Friday, March 17, 2006

Oscar Feast IV - Good Night, And Good Luck (with digressions and quiz)

No, I’m not going to rave about George Clooney.
Rather, I am delighted to tell those of you who haven’t yet seen Good Night, and Good Luck that if you are a Humphrey Bogart fan, you should see this. I would die before Casablanca is remade, but if it absolutely must be, then let me die knowing that they’ve chosen David Strathairn as the new Rick.

But seriously… Maybe Strathairn won't be able to do full justice to Rick Blaine with regard to the latter's romantic aspect, but do see him. Roger Ebert describes him as a stealth actor.
Go to end of post for easiest visual quiz on which is HB and which is DS.

Forget sepia, director George Clooney goes out and out with the old faithful black & white. GNGL is a stylish throwback on newsroom drama, a newsman's duty, and that eternal debate between media Editorial and media Owner.

The issue is Joseph R McCarthy, the US Republican Senator who in the 1950s unleashed his own brand of Reign of Terror against state department officials he insisted were Communist infiltrators. As with any large-scale obsessive initiative, McCarthyism gained a certain amount of popularity, which waned after the Senate itself shrugged off his tactics.

Back in the CBS news show "Good Night, and Good Luck", senior star journalist Edward R Murrow (Strathairn) pounces on a loophole when an East European is expelled without reason from the Army. In a daring media crusade against McCarthy’s tactics, he has the support of his producer Fred Friendly (Clooney himself) and a host of talented reporters who do his snooping around for him. There is the inevitable pressure from the CBS powers-that-be, more so since "GNGL" is a sponsored primetime programme (later, despite the tension, Murrow has full freedom). There is the Army to deal with this time, and of course McCarthy himself, who also later agrees to answer Murrow’s questions on the show.

Kudos to Clooney for taking on such a politically delicate topic, in a country where Communism is forever a hot potato, dethroned only for the time being by Terrorism. (It is another matter that most Americans view both as not too dissimilar and equally threatening).

Coming back to GNGL, it is interesting to take note (with around 5 English news channels doing the rounds in the Indian cable circuit) of the unsmiling Murrow – never out to please, be it employer, producer, audience, or subject.

Strathairn does amazing things with a cigarette… OK, so it’s heinous to show a star anchor with smoking fingers, but he does make the stick look like an essential style accessory. And true to reporters and newsdesks worldwide, the CBS stuff is seen constantly lighting up, deadline or no-deadline.

If a Clooney fan, you might find him disturbing. I mean I kept expecting more screentime from him, but in time realised that the put-on weight and comparative insignificance was of course deliberate and he was the director this time. If you've seen Citizen Kane, you'll know Clooney's seen it too. Maybe it's to do with all the newsreel clippings, and constant cuts to tense and crowded hearings. (Ebert, too, has something on this).

If you're a Robert Downey Jr. fan, there's a naughty sub-plot involving him and Patricia Clarkson, who looks much older than him, making things a bit confusing (in fact, Clarkson is only 6 years older to Jr). But this could be old Clooney's trick, and I'm not telling you their story. As I said in my take on The Constant Gardener, if you want the little mysteries intact, don't read Ebert before seeing the film.

Overall, GNGL is a well-made film, stylishly directed, not distinctly memorable, but brush up on your McCarthy if you want to make absolute sense out of it. As I said, it belongs to Strathairn. If we had as good an anchor for a Good Night show, he would make sure you’ll go to sleep thinking of what he just said. Or maybe that’s possible only in films…

Following is the promised EASIEST VISUAL QUIZ on HOLLYWOOD.
Don't blame me if you think the one on top is Mr Bogart ;-) ;-)


At 8:11 PM, Blogger Arthur Quiller Couch said...

Your straightforward style of reviewing is deceptively simple. Good show.

At 10:27 PM, Blogger Ghetufool said...

hey, great review. this is as good as a new york times review, i swear.

At 10:38 PM, Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

I was going to ask you if anyone has ever told you that you do good reviews but I see that a couple of people have beaten me to it. Maybe it's time to send that lady critic at TOI packing, don't you think? :-)

But, Bogart? Really?

