Monday, October 03, 2005

Good afternoon, and whatever.

Dear George Clooney,

I'm glad to know that you had that social studies class about Joseph McCarthy, too. He was one nasty fucker, wasn't he? And, yes, Edward R. Murrow had a pair of brass ones to take on that unholy bastard. So you went and made a movie about Murrow and McCarthy. Not a bad idea, it could be interesting... Oh, uh, but it isn't.

Part of the problem, George (it's cool if I call you George, right?), is you've made a 93 minute movie, wherein a good chunk of the film is just historical recreation. You have an actor doing a crackerjack impression of Murrow, reciting Murrow's speeches, acting opposite of actual McCarthy footage. Those bits are pretty good, but every time you cut away from Murrow's newscasts, the energy and tension bottom out. Why not cobble together all the actual footage into a doc and release it that way? I know you think this era is very prescient, and there's something to that, but you forgot to dramatize the backstory.

Let me tell you something else, George. I saw the film at a screening where you and a whole bunch of USC journalism-types held court afterwards. I get the romanticism of crusading journalists, I really do. But you guys are so insanely self-congratulatory that it borders on delusional. Remember when that USC Prof/former CBS Newsman said that Murrow's 1958 speech (where he argued that TV must illuminate and educate, rather than placate and entertain) was second only to the Declaration of Independence in terms of historical importance? And no one flinched, they just applauded? Yeah? Well, that's crazy talk. (And as for the triumphalism vis-a-vis Cronkite's Vietnam reporting that "ousted" LBJ... Need I point out that Johnson was replaced by R.M. Nixon?) I know that your Pop was a newcaster and I'm sure that much of the Murrow-worship is ingrained, but it's... well, it comes off as a little fanatical and hella naïve. And that fan-boy naïveté informs/infects way too much of the film. Sorry to sound so rough, George, but someone's gotta say it.

There's always Lake Como,



At 7:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said!


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