Good Night and Good Luck - A Good Night at the Movies

Duration: 93min
Category: drama
Available: On DVD
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Good Night and Good Luck reminded me of two other works.

The first, and most recent, is Michael Mann's flashier The Insider because both films deal with reporters at CBS News struggling to expose conservative powers much stronger than them and both highlight the difficulties a free press has in capitalist economies.

The second, and much older, is Arthur Miller's The Crucible. This play uses the story of the Salem Witch Trials as an indictment of the McCarthy hearings that are the subject of Good Night and Good Luck which in itself is as much about today's war on terror as it is about McCarthy's war on communists.

However to reduce this film to a comparison of either piece is reductive. Good Night and Good Luck is a very strong film in its own right. The matter of fact pacing, smoky atmosphere and traditional sensibility in the Black and White art direction show the Clooney knows how to make a good film. His performers do a wonderfully understated job of recreating the energy of the CBS Newsroom in the modernist era.

He has also crafted a decent story out of this history lesson. Too bad it feels very much like a history lesson. Clooney doesn't stir up a great deal of suspense despite the ominous and ubiquitous presence of McCarthy (played by the senator himself in the abundant use of newsreel footage the film employs) instead leaving the film to move quite quietly from one plot point to the other without much fear we will get to the end safely. This isn't helped by a framing sequence which lets us all know at the beginning that our hero is honoured in the end and not vilified.

Still, the film is effective in its critique of contemporary censorship and persecution. The characters often use the word "terror" instead of "communist" drawing a connection to our present day and showing how easily something as small as a word can turn someone from a dissenter into an "evil-doer."

While not edge of your seat entertaining, Good Night and Good Luck is a strong morality lesson with excellent performances and clever writing.

Review By: Collin Smith

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