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Damn, I’d like a cigarette

November 24, 2005

Last night we went to see George Clooney’s Good Night, And Good Luck.  I liked the movie, but this won’t be one of those well-crafted movie reviews with a beginning, a middle, and an end.  Instead, here’s a bunch of unrelated bullet points:

  • David Strathairn did an incredible job channeling E.R. Murrow.  I have heard Murrow tapes before and he was spot-on.

  • Yes, the movie was something of a political sermon, but it was pretty good in spite of that.  Outstanding acting, great story, etc.
  • They didn’t use an actor for McCarthy, just file footage.  That was a good move, but some test screeners apparently said “the actor playing McCarthy was over-acting.” 
  • Ann Coulter has been on a rampage to reconstruct McCarthy’s legacy; he was a hero was going after real Commie spies, and was destroyed by… (wait for it…) Liberals!.
  • The screenplay used Murrow’s actual words.  This was a good move.  I cannot imagine George Clooney or Grant Heslov having anything more eloquent to say than Murrow.
  • Ray Wise’s performance as Don Hollenbeck was just amazing.  His portrayal of a man smiling through pain was so good I’m worried about him now. 
  • The film did a reasonable job of noting that McCarthy was already in trouble when Murrow went after him.  At the end where Murrow’s show was cut way back, that part was not accurate.
  • Yes, everyone smoked back then.  If you have never smoked, you should know why people do it: nicotine is one of the very best neurostimulants (in the sense of improving function without side effects), it had all the support of any socially-approved drug-use, and in moments of quiet reflection, rising smoke is fascinating and beautiful.  And if done with style, it looks cool.
  • Dianne Reeves provided a jazz background for the movie that often charmingly moved into the foreground.  She has a new album out which MrsDoF intends to purchase.
  • I sure wish we had an Edward R. Murrow in television now.  Unfortunately the medium has pretty much become what he said it would; just entertainment, not living up to its potential.
  • Note to Hollywood producers in the 21st century: if you make a Black and White movie that is supposed to take place in the 1940’s or ‘50’s, watch some old B&W movies first.  Their focus wasn’t just sharp; typically it was exact.  The camera men and lighting directors didn’t go for fuzzy.  (I know it wasn’t the theater projector because there were a couple random moments of accidental sharp focus on a subject)


Categories: Movies, Reviews
  1. November 25, 2005 at 09:53 | #1

    As an ex-smoker I will find myself trying to inhale when I see that movie!

  2. WeeDram
    November 25, 2005 at 14:50 | #2

    This is totally OT (as I haven’t seen the movie, but now I really want to), but I was watching A River Runs Through It yesterday, on AMC.  As anyone who has seen this movie knows, it is beautifully filmed.  Probably most would be stuck on the beauty of the setting, but I noticed some things about the cinematography. 

    Specifically, the night scenes were filmed in “available darkness” with high speed film.  The graininess and more limited dynamic range added authenticity to those scenes.  It was much better than using daylight and production lighting and “lowering” the light level with filters.

    I love old, authentic b&w films.  Those guys understood lighting and selective focus.

  3. November 28, 2005 at 10:35 | #3

    “I hadn’t smoked in ten or twelve years, but I wished then I’d had a cigarette that I could have taken a final drag on and flipped still burning into the river as I turned and walked away. Not smoking gains in the area of lung cancer, but it loses badly in the realm of dramatic gestures.”
    —Robert Parker, _The Judas Goat_ (1978)

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