Review: Good Night, and Good Luck (2005)

David Strathairn as Edward R. Murrow

George Clooney’s second directorial attempt is a must see. Eloqeuntly filmed in black and white, Good Night, and Good Luck is the story of broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow and his historical fight with Senator Joseph McCarthy during the 1950’s Red Scare.

David Strathairn stars as the legendary Murrow in a performance that is sure to win him an Academy Award nomination. He makes the chain-smoking Murrow seem fallible, noble, funny, and huiman, while making you forget that Murrow is a legend.

The film also stars Clooney as Fred Friendly, producer and Murrow’s main confidant. Robert Downey Jr. plays Joe Wershba, a reporter who must hide his marriage to a fellow staffer (played by Patrica Clarkson), and Frank Langella (as Bill Paley, CBS network boss).

Good Night, and Good Luck opens at a 1958 banquet, honoring Murrow for his landmark broadcasting career. Murrow’s acceptance speech frames Clooney’s masterpiece.

Then came Edward R. Murrow, who believed that if television must be used for anything, it must be used to educate people and benefit society. Along with Friendly, he decides to use his CBS news show See it Now to challenge McCarthy. In the process, he loses his sponsers and almost his job. But the risk, pays off as the collapse of McCarthy’s power soon follows.

Clooney’s film is indeed a work of art, that excites, intrigues, and terrifies you all at once. Most of all, Good Night, and Good Luck makes journalistic integrity look appealing and frankly, sexy. Overall, the movie is funny, inspiring, and well worth theater ticket prices.

As Murrow once said, “We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason.” With that, good night and good luck.

Review: Crash (2005)

Crash was released in May to critical acclaim, little moviegoers, and much outrage.

The film deals honestly and openly with the issues people are afraid to discuss in fear of being offensive. Crash deals directly with race relations in the United States, which even in today’s society can be an unmentionable topic.

The film is set in Los Angeles over a three-day period. The characters are loosely linked through a series of events that reshapes their minds and lives in some way. Every stereotype possible is explored, if not mentioned constantly during this film.

The characters include: the District Attorney and his wife (Brendan Fraser and Sandra Bullock), homicide detectives (Don Cheadle and Jennifer Esposito), the television director and his wife (Terrence Howard and Thandie Newton), the veteran and obviously bigoted cop (Matt Dillon), the rookie and naive cop (Ryan Phillipe), the Persian shop owner and his wise daughter (Shaun Toub and Bahar Soomekh), the Hispanic locksmith and his 5 year-old daughter (Michael Pena and Ashlyn Sanchez), and two car jackers who want lives off of the streets (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Larenz Tate), and the Asian driver (Greg Joung Paik). In this ensemble cast each character is important, no matter how large or small their role may be.

The film often jumps from scene to scene too quickly, but that is not as important as what the characters present. For instance, the rookie cop tries to see good in everyone. But, the veteran police officer warns him that over time his dormant beliefs will come out and he too will start treating people, not as individuals but by the stereotypes their ethnicity implies.

If anything Crash showcases what people are afraid to talk about. It shows that every human is capable of stereotyping but also that every human is capable of acceptance and understanding.
The Sandra Bullock character discovers that after an accident her only true friend is her Hispanic housekeeper who she often treated with disrespect.

This is a very powerful film and deserves to be seen because most importantly, it makes you think. Think about where we’ve come from as a country and where we will be in twenty tears. And especially if in 20 years this country will need a major motion picture to deal directly with what the government and everyday Americans choose to ignore.

Review: Touch of Pink (2004)

Cary Grant is back and better than ever in this little-seen diaspora cinema comedy. How can Cary Grant be back if he’s been dead for the last 20 years? That is exactly the question he asks you in the beginning of Touch of Pink. Of course, it’s not the real Cary Grant, but rather his spirit who acts as a guide to Alim, a young man living in London.

