Thursday, July 27, 2006

Good Night and Good Luck

Title: Good Night and Good Luck (2005)
Dir: George Clooney
Rating: **** out of 5 stars

Man, I love it when a movie actually lives up to the hype! Despite a few weaknesses, Good Night and Good Luck is one great film thanks to a well-written script, great direction, a poignant issue, and a stellar cast.

The film tells the story of Edward R. Murrow, the CBS broadcaster who dared to challenge Senator Joseph McCarthy during the Communist "witch-hunts" of the 1950s. With his producer Fred Friendly (portrayed by George Clooney) and a small crew of CBS staff, Murrow exposed the Junior Senator from Wisconsin as the fear monger he really was.

Stories like this give me goosebumps. Hell, I have chills right now! I LOVE these David-vs-Goliath stories from our nation's history. And I LOVE films about them (other examples include Norma Rae and Erin Brockovich). I just really admire people who stood up when no one else would.

I also happen to love that era of our history - the Red Scare, the space race, the atomic bomb, etc. So I went into this movie with a pre-existing interest, but you really needn't know anything about the era or McCarthy to understand and enjoy the movie. Clooney (who also co-wrote) keeps the historical aspects straight-forward without insulting history buffs. He also went to great lengths to keep it accurate, including having Murrow's and Friendly's relatives on-set.

In the role of Murrow, David Strathairn is incredible. The man never cracks a smile, but you'll love him anyway. Watching it, I just want the shake Murrow's hand and tell him he's a hero. The rest of the cast is great, too, especially Ray Wise (of Twin Peaks fame) who gives a stirring portrayal of real-life news anchor, Don Hollenbeck.

My only complaint is a side-story involving Patricia Clarkson and Robert Downey, Jr. as a couple who must hide their marriage from everyone. They are not oppressed by the Communist paranoia, but rather CBS employee rules. So what's the big deal? The story is pretty irrelevant to the plot and I could've done without it. It doesn't distract or detract from the movie, but it wouldn't have been missed, either.

I higly recommend seeing this one. Anyone with an interest in 50s culture and/or politics will especially love it. Clooney has done a fantastic job making it, and I think perhaps the man has found his true calling. After seeing this, you might even forgive him for Batman & Robin.