Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Good Night, and Good Luck.

Dude, where's my cigarette?

Finally someone had the balls to bring this movie in, after the Oscar hype and all. I was anticipating this movie to compare it with the rest of the Best Picture nominees, but had to refrain from watching it from *ahem* sources, or from DVD rentals. So what's my verdict? It's a little overrated.

Don't get me wrong. The production value was superb, even though it was shot entirely in black and white, and was modestly budgeted. Much has been said about David Strathairn being Edward J Murrow, and that's true, he provided a superbly charismatic performance, that if it wasn't Hoffman in contention for Capote, I'd reckon Strathairn would have clinched the Oscar.

I've always enjoyed political/historical movies which adds its own spin to dramatize real-life events, and this one is no exception. However, I would recommend that you read up a bit on the background on the tussle between CBS' Ed Murrow and Junior Senator Joseph McCarthy, so that you can appreciate this picture even more. It doesn't dwell on too much of the background, and jumps to the central story directly. So unless you're somewhat vaguely familiar, it would take a while to get up to speed.

And you'll be distracted too by the wonderful shots in this George Clooney directed picture. Smoking has never looked as sexy as this, and each drag produces smoke that just lingers on screen. Beautiful, even though I'm not an advocate of tobacco.

Its themes of freedom from fear, liberty, imaginary enemies, are adequately discussed, with ideas put forth single handedly by Murrow's many monologues from his talk show. You'll be captivated as Strathairn holds your attention each time he's up. However, what's lacking is the additional oomph in the return fire, as McCarthy gets relegated to playbacks from archive stock footage, so unless you're happy with monologues, you'll feel the downside in the presentation of this picture.

The other sub-theme I enjoyed though is the workings of internal politics within the studio, and the relationship between its backers and supporters. Prior to being given the green light to engage in a thought-provoking and direct onward fire towards a senator gaining dangerous ground, we see the hurdles and the fears that the producers and everyone involved have to cross. Really makes you wonder at times, how objective can a certain news spin be.

Big ideas, big cast, and lots of great jazz would have made this success a given, but its one-sided delivery might have hurt it from achieving its potential greatness.

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