Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Oscar Watch: Good Night and Good Luck

The other day, saw a double feature: "Good Night and Good Luck" and "Capote." For $6.25! Plus, got the real movie theatre popcorn, which is as close to crack as I will ever come. I'll write about Capote at length later on. (Hint: I haven't seen "Brokeback" yet, but I'm skeptical that it's a better movie.)

Anyway, GN&GL should be right in my wheelhouse: Courageous Journos Fight Against Dissent Suppressing Proto-Fascist. From Wisconsin. However, I think it's a little overrated. First of all, it's a little too on-the-nose. While Syrianna was detached, and not pushing an agenda, at least overtly, GN&GL might as well have flashed in neon lights "Compare this to What is Going on Now!!!!!!!" And while I'm sympathetic to that point of view, a... softer touch would have been better.

Much as I felt battered over the head by the sanctimony of "Schindler's List" lo those many years ago, GN&GL was almost preachy. Though they avoided the obvious pitfall of having actors ham their way through twirly-mustached (or, more accurately, twirly comb-overed) portrayals of McCarthy, Cohn and columnist Jack O'Brien by using archival footage or reading from O'Brien's own columns, Clooney et al could not resist throwing in the requisite 'nameless military baddies' and the smarmy 'dude in suit with truthy allegations in a plain manilla envelope' just to contrast the ivory-tower goodiness of CBS's Knights of the First Amendment.

The plot is somewhat lightweight (of course it helps to know that McCarthy did, in fact, go down and that Murrow is the patron saint of journalism). There seem to be extraneous characters whose only purpose is to provide plot points that the writers couldn't figure out how to get in another way: the 'secret marriage' arc seems included solely to give us the "honey, what if we're wrong?" "Oh of course we're not wrong" interlude.

All that said, Strathairn is fantastic, and the poetry of his monologues justify the whole exercise to an extent.

Pooh's View: Topical, but meh. This is a better movie than Hustle & Flow or Batman Begins? I think not.

No comments: