A miscellany of weekly ramblings on comics, art and film by Ted Mathot, storyboard artist and writer/artist/self-publisher of graphic novels and comics

Friday, December 30, 2005

Good Night and Good Luck

Or in my case, "Good Luck Seeing This Movie Uninterrupted and in its Entirety with a Fairly Decent Print". If any of you out there happened to be at a showing of this film on Wednesday night at a small San Francisco theatre, you would have seen the projector shut down and house lights come up not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES during the first hour of this film. After each of the first two interruptions, there was a 5-10 minute wait before the film unceremoniously started back up, with the audience having no idea how much they missed. After the projector quit for a third time I was out the door, coat in hand, getting my refund. I don't know if the film ever resumed after that.

I've never demanded a refund before at a movie theatre, but the reason I did this time was because the movie had me completely hooked. I was miffed, and determined to see it before it ends its theatrical run.

The next night in Albany I would get to see the complete film; although the print was filthy and covered with dust and dirt, Good Night and Good Luck sucked me into the world of Ed Murrow, Joe McCarthy and CBS. I'm not going to write a long thought out review because there are tons of them out there.

I do want to express my excitement over a few of the film's key attributes:

Casting - Great across the board; Strathairn being the obvious standout; while this guy is on screen he IS Murrow. Amazing. I like Clooney too. Patricia Clarkson is one of my favorites and being a fan of Homicide: Life on the Street, it's nice to see Reed Diamond on the big screen. Ray Wise (you may remember him as Leland Palmer on Twin Peaks) is very good in the few minutes of screen time given to him. I cared more about his character in those few minutes than I do for most characters who get whole features devoted to them. Other supporting roles played by Robert Downey Jr., Frank Langella, Jeff Daniels...all great.

Music - Excellent use of music, as interlude as well as commentary. The lyric 'I've got my eye on you" from the second musical interlude...perfect.

Cinematography- Beautiful. I love black and white film; the simplicity of it. Curls of grey smoke over black backgrounds, subtle rim lighting, the contrast of pure black on pure white, creamy greys.

Production Design - The film looks like it was made in the 50's. For the budget they had, the sets are fantastic; I was totally immersed in that world.

Subject Matter - I love how this is just a part of Murrow's life and career. I have been avoiding full biopics lately because for some of them, the scope is just too big, too bombastic, too many special effects, and too many stars trying to outdo each other on the screen. There is none of that here. The cast works as a team, they all support each other; the balance is perfect. And on a side note, it's great to see so much smoking in a film. I've had it with digital removal of cigatettes and cigars from movies, tv and album covers (and I'm not a smoker). Show it like it is -- these guys smoked. A LOT.

I could go on and on, but see it for yourself; this is a great film.


Thomas Huxley said...

Hmmm sounds like a great film! And even Roger Egbert gave it 5 Stars! Pity about your first time seeing it in the cinema. That must have sucked.

I'll be sure to check it out.

Ted M said...

Egbert..heh! Somebody sent me an "off camera" clip of Roger and Gene bickering at each other during a taping of "Siskel and "Ebert". Man that Roger can be surly!

Jeff Pidgeon said...

Agreed! Loved "Good Night and Good Luck". Seen "Munich" yet?

J said...

I'll be sure to check it out. Thanks for the heads up Ted.

OV! said...

cant stand Clooney, but ill check out the film. love the period, love the look.


Ted M said...

Jeff - I haven't seen Munich yet, but it's next on the list.

Ovi - Don't worry about Clooney; his performace is right on.