"Good Night, and Good Luck"
Directed by George Clooney.
Written by George Clooney and Grant Heslov.
Starring David Straithairn, George Clooney, Robert Downey Jr. and
Release Year: 2005
Review Date: 10/19/05
It's stunning to see how far George Clooney
has come along in the film business, as an actor, as a man of
influence in getting films and casts put together, and now, as a
director; after his debut film
"Confessions of a Dangerous Mind", it's amazing to see just how
marked an improvement he makes from that film to his current work,
"Good Night, and Good Luck."
Based on the work of CBS journalist Edward
Murrow during the mid-1950s, Clooney's latest (shot entirely in
black-and-white) is smarter, more interesting, more cinematic and
more ably performed than "Confessions...", his 2002 drama on the
life of "Gong Show" host Chuck Barris. We meet Murrow, played
by character actor vet David Straithairn (you might remember him
from "A League of Their Own" or "L.A. Confidential"), in the midst
of his career on his late-night weekly issues broadcast, where he
has spent the last four years quietly but indirectly going after
issues related to the anti-Commie nincompoop Joe McCarthy, referred
to here normally as "the junior senator from Wisconsin."
Morrow, with the help of his producer Fred Friendly (Clooney) and a
rabid research staff that doubles as his production team, finally
begin broadcasting stories and footage from McCarthy court hearings
directly...and the results change the lives of those on and off the
air at CBS immediately.
I was very intrigued by Clooney's decision
to not use an actor to portray McCarthy, instead using actual news
footage of his anti-pinko hearings to tell McCarthy's side of the
story. It gives the whole film a docudrama feel that would not
have been present otherwise, and it had me hooked all movie long.
That, and Straithairn's incredible performance; monotone to the
nines, he creates a figure that becomes as watchable as the
real-life Morrow seems to have been back in his hey.
Straithairn has been the third or fourth fiddle in so many films
(even checking IMDB barely made me register some of his previous
work) that it's amazing Clooney handpicked the man to be the lead in
his movie. Maybe he wasn't the first choice, but he does an
excellent job with the material at hand.
And, the Clooney Influence--a whole movie
could be made on just this, the man has such reach nowadays--shows
in the casting of the other roles; Robert Downey Jr. is just about
reduced to "guy in corner" in terms of his importance to the movie's
overall cast, but in his few scenes he is still great, thanks to his
partnership here with Patricia Clarkson, who is probably a top-three
performer in terms of female parts over the course of the new
millennium. Clarkson doesn't even seem to be doing anything,
but she's still fantastic here as the wife of a fellow staffer,
unbeknownst to other CBS staff members. You throw in Jeff
Daniels, you throw in Frank Langella, you throw in former "Twin
Peaks" star Ray Wise as fellow CBS anchor Don Hollenbeck...even the
no-names knock it out.
The soundtrack is excellent, the pacing is
just right, the film doesn't run too long. And, in that rarest
of circumstances...I learned something while watching a dramatic
Hollywood film. Even Clooney does his best to stay in the
background, lest we start to pull for more of his character; the
focus stays on Straithairn's Morrow the whole way through, just the
way it should be. I can see now why so many critics have been
raving about this thing--"Good Night, and Good Luck" is the goods,
and hopefully it will hang around come Oscar season.
Rating: Opening Weekend
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard