Friday, October 14, 2005

For Your Still-Technically-Friday Inanity: Inane Mini-Reviews of Good Night and Good Luck, and The New Wallace and Gromit Movie. Yup. You Enjoy That.

Sorry I'm late with the post. I was a movie-seein' fool today and have a couple of very brief, spoiler-free mini-reviews for you. Firstly, Peggy and I saw George Clooney's new directorial effort, Good Night, and Good Luck. The movie's about Edward R. Murrow and CBS's efforts to expose the witch hunt being led by Joseph McCarthy and his House Un-American Activities Committee back in the fifties. It's shot beautifully in black and white and, well, David Strathairn as Ed Murrow is fantastic, really fun to watch, but then again, I can't remember a single time when he hasn't been great on-screen. But in the end, I think this movie suffers from a director who's still learning, (not all actors-turned-directors get it right on the first, or even second, try), and a script that has no real ambition in it. This film was originally intended as a made-for-TV-movie for CBS, the kind of big-name TV movie that Clooney's remake of Fail Safe was a few years ago (which was pretty damn good, I thought). This story felt small, too small, like even after its big-screen rewrite it would still rather be on television. I was thinking from the trailer (there I go again, trying to get a sense of the movie from the trailer), that the plot would likely include a lot of clever,devious, backroom maneuverings necessary to get around network and corporate censors too afraid to take on the crazed senator, and righteous stands taken against viral tyranny infecting the whole country. Not so much. Good people doing their job, which is nice, but isn't the stuff of high drama. To me, this wasn't a bad movie at all, but it did seem like a movie that could have been a whole lot better. Good Night, and Good Luck was a lot like The Insider in that they are both movies about the extent to which this country's corporations will allow (or, more often, DISallow), a free and open press, but for me, The Insider was a far better indictment against quashing the press in favor of money, fear and politics, and just a far better movie overall. Michael Mann's best film to date is filled to bursting with backroom wheeling and dealing, righteous stands taken, courage left and right, and it's got Russell Crowe and Al Pacino. In fact, go out and rent it if you haven't seen it. For a great review/examination, check out Film Slack. Then see it, you won't be disappointed.

After Good Night and Good Luck, we went to Oxford Comics over on Piedmont and it is an awesome comic book store. Lots of awesome stuff for geeks to buy, like, for example, a new hardcover edition of Alan Moore's Watchmen with a fancy slipcase for just $75. Mmmm. Christmas. After THAT, we drove back to Decatur and saw Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. I like Nick Parks and I like Wallace and Gromit. I've seen all of their short films which are great. They're kinetic and very amusing, and this movie managed to be both of those things as well. It was exactly as I expected, though with some very funny sexual innuendoes that I wasn't. In the end though, I just thought perhaps the movie suffered a little from being overly, oh, I don't know... British. Parks is always careful not to be too funny, or too thrilling, or too scary, or too anything. Everything is just so, hand-crafted (from time to time, you can see the animators' fingerprints in the plasticine characters, which is kind of endearing) and often I thought to myself, upon seeing some new invention or 3-D animation technique, "Wow, that's pretty inventive," but it felt like all of Parks's painstaking work to create a quaint, uniquely British feel, which I took as an effort to make sure no one had too strong a reaction to any one moment in the movie, had a cumulative effect of creating a film that makes not much of an impression at all. Pleasant to watch while it's on, but when it's gone, it flies right out of mind. But lots of cute bunnies.

Well time is running out before it's Saturday, so I need to post this to keep my weekday streak alive. Hope everyone had a great Friday and everyone has a good weekend.


Fried Pepperoni said...

Thanks for the link, nipplehead. I saw Clooney on Sunday Morning Shootout recently and he made no mention of the film ever being a TV movie. Weird, huh? He mentioned his father was a one time newsman (in Cincinnati, no less) about six different times, but I wonder if your reaction of "limited ambitions" is a result of his trying to create a film that was politically balanced (and maybe it isn't - it's just what he said he was trying to do). He said he knew he had to cover his butt with all the research or he would be immediately attacked for creating a polemic. As if something's wrong with that......

Anyway, did you hear there was a huge fire at the Aardman headquarters? A bunch of stuff from the vaults (clay mostly, I imagine) was destroyed. Sucks. Maybe they're cursed. (Get it?)


JudgeHolden said...

Maybe that's what I was missing, the polemical aspect. I love polemical movies, though that's easy for me to say because I can't think of a single one that espoused a point of view that disagreed with my own. Part of the problem with the movie, I think, was that the only real villain in the movie was McCarthy, and he was portrayed by the real Joseph McCarthy and of course he was only on television screens. That made the drama, such as it is, seem a little more real, but it also made for a disembodied antagonist, which never makes for potent conflict. Oh, and another thing. Clooney telegraphs one character's arc so hardcore, you know what's going to happen to said character the moment they appear on-screen. A more confident director would have let it play out a little more subtly. If you see it, you'll know what I'm talking about.

And yeah, I did read about the Aardman fire, which sucks. But I also read that Parks had Wallace and Gromit with him at the time of the fire, so at least they survived.

blankfist said...

Yes, they managed to escape and survive this time. Curses, foiled again! But, I will get those blasted clay baddies if it's the last thing I do.

I cannot wait to see Wallace and Grommit. HB and I were supposed to check it out tonight, but she has an engagement with her friends tonight -- c'est la vive. Maybe next weekend I will see it. Or fuck it, maybe tonight I will rush out and see it, sans her! Yeah!

Why am I so excited?

Fried Pepperoni said...

Because you're gay.