Now in theaters: "Good Night, and Good Luck"; "Capote"; and "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang."
Good Night, and Good Luck
This is real gutsy filmmaking from George Clooney. Not only did he shoot this in black and white; and not only has his co-star been dead for 48 years, but there's no score in "Good Night and Good Luck." The only music in the movie is when the CBS guys go to a local bar and listen to a jazz singer.
By using actual news footage of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, Clooney allows the senator to play himself in all his ranting infamy. There's a story going around -- and as far as I can find out, it's true -- that when Hollywood executives saw a rough cut of the film, they asked who the actor was who played McCarthy. "Too over-the-top" was the consensus.
David Strathairn should earn an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of legendary newsman Edward R. Murrow, and so should Clooney for the screenplay. If some story points seem obscure, it's because Clooney refused to sacrifice reality for drama and exposition, and he gets points for that, too.
"Good Night and Good Luck" will make my 10-best list. It's unquestionably one of the best films of the year. Grade A-
Phillip Seymour Hoffman must be nominated for his uncanny portrayal of Truman Capote. It's frightening and fascinating, as Capote researches the multiple murders that became "In Cold Blood." And this film shows us why it would be the last book he ever wrote. Grade: A-
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
Robert Downey Jr. is a cheap crook, robbing a toy store to get his nephew a Christmas present. Cops show up, Downey's partner is shot, and he escapes ... into a late-night audition for a TV show.
Downey gets the part and trains with a private eye, played by Val Kilmer, who is known as "Gay Perry." Together, they'll have to solve a real murder mystery.
I love movies about movies and this is one of the best. And "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" isn't sour grapes. Writer-director Shane Black wrote and was well paid for all the "Lethal Weapon" movies. What's lethal here are the laughs. Because writers nominate writers, my money's on an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay. Grade: B+