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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Broadcast News

Film #318

THE PLOT

Take two rival TV reporters - one handsome, one talented, both male. Add one producer, female. Mix well and watch the sparks fly.

Year 1, Day 323

BEFORE: Second up today is a James L. Brooks (last directed Terms of Endearment) film, Broadcast News. This too was nominated for many Academy Awards, a total of seven including Best Picture and three out of four acting categories. Alas, it won none. Nevertheless I feel as if I’m in for some laughter.

AFTER: One of my favorite new TV shows last year was Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom. It was a great look into what broadcast news must be like in real life and had great, relatable characters to boot. Broadcast News is the film equivalent of that show. It shows how the news is made and the lives behind the people who make it.

I’m a very methodical and by-the-books type of a person. Everything I do must have some sort of plan, some sort of direction or path before I begin. As much as I know I need to be flexible and prepared for the unexpected (as things inevitably change), I try as hard as I can to figure out every possible way a situation might play out. So when it comes to films like Broadcast News that show me every step of the behind the scenes workings of a newsroom, I’m elated. I love to see how other people work because it gives me ideas for how I can improve my own workflows. This sounds ridiculous, liking the mundane details of operations, but I find it enjoyable. More than on a personal level though, I think the reason other people like it, and why it was nominated for an Academy Award, is that it does a truthful and accurate job of representing a newsroom. It not just the idea I like, it’s the fact that if I went down to my local news station (back in the late 1980s that is) it would look exactly the same (but perhaps with a little less personal drama). The film transports you to a place you normally never see and gives you an idea just how demanding a newsperson’s life is.

The other equally important part in Broadcast News is the lives of the three main characters: producer Jane Craig (Holly Hunter), reporter Aaron Altman (Albert Brooks), and future anchor Tom Grunick (William Hurt). If the film truly was just a representation of what a newsroom is (what I just spent a full paragraph praising the film on), it probably would be quite boring, no matter how exciting I find it. But when combined with relatable characters, there seemingly mundane tasks are no longer mundane. Not only can you feel the same anger Jane feels when all she wants is a two-second dissolve for that transition (what a great scene that was), but you also feel Aaron’s fear as he sits in front of the camera doing his best to go on even when he’s losing six pounds in sweat. The only part I wasn’t completely sold on was Jane’s dilemma between choosing Aaron or Tom. She likes both of them and both of them like her back. But despite an apparent disapproval of Tom in the beginning for not reporting real news, she falls for him anyway and leaves Aaron by the wayside. Understandable in a more “typical” film (more attractive guy over the better guy), but from beginning to end Jane is set up as a character who doesn’t care about that; she cares about the news. And this disconnect in her character with resulting consequences and developments didn’t seem right.

Broadcast News is another great James L. Brooks films that everyone should go and see. Whether or not you care for the background workings of a newsroom, you’ll find the striking realism and great characters to be highly entertaining and funny. As a fan of The Newsroom I found Broadcast News to be a great film equivalent. And if you’re thinking, “I don’t like The Newsroom and that’s gotten a bad critical response,” well then, give this film a shot instead. More people seem to like it and it certainly is worthy of the Oscar nominations it received.

RATING: 4 out of 5