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Publicity Stills of "Good Night, And Good Luck."
(Courtesy from Archer Entertainment)


Genre: Drama
Director: George Clooney
Starring: George Clooney, Robert Downey Jr, David Strathairn, Jeff Daniels, Patricia Clarkson
RunTime: 1 hr 33 mins
Released By: Archer Entertainment APPL
Rating: PG

Release Date: 25 May 2006 (Exclusively at the Cathay Cineplex)

Synopsis :

“GOOD NIGHT. AND, GOOD LUCK.” takes place during the early days of broadcast journalism in 1950’s America. It chronicles the real-life conflict between television news pioneer Edward R. Murrow (DAVID STRATHAIRN) and Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee. With a desire to report the facts and enlighten the public, the ground-breaking Murrow, and his dedicated staff - headed by his producer Fred Friendly (GEORGE CLOONEY) and (ROBERT DOWNEY JR.) in the CBS newsroom - defy corporate and sponsorship pressures to examine the lies and scaremongering tactics perpetrated by McCarthy during his communist ‘witch-hunts’. A very public feud develops when the Senator responds by accusing the anchor of being a communist. In this climate of fear and reprisal, the CBS crew carries on regardless and their tenaciousness eventually pays off when McCarthy is brought before the Senate and made powerless as his lies and bullying tactics are finally uncovered. Yet Murrow and his team have paid a high price and the show is shifted to a lesser time slot. Their legacy, however, has remained intact and even reverberates today as the standard for high quality broadcast journalism.

Movie Review:

Some people go to the movies to be entertained, while others prefer to leave the theatre learning something valuable from the message of the film. If you belong to the latter group of movie-goers, then this black-and-white film helmed by George Clooney will definitely be your cup of tea.

The 93-minute docudrama recounts one of the most important journalistic events in the 1950s, when the threat of Communism created fear and mistrust in the United States. Senator Joseph McCarthy exploited this paranoia among the Americans, and charged individuals without giving them fair trials.

Enter patriotic CBS reporter Edward R. Murrow and his producer Fred W. Friendly, who decided to confront McCarthy and expose his callous prosecutions. However, no thanks to advertising and political pressures, their journey to tell the truth was a difficult one. Standing by their convictions and journalistic beliefs, the team behind Murrow’s show “See It Now” still managed to rid America of McCarthy’s reckless behaviour, but at some personal costs nonetheless.

As one can see from the plot, it would definitely help if you have some understanding of America’s cultural and political history. Viewers with some journalistic background will also stay focused and attentive throughout the film. This is also to say that Clooney’s second directorial work has the potential to lose its audience very quickly, especially here in Singapore.

However, we would recommend that local movie-goers take some effort to appreciate this film, if not for its political and cultural relevance in the world we live in, then at least for the movie’s high production values.

Because the story is set almost entirely in the pressurized CBS newsrooms, most of the very tightly-framed scenes feel claustrophobic. It effectively creates the tension and the air of urgency in a fast-paced newsroom. Also, the endless twirls of cigarette smoke add to the anxious atmosphere of the situation.

Kudos to cinematographer Robert Elswit, who has successfully created the look of the 1950s. Thanks to his assured and stylish framing of the picture, the era has never looked better on the big screen. Some may feel that the shots come off as showy, but it only goes to prove that his precision and planning of the scenes are nothing less from perfect.

Those who love jazz music will also adore the movie for Dianne Reeves’ sexy and soulful renditions of jazz songs during that era.

Given the film’s serious plot, it will take a very good ensemble of actors to pull it off. Like its production value, the entire cast gave a flawless performance.

Playing Murrow is David Strathairn, whom we think was robbed of the Best Actor trophy at the Academy Awards earlier this year. He plays the heroic broadcast journalist with so much conviction and authority; you can feel the deafening silence when he delivers his speeches.

Other than taking on the role of the director, Clooney plays the character of Murrow’s producer, Friendly. His weighty and confident performance of the supportive producer is also a joy to watch. Interestingly, both Strathairn and Clooney’s voices are nice and resonating to listen to in a theatre equipped with a good sound system.

The wonderful cast is rounded up by supporting characters played by trusted actors like the charismatic Robert Downey Jr., the elegant Patricia Clarkson and the affecting Frank Langella.

Looking beyond the movie’s production values and cast performance, it is also important to realize what the film, as a form of mass media, means to us in the society we live in today. Look out for Strathairn’s final speech on the functions of the media, whether it is meant to entertain or inform, and the potentials it has on the people. It is one long speech that will make you ponder what kind of information society we live in.

After Strathairn delivers Murrow’s famous sign-off line “Good Night, and Good Luck”, and the screen goes to black, it will have you leave you in your seat, satisfied and affected by what the movie has given you as a media consumer.

Movie Rating:

(A highly recommended intense film for the thinking audience which will have viewers pondering about integrity, ethics and truth-telling in the mass media)

Review by John Li

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