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Movie Review: NOW PLAYING

December 8, 2005

&

145;Good Night and Good Luck&

excels

There are more than a few reasons to see &

Good Night and Good Luck.&

Like &

Capote,&

it has a first rate performance by David Strathairn, a gifted actor who has been slipping into movies for decades, barely noticed, and delivering small but inspired performances. &

Good Night&

should be his breakthrough film. Cast as Edward R. Murrow, one of the most recognized broadcasters of the 1940s and 50s, Strathairn nails Murrow&

s persona, as well as the timbre and cadence of his voice. Those who knew Murrow swear that Strathairn is so spot-on that it&

s eerie.

Some of the best acting in Hollywood is being done by character actors, those journeyman performers who deliver portrayals wherein they disappear so completely in the role that the audience is hardly aware that it is seeing a tour de force performance, which describes Straithairn&

s career to date exactly.

&

Good Night&

also captures perfectly a moment in our nation&

s history often referred to as the McCarthy era. A time when many Americans were terrified of being singled out as being communists or communist sympathizers. It was a period when loyalty oaths were demanded, when Russia and China loomed as serious threats, and a time when a Senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy, began holding hearings into what was called &

un-American activities.&

Using innuendo, hearsay, and uncorroborated information, as well as the subpoena power of Congress, he called before his committee person after person, made reckless charges, held those who resisted in contempt, and ruined countless lives. The chilling effect on America&

s institutions &

departments of government, the entertainment industry, the press &

was pervasive.

What &

Good Night&

focuses on is the courageous decision by Murrow and his colleagues to step forward and confront McCarthy, using the man&

s own words and images to show the viewing public the face of demagoguery. On March 9, 1954, Murrow devoted the thirty minutes allotted for his show, &

See It Now,&

to a careful examination of McCarthy and this tactics. On air Murrow stated, &

We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason ... we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who fear to write, to speak, to associate and defend causes that were for the moment unpopular.&

This film does a remarkable job conveying exactly what was involved in taking such a stand with the full understanding that it placed not only Murrow but all of his associates and reporters as well as the executives of CBS in jeopardy. Because almost all of the film takes place in the CBS studio, the sense of fear and apprehension are palpable. It was a seminal moment, a profile in courage, which is powerfully revealed as Murrow and company weigh what they are about to do.

&

Good Night,&

is so well done as a period piece, filmed in black and white, that it comes perilously close to being a documentary: there is only the vaguest narrative arc, and what there is focuses intently on the implications of taking on McCarthy. The characters are not explored in any significant way and so we care more about what they are about to do than about them which contributes to the documentary sense of detachment.

What is inescapable is the critical role broadcast journalism played in the eventual downfall of McCarthy. Murrow saw the power inherent in the medium of television and as the film closes he ponders, in a speech to his peers, whether television has a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information and wondered if, in the main, &

it would be used to distract, delude, amuse and insulate us.&

It was a prescient question.

Chronicles of Narnia

A White Witch has used her dark powers to keep Narnia in winter, but it is foretold that four humans will be able to help break the spell. When four siblings&

150;Lucy, Susan, Edmund and Peter&

150;enter the enchanted world through a wardrobe, the stage is set for a classic battle of epic proportions. Tilda Swinton, Georgie Henley, William Moseley, Skandar Keynes.

PG for for battle sequences and frightening moments/140 min.

Syriana

A political thriller that tracks several characters with different backgrounds across the globe as they find their lives impacted by ruthless competition for the incalculable power and wealth that drives the energy industry. Written and Directed by Stephen Gaghan (writer "Traffic"); suggested by the book "See No Evil" by Robert Baer George Clooney, Matt Damon, Jeffrey Wright, William Hurt, Michelle Monaghan, Amanda Peet, Christopher Plummer, Tim Blake Nelson, Max Minghella, Chris McDonald, Greta Scacchi.

R for violence and language/126 min.

