"...nothing but wires and tubes stuck in a box..."


Written by George Clooney and Grant Heslov and Directed by Clooney, Good Night, And Good Luck tells the story of the conflict between esteemed television newsman Edward R. Murrow - portrayed in an Oscar worthy performance by David Strathairn - and Senator Joseph McCarthy, a conflict which played out nationally, over the airwaves on CBS Television.

Good Night, And Good Luck has a lot to say about the current state of journalism ( especially television journalism) and its ability...no, its obligation, the obligation of the news media to question and when necessary, criticize the actions of the government. It's timely stuff and it's no mistake I'm sure that the viewers thoughts turn to Iraq, Katrina and that Bush Administration oldie but goodie, The Patriot Act when we watch Murrow and his team try to shine a light on McCarthy. I almost said while we watch Murrow and his team try to bring down McCarthy...but that is not what they do. It may have been their hope, but it seems to me, that they knew as journalists, that all they had to do was show the public what was going on and things would somehow right themselves. It's all so noble and beautiful it makes my teeth ache. In a good way.

OK, True confession time: next to Pete Rose, Joe McCarthy is my personal boogie man. I mean, I own the complete HUAC transcripts! Call it a fascination, or a sickness, but to watch his downfall played out on film...well, it did me a world of good. A world of good. In the film, Murrow, addressing an audience of his peers states that if we do not use the medium of television to enlighten and educate then it is "nothing but wires and tubes stuck in a box". Amen to that. I hope Anderson Cooper has seen this movie, because, let's face it, the ball is in his court right now. The moment is his and I hope to hell he takes it.

This movie isn't just about making a point though, it's an artistic triumph as well. Shot in beautiful, rich, black and white it instantly transports you to another time and place. Clooney demonstrates great restraint by limiting the soundtrack to musical interludes (sung by the amazing Dianne Reeves who appears on screen) a move that makes the music more powerful when it is heard and also aids in keeping the strong dialogue, let's say, uncluttered.

The performances are all brilliant. Strathairn becomes Murrow, quietly and completely. George Clooney embodies Fred Friendly, Murrow's producer in the purest sense. Think about it: here's a guy who is so self-assured that he can easily and confidently hand off the starring role to someone else. And in doing so - he commands the highest levels of dignity and respect. The supporting cast is all strong, particularly Ray Wise (as the tragic figure Don Hollenbeck), Patricia Clarkson and Robert Downey Jr. I'm so grateful that Robert Downey Jr. has got things back on track in his personal life, allowing us to enjoy his wonderful, subtle skills as an actor. He's one of those actors who can do more with a silence than many can do with pages and pages of dialogue. A surprise bit of casting for me was Reed Diamond as John Aaron. A favourite of mine from his Homicide: Life on the Street days it's always such a pleasure to see him working. He does himself proud, as do Tate Donovan (who, coincidentally played his brother on H:LOTS) and Frank Langella (as the CBS head honcho).

It's been a long time since a movie has made me want to cheer, out loud, in the theatre...not just at the credits when it was over, but several times through the course of the film.

George Clooney has made his masterpiece.

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