Because it was such a slow starter in the US and because it was/will be released in most countries this year, Good Night, And Good Luck can be called “the first important film of 2006”.
Having taken a job as a substitute teacher for two weeks earlier in the year, I also had to guide the kids through the subject of “S.F. & Fantasy”. Rather than showing them the clip from the guide book (I hate Will Shitm and will not tolerate “I Robot”), I spent an entire evening on making a 35 minute long collage of SF & Fantasy themes (a list can be requested at the lobby). Included was Invaders From Mars, where the martians were meant as an allegory for communists. Director W.C. Menzies was a big fan of senator McCarthy and believed America was truly being attacked by little green men (read: big red bears).
I sidestepped to the wonderfully daft I Was A Communist For The F.B.I. (nominated for an Oscar in the documentary category!) because in this day and age kids will actually ask you what a communist is. I also made a mention of Good Night, And Good Luck, which was still playing in Belgian theatres at that time.
The director is one George Clooney, possibly the biggest actor of our times, not in the least because he uses his star status to make relevant comments (Three Kings is another example) and because you won’t find as many anti-Clooney threads on the web as there are flaming mentions of Brad, Leonardo and Tom (I mean Hanks, not that insane egomaniac).
Some critics have mentioned that Clooney doesn’t tell the real story of Edward Murrow, that certain bits were embellished and that Murrow’s role has been exaggerated. So be it. Clooney didn’t set out to make a faithful documentary: he made a hagiography of a tv presenter from the fifties, the decade of movies such as I Was A Communist For The F.B.I. or Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Good Night, And Good Luck is the Body Snatchers of our time: while telling a story, it makes a relevant point about the world we’re living in. It’s difficult not to see parallels to what is happening in the media of the noughties.
That in itself makes Clooney’s movie braver than 90% of what we’re usually forcefed.
Good Night, And Good Luck also benefits from good acting and beautiful shots in black and white. My main criticism is – something I also read in other reviews – the fact that Clooney occasionally abandons the movie for a jazzy song. I can think of three reasons: 1) Clooney likes jazz. 2) He wanted to make the parallels to our times less obvious by adding songs from the 1950s. 3) Clooney wanted to give us some time to let it all sink in before continuing to the next scene. I’m not saying the jazz numbers annoyed me, I just couldn’t see why they were necessary. Without them I would’ve declarec GNAGL an essential movie of the noughties, now I’ll just call it “the first important film of 2006”.
P.S. Good Night, and Good Luck is now out on DVD.
P.P.S. The I Was A Communist for the F.B.I. lobby card shown here can be purchased at Film Posters.