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10/19/2005

FILM FLAM
Caught a preview screening of George Clooney's biopic of Edward Murrow this week, Good Night, and Good Luck. It's shot in black and white, which works perfectly with the stock footage and clips of TV from the time period and brings a nice starkness to the visuals. It's also stark in setting, shot almost entirely in the offices and studios of CBS (or at least sets done up to look as such) and the camera is always a bit too close to the subjects, perhaps in an effort to create a mood of cold war McCarthyism confinement. The pacing is a bit slow as well, giving scenes a bit of weight but unfortunately it works against the feeling that those were desperate times for some.
It almost works, but not quite. We get a little impression of just how scared McCarthy had people in the entertainment and political arenas. Worse, we don't get anything about the film's human subject, Murrow. He is portrayed as the first reporter to make a stand, but we aren't shown why he decides to do so. We don't see how it impacts his life, other than long hours at the office, or even any hint as to who the man is outside of work. I've gotten better pictures of the time period from TV documentaries, and better dramas from soap operas. It fails in both respects.
This film has gotten a lot of critical buzz, but I think it's in large part due to the importance of the story rather than the skill of execution, and because it's about journalists. You'd think journalists would want stories about journalists to be more interesting, but when journalists see journalists being portrayed as honest, hard-working people on the side of right it's hard to believe journalists are going to give an objective review.
I enjoyed seeing a rich black and white picture on the big screen. And the story has so much relevance today you could easily substitute "terrorist" for "communist" and make it a modern tale.

Rather than an important tale told not-so-well, Capote is a not-so-important tale told well. Where Good Night and Good Luck fails to illuminate the main character, Capote gives you a wide range of emotions portrayed by Philip Seymour Hoffman. You donít get much on his background, but you do understand his motives in the time portrayed in the film. It, too, suffers from a slow pace but this is one of those films that isnít about events as much as it is a character study. Masterfully done, really, but you have to appreciate acting and have the patience for a lack of action to enjoy it.

On the other point of the three-cornered spectrum of movies this week is Doom, an utterly unimportant story told incredibly poorly. I almost understand the idea of making movies from video games. Heck, theyíve trolled the depths of TV, remade every film in the history of film, then made sequels to the remakes - why not throw in the towel and just rip a "script" off a 10 year old video game? The Rock canít act and you donít really care about any of the characters. The effects arenít even that great and why bother to go over the top with violence and cursing and get an R rating without showing some boobs? Címon, this film is targeted at males who played video games a decade ago, we want some titties! Feh. Itís basically a crappy version of Aliens. The folks at aintitcoolnews.com have a perfect review of this steaming pile, if you ainít heard enough:
www.aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=21598


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