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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 28.57%
Average: 3.81%
Pretty Bad: 1.9%
Total Crap: 8.57%

10 reviews, 45 user ratings

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Good Night, and Good Luck.
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by brianorndorf

"A challenging picture, masterfully made"
4 stars

George Clooney steps far away from his overzealous directorial debut, “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” with the dense and informative “Good Night, and Good Luck.” Bathed in cozy B&W period style and blessed with top-notch acting all around, “Good Night” isn’t quite the tiresome history lesson it seems, with Clooney’s tight directorial control finding potent tension and drama in unexpected places

In 1953, CBS news personality Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) was feeling the pressure amongst his colleagues (including Robert Downey Jr., Patricia Clarkson, and Ray Wise) to submit to Senator Joseph McCarthy's obsession with cleansing America of all potential subversives. Using the forum of Murrow's popular program, "See It Now," the broadcast journalist and his producer, Fred Friendly (George Clooney), elected to investigate McCarthy's tactics and found themselves in hot water almost instantaneously with their boss (Frank Langella), sponsors, and the government. Shaken, but undaunted, Morrow continued to unravel McCarthy's procedures through his televised editorials and McCarthy's rebuttals, kicking off the senator's eventual fall from grace.

George Clooney's second directorial effort, "Good Night, and Good Luck" is a period piece about the once mighty power the television held to change the world, or, at the very least, certain parts of it. Using the epic battle between Edward R. Murrow and Wisconsin senator Joseph McCarthy as a focal point for a larger idea, "Good Night" is a riveting look at a volatile time in America and her television journalism industry.

A world famous actor, it seems whenever George Clooney steps behind the camera, he's determined to challenge himself in ways others aren't brave enough to. His directorial debut, "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," was a purposefully eccentric and show-offy comic drama that didn't know when to quit. In the initial moments of "Good Night," it looks as though Clooney has emptied all of those obnoxious first-time camera obsessions out of his system. "Good Night" is a classically made picture, and Clooney pays careful attention to the nuances of the era, at the same time, embracing small moments of nostalgia with glimpses of period commercials, such as one that sings the praises of cigarettes. He also gets the marvelous jazz performer Dianne Reeves to sing the hits of the year, which Clooney uses as interstitials to break up the tension and capture the smoky, boozy, black & white mood.

The idea behind "Good Night" is to isolate the war of minds between Murrow and the paranoid government as a way of spelling out the fact that television news wasn't always about entertainment and gloss. In the film's 1959 opener, Murrow stands at a podium in front of his peers, there to give an acceptance speech for an award; instead, the legendary newsman uses the time to warn of the coming change in the television news climate, blasting the powers that be for only using the medium to entertain, not inform. It's a commanding scene not only due to David Strathairn's powerhouse acting (the first moment of a brilliant performance), but the juicy undercurrent of relativity to today's "newstainment" that Clooney and co-screenwriter Grant Heslov pack into their first shot fired.

Since "Good Night" is essentially watching a victory lap for liberal ideals, Clooney smartly plays his cards and uses actual McCarthy footage to let the long dead senator speak for himself. If Clooney had gone the opposite way, and hired an actor to capture the unique blustery personality of McCarthy, "Good Night" would've flamed out immediately. With the beliefs of fact checking and fair quotation featured as pillars in Murrow's work ethic, the use of the footage helps maintain the accuracy of the portrayal, which many actors wouldn't be so willing to embrace.

Through luminous performances and textured cinematography, Clooney keeps "Good Night" from becoming an artificial civics lesson. While the victory is slanted toward Murrow and his crew, the remnants of doubt remain, and the questions of Murrow's carefully selected rebuttals and accountability are raised in the incredibly abrupt climax, keeping this far from the left-wing festival some are expecting (or hoping) to see.

"Good Night, and Good Luck" introduces Clooney for the first time as an exceptional filmmaker, interested in challenging material and outstanding performances, and his film is a wonderful look at an era spiraling out of control, and the power of one person to challenge the minds of a nation.

