploiting it to accuse people of being communists without having credible evidence. CBS boss, William Paley (Frank Langella), gave Murrow and his producer, Fred Friendly (George Clooney), liberty to attack the controversial Senator despite losing some important advertisers for it. The struggle came at a great cost for CBS and its crew. The film focuses entirely on this issue as we see glimpses of the early years of television and know now how several news shows have modeled themselves after this one. The only side story the movie has is that of the relationship between CBS reporters Joe Wershba (Robert Downey Jr.) and Shirley (Patricia Clarkson) who had to keep their marriage secret because CBS policy prohibited spouses to work together.

The film works very well and it sometimes has a documentary feeling to it because of the way the movie was shot in black and white. Robert Elswit does a great job with the cinematography. David Strathairn really captures Edward Murrow`s mannerism and impersonates him very well, and he is one of the reasons this film works so well. George Clooney has directed a great movie focusing on an important era for television and has written a decent script along with his close friend Grant Heslov. Overall the film works really well and manages to entertain while enlightening us at the same time. Good Night, and Good Luck is a rather short film, barely over 90 minutes long, and its title comes from Murrow´s classic farewell signature after ending each show. Dianne Reeves is shown several times throughout the film singing jazz music while we see in the background several journalists smoking and drinking margaritas, and I guessed it served to evoke the era. Clooney really did a great job of making the film look real and overall it has a nostalgic effect on the viewer over that time period where television was just being discovered.

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