The Netflix Report

Movie reviews from my Netflix queue. Highly personal and opinionated!

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Monday, April 17, 2006

Good Night And Good Luck

This is a brief summarization of Edward R. Murrow’s public exposure of Senator Joseph McCarthy during the height of the 1950’s Red Scare and senate witch hunts for Communist sympathizers. Murrow and the gang in the CBS newsroom represent Good and Right and Justice. McCarthy and an unseen newspaper columnist in his camp represent Evil and Injustice. There is no subtlety or uncertainty or shading to the characterizations.

It was the look of the movie that stayed with me. The art direction is simply right in every tiny detail. The costumes are great, the lighting is perfect for the black and white historical feel, the camera work is never intrusive or obvious. Unfortunately, even at 93 minutes, the movie feels a bit draggy.

The problem is that the central conflict and tension is simply not very threatening to an observer in 2006. While the characters are concerned that their careers and reputations might be at stake, it doesn’t seem like that big a deal to audiences used to seeing movie characters in life or death situations.

And because we know the resolution of Joseph McCarthy’s quick career arc, there’s no tension about whether “good or evil” will win. So you watch events unfold and try not to flinch at director George Clooney’s more obvious emphases on parallels to the current administration and political climate. That and his adoration and deification of Murrow. And this is coming from a guy who agrees with both basic viewpoints.

It’s a nicely packaged history lesson that should be shown in high school classes. It’s also an impeccably made film. It’s just a pity I couldn’t get more involved.


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