Saturday, November 12, 2005


Capote and Good Night and Good Luck

Interesting that these should come out around the same time as they both serve to fill in the backstory to events I was aware of but too young at the time to get the whole picture. Both have an awful lot in common as they fill in the backstories of what was going on when CBS and McCarthy were sparring during the commie witch hunt days as well as what Capote went thru while writing a breakthru form of non-fiction novel.

In "Good Night and Good Luck", I learned how much peril Murrow was in as well as the risk the head of CBS was taking when challenging the bullying that McCarthy was getting away with. The movie portrays Murrow's reporting as the tipping point in history where the tide shifts against McCarthy and his final fall from power. Filmed beautifully in black and white, (Murrow is never without a cigarette with it's dramatically lit smoke curling languidly thruout) it was jarring sometimes watching vintage scenes from the 50's filmed with the flash of contemporary camera movement and angles. The very active camera was the one thing that saved the film from dragging even more than it could have because it's very much a talky drama/documentary.
I left the film wanting to know a bit more about Murrow than I saw. I'd no more idea of what made him want to take on McCarthy after it was over than I did when it started.

"Capote" fills in a few more blanks for me as well about Capote and his book, "In Cold Blood". All I recall is that he was the funny talking guy I used to see on late night TV talk shows but I never knew then what he was famous for nor why he was so odd. The film starts with the farmhouse murder and shows us Capote's journey thru research and writing of the story and his, in a way, seduction of one of the murderers as he befriends him to get the complete story out of him to complete the book. Hoffman mimics Capote brilliantly and the whole film is artfully done. "Capote" came closer to getting under the skin of it's lead character than "Good Night. . ." did, but I still left feeling that I wasn't allowed close enough.