Sunday, February 19, 2006

Films & Reviews

I've not had much time recently to study whether a film is worth seeing or not, just get a sense of the "babble" in the air that it's good. So, went to "Good Night, and Good Luck" last night. Beautifully cinematographed (is that a word?) in monochrome, all those swathes of real black backgrounds on the large screen, with the wrinkled face of "Ed Morrow" emitting immense credibility. George Clooney's new movie is about a particular element from the McCarthy witchhunts where CBS and their news presenters finally stood up against McCarthy-ism's own unAmerican activities (accusation without trial or evidence for instance.) Beautifully filmed and edited, well-acted, I think the Sunday Times review got it right when it calls it "the best looking lecture you'll ever attend." I was glad I saw the film, but its no masterpiece, certainly not a worthy award winner (except for cinematographer.) The intensity was palpable, but in itself that wasn't enough. As a story about one man's fight against injustice it hardly registered. I wanted to see a documentary on the subject, as a companion piece, so narrow-focussed was the piece. One character asks "what if we're backing the wrong side?" and that was the one point where light intruded. Clearly, Clooney sees this as an appropriate moment to challenge the political elite, but he does it as an insider story, with the media (and Hollywood) seen as the white knights. It doesn't detract from what was a powerful hour and a half, but like that other recently well-reviewed film, Broken Flowers, it lacked depth. I realise, despite good dialogue, that it was painfully underwritten - ALL black and white - a director's film, with a limited source material, and - probably - a need to have known more about the subject before the film. A good small movie, visually exemplary, but short on the very articulacy that we're currently lacking.

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