In 5, 4, 3, 2... Good evening and welcome to Cuemarks Broadcast News, I'm Don Cameron. The main headline tonight... riots have broken out in my head after I successfully finished watching twenty one movies and a three series TV show about television news, all in the space of a month. We do not have confirmed reports of any casualties at this time, however an uncorroborated source is suggesting that the right side of my brain may now be dead, and the left side is pleading never to see another movie about the news ever again. We go over now to our light entertainment reporter live at the scene, for biased and opinionated comments on whether any of these movies were actually worth seeing...
"This might just do nobody any good. At the end of this discourse, a few people may accuse this reporter of fouling his own comfortable nest, and your organization may be accused of having given hospitality to heretical and even dangerous ideas. But the elaborate structure of networks, advertising agencies, and sponsors will not be shaken or altered. It is my desire if not my duty to try to talk to you journeymen with some candor about what is happening to radio and television, and if what I say is responsible, I alone am responsible for the saying of it. Our history will be what we make of it. And if there are any historians about fifty or a hundred years from now, and there should be preserved the kinescopes of one week of all three networks, they will there find, recorded in black and white and in color, evidence of decadence, escapism, and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live. We are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable, and complacent. We have a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information - our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses, and recognize that television, in the main, is being used to distract, delude, amuse, and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it, and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture, too late." (David Strathairn, as Edward R. Murrow, in George Clooney's 'Good Night, and Good Luck')
The Newsroom (2012-2014)
I've been a fan of Sorkin's writing for a few years, with consistently strong scripts for the likes of The West Wing, The Social Network, A Few Good Men, Moneyball, and Steve Jobs. Having now finished the last of The Newsroom's three seasons, for me this is right up there with his best work. Jeff Daniels is in his element as the big name anchorman who rips up his old 'safe news' routine and starts making waves with a fearless approach to news reporting and holding feature guests to account. He's never been better than this. Emily Mortimer matches that though with her career best performance as his producer, and to make matters more complicated, former partner. The way she handles her team of reporters and journalists is at times a marvel to watch, with an especially fantastic scene in the broadcast control room that kicks off one of the series. Events in that scene flow at such speed that it's difficult to comprehend how much rehearsal must have gone into something that ambitious and as impressively choreographed as any high-end dance sequence. The two leads were the only faces I was familiar with, but it’s Olivia Munn (as Sloan Sabbath) who almost steals the show from under them, a quirkily funny and smart actor who feels like she would have been perfect casting in something like Ally McBeal. As for the rest of the scripts' characterisation, I could have done with less of the office love triangles, it starts to grate after a while and detracts from the show's strong storylines (many of which are based on real events like 9/11). Aside from a few quibbles though, the dialogue, storylines and acting get better with every series, in fact the six-part final series is so good that I watched the entire six hours of it in a single day. As much as I love movies, if you handed me a six hour film my enthusiasm for seeing it all in one go would have dropped to nil. Thoroughly recommended. Now onto the movies.
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)
Broadcast News (1987)
Bruce Almighty (2003)
The China Syndrome (1979)
Good Night, and Good Luck (2005)
Groundhog Day (1993)
The Insider (1999)
Mad City (1997)
Medium Cool (1969)
Money Monster (2016)
Morning Glory (2010)
One PM Central Standard Time (2013)
best films of last year list, and I'm now of the opinion that it should have been top of the pile. The fact that it wasn't even nominated for the Oscars shows how out of touch those awards are. As I've already written about it twice before on this blog, if you'll forgive the indulgence I'm just going to quote myself: Jake Gyllenhall is Lou Bloom, an intense, creepy weirdo who gets himself into the business of filming the aftermath of horrific nighttime tragedies for television news. "If it bleeds it leads". So he and a hired assistant go fleeing around the city hunting for car crash and murder victims to film for money, getting more and more obsessed by obtaining footage that no-one else has. A proper thriller, totally original, and proves that no other actor these days does deranged outsiders as well as Gyllenhall. It also shows how different American culture is - in the UK our breakfast news is usually along the lines of; a boring politician saying something boring, a visit to a cheese factory (cheese sales are up 1%) and a heartwarming story about some fluffy kittens. You have to see this movie, it's everything that modern filmmaking should be.
Switching Channels (1988)
To Die For (1995)
Up Close and Personal (1996)
Wrong is Right (1982)
All of these films and my reviews are also available in a list over at IMDb
Coming Up Next
And so that concludes my trawl through the TV news films. If there are any more, I don't know of them, and don't really want to. Next up I'm going to do a rundown of my favourite new films of the year so far, from January to June, so for the rest of the month I'll be catching up with those I've missed. Until then, good night, and good luck.