Good Night, and Good Luck

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

George Clooney must really love 2006 so far. The actor, once criticized for his “head down, eyes up” acting style has really done a 180 in terms of his career. I remember reading an interview with him about 6 years ago in which he remarked that he’d spoken with his accountant and found out that he didn’t need to worry about money anymore. He was relieved to hear this and noted that he would no longer do films for the money, but to explore his more artistic side. And, wouldn’t you know it, since then he’s starred (and directed) some pretty good movies. Commercially successful to critically acclaimed, films like “Ocean’s Eleven” and “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” to some very independent movies like “Syriana” and “Solaris”. Suffice it to say that the time has come for Hollywood to recognize Clooney’s talent. He may have just delivered the one-two punch as he’s been nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar and been tapped for Best Director as well. The latter nomination is a bit more impressive as he’s in company with Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee and Paul Haggis to name a few.

“Good Night, and Good Luck” is the story of Edward R. Murrow, once the voice of the war and an early television personality. Murrow (David Strathairn), a trusted and respected journalist, took on Sen. Joseph McCarthy and the whole “Communist” scandal of the early 50’s. The short version is that McCarthy started a witch hunt and could ruin anyone by calling them a Communist – proof or no. Murrow, with the help of CBS and his Producer, Fred Friendly (George Clooney), publicly took on the Senator. What “Good Night, and Good Luck” tells is the story of how it was done. Six people took the risk, stood up against the system and ultimately prevailed. I don’t think that I’m giving anything away here as its U.S. History. As Clooney says in the featurette, “these people didn’t get rich doing what they did – they did it because it was the right thing to do.”

The performances in the movie are all strong; I also have to note that it’s good to see Robert Downey Jr. in movies again. He’s had a tough life and he is incredibly talented – it was a good choice to cast him. Rounding out the cast is Patricia Clarkson, Jeff Daniels and Frank Langella. I realize that this review is a bit disjointed, but moreso than the film is what it was trying to say. It’s short (93 minutes), filmed in Black and White (so we get that feeling that we’re actually watching it as it happens) and makes a bold statement. Clooney’s father was a reporter, so we get the feeling that he knows a bit more about what they were doing than we do. “Good Night, and Good Luck” is more than the way that Murrow ended his programs – it’s a symbol that we should never stop fighting for what we believe in.

Video: How does it look?

“Good Night, and Good Luck” is wisely presented in a 1.85:1 black and white transfer. I don’t watch a lot of DVD’s that are shown in black and white, but I have to say that they look amazing on the screen. Older movies look good as well, but newer movies like “The Man Who Wasn’t There” and especially “Good Night, and Good Luck” look great. The movie uses some older footage inserted into the movie, so those scenes look a bit grainy, but apart from that the print is pristine and I couldn’t find a thing wrong with it. It may be a judgment call on my part but I’m saying that this looks perfect. A top notch effort.

Audio: How does it sound?

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack might as well be mono as about 95% of the movie is purely dialogue driven (with no ambient effects). There are a few musical interludes to transition scenes, but aside from that the dialogue is what gets the attention here. It’s a strong track and there really wasn’t much need for anything else. I’m guessing that Clooney recognized this and hence, less is more in this case. Movies don’t have to blow the roof off of your house to be good and “Good Night, and Good Luck” more than gets the point across – audio wise.

Supplements: What are the extras?

I suppose that Warner is waiting to see how the film fares at Oscar time, but this is surprisingly devoid of supplements. There’s a commentary track with Clooney and his co-writer. I found the track very good and Clooney isn’t doing this for a publicity stunt – he really knows what he’s talking about and it’s evident in the commentary. There’s also a featurette with some behind the scenes footage and interviews with the cast and crew. Rounding out the features is a trailer. “Good Night, and Good Luck” was one of 2005’s best and for good reason, it’s a well-made movie that brings out the best from the actors. I would imagine a more robust edition will be out later this year, but in the meantime this one delivers.

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