Friday, November 6, 2009

Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005)

Starring David Strathairn, George Clooney, et al
Rated PG, 93 minutes

1954. Wisconsin senator Joseph McCarthy is at the height of his powers. He heads a Congressional committee set to root out communist sympathizers in the United States. CBS' Edward R. Murrow (Strathairn) wants to root out the truth about McCarthy and his methods on the weekly "See It Now" program - sponsors and others be damned.

This movie does many things right. It's very straightforward. The look and feel of the environment they created is exceptionally authentic. The use of actual footage naturally helped that. All this adds up to something that feels like a documentary. It is that accurate.

David Strathairn is inspired as Edward R. Murrow. You can sense, just with a twitch of the eye, what Murrow is going through at several points in the film. They didn't have to pump up the drama, because the source material was so good. You can't help but sympathize with someone losing their livelihood over the McCarthy-led witch hunt. No scoring or over-the-top shot switching was needed when you watched Edward R. Murrow become a TV pioneer right in front of your eyes. Less was more when the smoky room filled up with silence as the crew waited for the switchboards to light up.

My only real gripe with the movie was the subplot about a hidden marriage at CBS. It helped flesh out the climate of fear at the time, but the payoff was no real payoff at all, in my opinion. It ultimately didn't detract enough to warrant a deduction.


When George Clooney gets his passions behind something, look out. "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" was another film he directed, and another where the bottom line was kept low to do it the way he wanted to. He took a drastic pay cut to work on "Good Night, and Good Luck," earning literally a few dollars for all of his services. And while "Confessions" was nothing lasting in the cinema pantheon, this movie truly was. I hope more and more people in the future get rewarded for doing what they truly want to do.

It was Murrow-esque that this movie rose to where it did. "Good Night, and Good Luck" thankfully continues the message that media should not exist solely for entertainment. Media should continue to challenge and be provocative, and not simply warm hearts in the name of a dollar. This writer can only continue the message in spirit, as my career goals center around the sugary sweet ol' Ed would've hated. But...I'll raise a glass right now in his honor, and recommend you see this one. Now.

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