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originally posted: 10/07/05 15:08:38
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User Comments

9/13/09 Jeff Wilder Great historical docudrama 5 stars
1/16/09 Shaun Wallner Awesome Story! 5 stars
7/30/08 mr.mike It was very well done.4.5 stars. 4 stars
5/19/08 davikariout great presentation 5 stars
3/22/08 Pamela White great chronicle of a man's life 4 stars
10/15/07 fools♫gold well-done and thoughtful 5 stars
6/06/07 gr117 Excellent! 5 stars
4/08/07 Rosie i thought it needed more context. events happened too fast MORE CONTEXT!!!! 2 stars
11/14/06 AJ Muller Means now what it meant then; don't let fear force lies into being the accepted truth. 5 stars
8/17/06 Mary Beth hard to follow; guess I didn't get it 3 stars
8/13/06 R.W.Welch No Hollywood hokum here. Straight stuff docudrama. 4 stars
6/16/06 Billy father, father 2 stars
5/10/06 Craig Call Very well done! 4 stars
5/09/06 Captain Craig Now you know what happened to TV and why! 4 stars
4/24/06 millersxing Powerfully exhibits an attention to detail and a trained focus of the historian's gaze. 5 stars
4/07/06 Quigley one of the most patriotic movies I've seen in a while. strathairn was amazing 5 stars
4/05/06 Annie G I felt like I was watching part 2 of a documentary-when did they introduce the characters? 3 stars
4/04/06 Josh Standlee Sorry, people. It had a great cast, but it ended too quickly. 1 stars
4/02/06 Phil M. Aficionado Precise but not as rich in context as I had hoped; didn't show Murrow as a human w/ family 4 stars
3/30/06 sbpat21 a marvelous film 5 stars
3/18/06 MP Bartley Too insular, but a gripping and intelligent character study. Superb acting helps. 4 stars
3/13/06 Roderick Cromar This is great! A movie for adults! With brains! 5 stars
3/08/06 Piz Straight-forward if not boring account of McCarthy vs Cronkite. Well done but very overated 3 stars
2/27/06 Monday Morning Extremely antiseptic -- smart but NO emotion, just speeches. 4 stars
2/22/06 malcolm brilliant. way more exciting than 'aliens versus predator.' 4 stars
2/14/06 John Senational piece of work - riveting, exiting and alas relevant 5 stars
2/14/06 Jin Horribly one-sided and impotent. McCarthy's work was taken way out of context. 1 stars
2/12/06 KCobain Boring, dull, and wishes it was All The Presidents Men with its abrubt ending to nothing. 1 stars
2/12/06 helen bradley Interesting, relevant, David Strathairn’s portrayal of Murrow brilliant 4 stars
1/03/06 john bale Tour de force by David Strathairn in a finely crafted and credible film. 5 stars
12/30/05 Agent Sands Perfectly handled and realized by one of the greatest & most underrated talents in a decade 5 stars
12/24/05 Green Gremlin :We have nothing to fear but fear itself" - FDR 5 stars
12/18/05 ownerofdajoint The early days of corporate media control over the bewildered herd are well depicted here 5 stars
11/18/05 M.F. superb 5 stars
11/18/05 Robert Braunfeld Caprures a time that seems to be lost but not forgotten 5 stars
11/16/05 Richard Maratea The dramatic scences should not have been filmed in B&W. Major flaw. 4 stars
11/15/05 Taylor Fladgate Oscar Oscar Oscar - take that, Bushie! 5 stars
11/13/05 Titus This was gorgeous, pertinent, and brilliantly executed. Best picture of the year, for sure 5 stars
11/11/05 Ionicera flawed but ambitious and relevent 4 stars
11/05/05 jcjs schizoid J. McCarthy's Hitlerian contamination of freedom exposed by E.R. Murrow, truth 5 stars
11/04/05 baseball-nut Not bad but Clooney can still do better! 3 stars
10/25/05 Suzz perfection in directing, acting, writing and scoring 5 stars
10/23/05 Agent Sands Smart and exquisite filmmaking from one of the greatest actor-turned-directors EVER. 5 stars
10/19/05 the untrained eye proving that "Confessions..." was no fluke 5 stars
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  07-Oct-2005 (PG)
  DVD: 14-Mar-2006



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