Alim is an Indian who was born in Kenya, grew up in Toronto and now lives in London to escape his overbearing mother, Nuru and his past. He works as a set photographer for the movie industry, he in a serious relationship with his boyfriend Giles and he couldn’t be happier. That is until his mother comes to visit and tries to persuade Alim to come home. There is one problem Nuru doesn’t know that her son is gay. Throughout the picture Alim hides his relationship with Giles from his mother which only creates more problems. But he shouldn’t fear because Cary Grant, played wonderfully by Kyle MacLachlan, is there to guide Alim through all of his troubles.

Touch of Pink is filled with references to many of Grant’s movies including: The Bishop’s Wife, Charade, The Philadelphia Story and most importantly Gunga Din. There is this running bit about Cary Grant has to attend an Indian wedding and he arrives dressed like his character from Gunga Din. It’s priceless.

This movie will be a treat for any Cary Grant fan.

Review: Monsieur Ibrahim (2003)

Omar Sharif (Lawrence of Arabia; Doctor Zhivago) stars as Monsieur Ibrahim, the owner of a small Paris grocery store. He adopts a local Jewish boy, Momo(Pierre Boulanger) as his own and the movie follows their unique friendship as it takes them on the journey of lifetime.

This the first foreign film in while that I really enjoyed. I’ll admit I’m a sucker for these types of movies. You know, when the older wiser man takes in the boy with no direction and becomes a father figure to him. But Monsieur Ibrahim added a little something extra that separates it from the pack.

This film explores to very different cultures. The one of the aging Muslim, connected to his religion and tells Momo that he only” knows what is in his Koran”. The young Jew, however, knows little of his faith. Set during the 1960’s in a working class Paris, it adds in splices of American influence with clearly American music. It is the music that connects the different cultures presented in the film.

Most of all, this film is funny, charismatic, full of life and rich with culture. Monsieur Ibrahim is an emotional journey that if you choose to take, you will find rewarding.

Review: March of the Penguins (2005)

In the harshest place on Earth, love finds a way…

It takes a lot to impress me at the movies and I speak for most people when I say that what I to know is why I just spent 10 dollars only to be mildly impressed. Seriously. The only two times I can really remember being completely enthralled at the movies was when I saw Million Dollar Baby in January and The Lion King when I was 5. This movie makes it three.

Now, my adventure to see March of the Penguins began when my big sis Kate told me showed me the preview on the web. Rarely do I anticipate any film, believing that I will only be disappointed if I expect too much, but because penguins are another one of my teeny tiny obsessions, I was excited for this movie. What made March of the Penguins so memorable was not only the film, but where I went to see it.

I spent four days last week with Kate in Washington D.C. and we wemt to see this movie, at the AFI Theater in Silver Spring.

March of the Penguins follows the Emperor penguins of Antarctica as they make an incredible and exhausting journey from the ocean to the place where they were born in order to mate and start their families. These penguins battle freezing winter storms, starvation, and sea lions all for the love of their babies. French film maker Luc Jacquet, and cinematographers Laurent Chalet and Jerome Maison, followed the Emperor penguins in their native habitat for the nine month mating season.

As I think about this documentary in retrospect, it does remind me of The Lion King. (Work with me on this one.) Aside from the obvious animal kingdom references and the notion of family, it brings an element to a film suitable for young children and that is the simple reminder that life is not easy and that not everything goes perfect. If I were seven or eight years old, the image of that cute and cuddly baby penguin frozen to death would forever be burned into my mind.

The film in the entirety is not depressing at all. In fact, it is a celebration of the animal kingdom’s ability to survive and outlast and how in certain ways the Emperor penguin, perhaps the most majestic bird on Earth, is like humans, searching for family and happiness. It is a breathtaking film that leaves a lasting impression on anyone who watches it. Believe me it is worth the 10 dollars to see in the theaters, unlike that latest Tom Cruise vehicle that shall remain nameless. And the added bonus is that you get to spend 80 minutes listening to narrator Morgan Freeman’s dreamy voice.