Shopgirl

Mirabelle, a shopgirl who sells gloves and accessories at Neiman Marcus, feels useless in her job and unfulfilled by a romantic relationship. Then Ray, a rich older man enters her life. Eventually she must choose between the older, wealthy divorcee and the younger, struggling musician. R for some sexual content and brief language/106 min.

Aeon Flux

400 years in the future, disease has wiped out most of the earth's population, except for one walled city-state ruled by a congress of scientists. Aeon Flux, the top operative in an underground rebellion is sent to kill a government leader, but uncovers a world of secrets. Based on the MTV animated series created by Peter Chung. Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Marton Csokas, Jonny Lee Miller, Sopie Okonedo, Pete Postlewaite.

PG-13 for sequences of violence and sexual content/95 min.

Harry Potter and the

Goblet of Fire

Harry is plagued by a horrible vision &

Lord Voldemort and his familiars out for murder. meanwhile, Hogwarts is prepping for the Quidditch World Cup, and the Yule Ball is approaching. PG-13 for sequences of fantasy violence and frightening images/157 min.

Walk the Line

A chronicle of the life of Johnny Cash, from his early days on an Arkansas cotton farm to his rise to fame with Sun Records in Memphis, where he recorded alongside Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins, and his romance with June Carter. PG-13 for some language, thematic material and depiction of drug dependency/133 min.

Capote

In November of 1959 Truman Capote, author of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and a favorite figure in what is soon to be known as the "jet set", reads an article on the back page of the New York Times about the murders of four members of a well-known farm family in Kansas. The story presents an opportunity to test his long-held theory that in the hands of the right writer, non-fiction can be as compelling as fiction. R for some violent images and brief strong language/114 min.

Chicken Little

After Chicken Little mistakes a falling acorn for a piece of the sky and panics, he&

s determined to restore his good name. But then a real piece of the sky lands on his head! Voice talents of Zach Braff, Joan Cusack, Garry Marshall, Wallace Shawn, Don Knotts, Patrick Stewart, Patrick Warburton. G/81 min.

Good Night and Good Luck

In the mid-1950&

s, Edward R. Murrow and his producer, Fred Friendly, helped bring an end to the tyranny of the blacklist and Joseph McCarthy, who had the power to destroy careers and lives by accusing people of being or aiding Communists. Filmed in black and white. PG for mild thematic elements and brief language/100 min.

Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen's classic tale of love and misunderstanding unfolds in class-conscious England near the close of the 18th century. Five sisters have been raised well aware of their mother&

s fixation on finding them husbands and securing set futures. The spirited and intelligent Elizabeth, however, strives to live her life with a broader perspective, as encouraged by her doting father. PG for some mild thematic elements/128 min.

Rent

Based on Pucinni's classic opera "La Boheme", Jonathan Larson's revolutionary rock opera tells the story of a group of bohemians struggling to live and pay their rent in the gritty background of New York's East Village, with AIDS taking its toll. PG-13 for mature thematic material involving drugs and sexuality, and for some strong language/135 min.

Just Friends

A former high school geek turned trendy Los Angeles music

executive gets stranded in his New Jersey home town due to bad weather with a superstar singer he is trying to sign, and finds himself reunited with his high school crush. PG-13 for sexual content including some dialogue/94 m\in.

Yours, Mine Ours

Two single parents, one with ten children and the other with eight, fall in love and find that weddings - and families &

are impossible to build in a day. Dennis Quaid, Rene Russo, Rip Torn, Linda Hunt PG for some mild crude humor/90 min.

Zathura

Two brothers discover what they believe to be an old board game, but mayhem ensues as they are dragged into a world of meteors, lizard-like aliens, and a rocket-propelled robot run amuck. Directed by Jon Favreau ("Elf") Josh Hutcherson, Jonah Bobo, Dax Shepard, Kristen Stewart, Tim Robbins. PG for fantasy action and peril, and some language/101 min.