Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.

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Good Night, and Good Luck

Film #155

THE PLOT

Broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow looks to bring down Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Year 1, Day 155

BEFORE: Continuing with this short George Clooney chain is what I thought was his directorial debut but is actually his second directing effort, Good Night, and Good Luck. The film stars Clooney in addition to David Strathairn (last seen in Lincoln), Robert Downey Jr. (who is new to the marathon), and Jeff Daniels (last seen in The Answer Man) among many others. I saw The Ides of March (also directed by Clooney) in theaters last year and enjoyed it very much so I’m interested in seeing more of Clooney’s direction.

AFTER: Good Night, and Good Luck is a great historical drama that investigates an issue brought up in a film not-to-be-named, in a much more effective and entertaining way.

Not only does this film focus on the HUAC hearings held by Senator McCarthy but the main focus is really on the perspective of the news reporters and what goes on behind the scenes. The advantage of this is it provides a hook for the audience to grab on to. Instead of just being CSPAN footage or some other form of dull and monotonous information dump, Good Night, and Good Luck has characters with a mission that can get the large amounts of information across in an entertaining way.

While I very much enjoyed the content of the film and the story was well told and engaging throughout, I have a slight issue with the visual look of the film. I will preface what I am about to say by noting I have not seen that many black and white films. My opinions are based on what I have seen knowing full well that there are probably many examples contrary to what I’m saying. Good Night, and Good Luck is shot in black and white which is fitting for the subject matter considering the film is a period piece of the 1950s. What I don’t like is the cinematography which feels like that of a modern color film; heavy use of depth of field and shakier, less stable, shots. That style isn’t inherently bad; in fact I am a big fan of it having been accustomed to it my whole life. But for a black and white film, it feels unnatural to have a rack focus from Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) to the broadcast on the TV behind him. It took me out of the story many times by seeing the camera move around in a way I wasn’t expecting.

Overall though, there isn’t much to complain about. Clooney presents this story in an accurate and enlightening way. Even if you know what happens, it’s interesting to see how it happens and the motives behind it. While I didn’t like the visual style of the film, that can probably be filed under personal taste rather than a mark against the film. My favorite film critic Roger Ebert had nothing but good things to say about the cinematography so I’ll leave that up to you dear reader to decide whether or not you like it. But for the story and the acting alone, especially David Strathairn, are enough reason to watch Good Night, and Good Luck.

RATING: 4 out of 5