NYFF Opening Night: GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK

By tully | "Boredom at Its Boredest" by Michael Tully September 23, 2005 at 7:16AM

NYFF Opening Night: GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK
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Well, I for one won't be at tonight's opening night festivities (I'm embarking on a far more glorious adventure), but I did happen to attend yesterday's press screening. As for the press conference itself, I was shocked to witness supposedly civil, seemingly intellectual individuals turn into hyperventilating kindergarteners upon George Clooney's arrival. I couldn't believe my eyes. Fortunately, things settled down and Clooney proceeded to charm the eyebrows off everyone in the room.

As for the film itself, here we go (again, remember that I rate films on a five-star basis):

GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK ****

George Clooney has made a striking leap forward with his second film, which doesn't deserve the backlash that is already being swept onto it. If anything, the fact that people are so quick to point out its rather economic scope is a tribute to Clooney's achievement, for when did Clooney say he was out to make "The Most Important Film Ever?" GOOD NIGHT is a complicated, assured, engaging, honest, and thought-provoking retelling of the Murrow/McCarthy showdown. While it's borderline "The Coldplay Effect," ultimately, the film is too sincere and well-executed to earn that unfortunate label. Though I will stoop to the level of the negativers out there and agree that it might not be the stunning masterpiece the hype has made it out to be. Still, I do believe it's a solid, impressive achievement.

I'll go out on a limb and state that David Straithairn will be nominated for an Oscar for his ferociously tense performance. But it is Ray Wise who steals the show. His mere face is enough to make you cry, but wait until you get a load of his sad sack Don Hollenbeck. It'll make you a sadder person, if only for the fleeting moments that he graces the screen.

As for the actual look of the film, my good buddy Christian Zak and the folks at Technicolor did wonders to seamlessly blend the stock footage with Robert Elswit's gorgeous black-and-white photography, which should also get an Oscar nod.

The film takes place indoors entirely, and consists of a handful of locations, which only adds to the newsroom tension. Again, this decision is what limits the film in potential ways and has many people downplaying the overall effect, but I feel like that's what makes it so impressive. It's a minor-key film that has major-key life.

Where the stylistic excursions made it impossible to have a genuine emotional connection to CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND, GOOD NIGHT's artful aesthetic is never distracting or self-conscious. And that is what impressed me most about Clooney's achievement, in addition to the film's painfully vital message. He has come quite a long way from that first messy effort.

So, in summation, when sitting down to watch GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK, do yourself a favor and squash the lofty expectations. You'll be more pleasantly surprised that way. It's a really good film.

This article is related to: Indie Film