Tag Archives: Good Night and Good Luck

Reviewing Movies – a Critic’s Job

Christopher Orr’s review of “There Will Be Blood” in the New Republic, which can be read here, encompasses both a broad overview of the movie as well as subjective details that the potential viewer might be interested in. It has an authoritative tone as it spans through a spectrum of pertinent areas. As I read the review, I gained a new appreciation for the movie and learned a new perspective thanks to Orr’s critical evaluation.

As with A. O. Scott’s Review of “Good Night and Good Luck” in The New York Times, reading the review after actually seeing the movie for myself added even more of a meaning to it. I caught more of the interesting points in the review that I missed before and remembered important details in the film that I dismissed while watching it. Orr was incredibly insightful in his analysis of “Blood,” and he evidently understood some of the plot’s underlying themes that I wasn’t able to grasp from watching the movie just once.

Orr began the review by evaluating the opening scenes of the movie and the significance of its symbolism. Though it was dialogue-free it said a lot in the intensity of the shots. Orr makes sure to mention all of the big names of the movie from the bat, including its director and main characters. He also ties in the title of the movie to the various forms of blood shown in the movie. He shows his expertise in the directors’ previous works by comparing it to the Gangs of New York. Lastly, Orr discusses his expectations versus the ending offered in the film.

Scott’s review is more concise and to the point, extracting the most meaning out of each written word. He summed up the background setting of the movie in the first couple of sentences; then went on to describe the historical events that the movie corresponded to accurately and with a specific directing style. His review also included the main names associated with the film and alluded to the director’s previous work. After reading Scott’s point of view, I got the sense that he is of high esteem of the film and feels that its means achieved the purpose.

If I were to write a review of either of these two movies, it would be hard to compete with these two experts because they have developed very detailed and insightful critiques. However, I could look to these reviews as examples for my future review. I haven’t decided on a subject yet, but my structure would probably be similar to these two works. I would try to develop a careful analysis of the movie, show or performance of my choice. Of course, I would mention the director’s and main character’s names throughout my review, and try to show that I have done research by including some comparison. I would also try to notice details that the average viewer might miss, proposing a significance of the director’s choice for a particular scene.


Review of “Good Night, and Good Luck” Review

From the beginning A.O. Scott’s review of the 2005 movie Good Night and Good Luck, called “News in Black, White and Shades of Gray” opens with an evaluative critic’s stance of the overall effect of the film. Scott notes the setting, brief background, and directing style in the opening lines of the review.

Throughout the review, Scott is concise and on-point with his observations and comments about the plot and the direction of the movie, describing only the vital details and including the pertinent names of characters and directors. Only after watching the movie myself did I realize how skillfully the rich material of the film was summed up within the limited amount of words in this article.

For example, this is demonstrated just in the scope covered by his first sentence, which reads, “Shot in a black-and-white palette of cigarette smoke, hair tonic, dark suits and pale button-down shirts, ‘Good Night, and Good Luck’ plunges into a half-forgotten world in which television was new, the cold war was at its peak, and the Surgeon General’s report on the dangers of tobacco was still a decade in the future.” This sentence contains a multitude of information. Not only does it vividly illustrate the setting and background for the film, it also heightens the reader’s interest to read on.

Scott mentions in passing the special filming technique called cinéma-vérité style, which is closely associated to the way a documentary would unfold. It is a simple and realistic, and often behind the scenes, flow of montage, with very few fancy editing tricks of blending or fading. Additionally, Scott briefly describes the gist of the climax and only alludes to McCarthyism as the underlying tone of the film. Senator Joseph R. McCarthy comes alive by the movie’s resurrected clips of his historically accurate speeches. Scott also compares the film to Clooney’s prior production, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and views the two as companion pieces.

It is obvious that Scott dedicated his time and effort gathering information to develop a stance and strengthen it. He composes interesting characteristics of the film, evoking more meaning with fewer words. Referring to the choice to film the movie in black and white he writes, “that layer of the story is, as it should be, in stark black-and-white, but there is a lot of gray as well, and quite a few questions that are not so easily resolved.” In his last paragraph, Scott is determined to show that he is an admirer and supporter of the film, whose themes were rightly explored by the directing.