At 11:43 PM, Blogger panu said...

Erm, PPnoy derelin,

I think you should get out of the Oscar thingy...

For the benefit of those who DID NOT see the movie... and probably won't get the chance to see *sigh* George Clooney...

At 10:03 AM, Blogger eve's lungs said...

Good reviews - inspiring enough to take in the films . As for your comment on "Diddi" yes I liked it very much possibly because Gaura pant has intrigued me considerably over a long time; my fondness for the subject and the book might be subjective - but read it .

At 12:30 PM, Blogger The Individualist said...

Haven't yet seen it. Can't blurt out much, hence. Will get back. :D
But nicely written, all the same.

At 1:56 PM, Blogger Rimi said...

Ahhh, thank you, Krishna . And yes, that is my eye. Glad you like :-)

And NOW, I shall go back and actually read the post. He he.

Also, Chumki, if you're here: I'm not a member of Paradiso because it's so expensive, y'know? Less than Raja's, but still ! I mean, non-earning impoverished student-person here! Are you from Cal too, btw?

At 10:29 AM, Blogger madnira69 said...

Neat. Very very neat. i like your style. My wifey has already asked for Transamerica. So no more demnads on this front.We are still waiting to know more
abut your hedgehog and your current career on O3. Drop in when free and enlighten us.

At 1:39 PM, Blogger Malinee said...

Hi PP aka K

This was superb as ki?

I am seconding madnira's request,taratari esho

BTW--thx for dropping in to the complete chaos the other day!!!

At 2:51 PM, Blogger Patient Portnoy said...

AQC: Thank you. May I consider “deceptively simple” a great compliment?

Ghetu: blush, blush… NO

GhostOfTJ: Send the ToI lady packing?
Yes, I guess, I’d love to take her place, but also look at the column space she gets per film. Couldn’t manage anything in that...
And, Bogart… I know, not really :-)

Panu: You’ll get to see all of them, m’dear. Two of them are already in the theatres in India

Eve’sL: Thanks.
Would love to get hold of “Diddi”. And will tell you how it goes as soon as I do

The Ind: DO get back, please.
And thanks for the kind words

Rimi: Hellooooooooo :-)
Tell me, how much do you have to pay at Paradiso?

Arindam: Thank you
Couldn’t make “Transamerica” this weekend, so guess you love birds will have to wait for that :-)
C u at O3

Malinee: Thank you too.
Next bodhoy latest version of "Pride&Prejudice" (for which Keira Knightley was nominated). But janina kobey post korbo, cos London thekey Boss eshechhen, and I'll be on my toes.
But I'll try to drop in, as usual :-)

At 11:44 PM, Blogger ace of spades said...

ur reviews are enlightening to say the least. keep em coming. just outta curiosity, will you stop after uve done the entire lot? or are u keen on spamming urself with reviews of other movies??

At 9:00 AM, Blogger Ekta said...

Hey patient
Grt review!Ur a movie buff arent u!
Btw finally managed to see brokeback mountain and loved it! well u dont need to refund my money back!;-)

At 9:00 AM, Blogger Ekta said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 1:02 PM, Blogger Sue said...


At 11:28 AM, Anonymous Sanity Starved said...

Okay, this is my third visit, I think. Had been reading the previous reviews too. good night, and good luck definitely sounds the best of them so far. Haven't had a chance to watch much movies last year. Will catch up. Thanks!

At 1:01 PM, Blogger chumkisingh said...

long time, no posts! where art thou??

At 9:44 AM, Blogger Patient Portnoy said...

Ace: Thanks...
Havent planned anything, tho the question has crossed my mind.
Also, wonder how long I can pull off such stuff without revealing the plot here and there. It's tough to write such posts without telling something about the story, you know

Ekta: Phew, I was getting worried

Sue: Sorry it's taking so long. But promise to take the tag after my next post

Sanity Starved: Thanks for the fourth visit :-)

Chumki: Am back

At 8:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work
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