Friday, October 07, 2005

Camera Obscura - And Now, The News

First, the news - "Stately Wayne Manor" is still standing. Early reports cited that the house once used as the home of the 60s TV version of "Batman" had been gutted by fire, but turns out the fire destroyed another house.

In other superhero news, it turns out that Nicolas Cage is Superman's father!! Yes, Kal-El is a member of the Coppola family. I wonder if that means Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes expected child will be named Lex Luthor?

David Straithairn as Edward R. Murrow

Since we're on television topics, one movie on its way to theatres now captures a tense and terrifying time, which echoes our own current plight - a nation terrified and the media's fear to speak opinions outside the approved talking points. "Good Night and Good Luck" is a tour de force based on journalist Edward R. Murrow's volatile collision with a legendary liar, Sen. Joe McCarthy in the early 50s. Actor David Stratharin brings life to Murrow thought McCarthy is instead played by himself via existing TV footage. Smoky, jazzy, and black and white, the movie by director/actor George Clooney has a little budget and rave reviews.

As the current networks struggle to deal with the losses of all its major news anchors - Jennings, Rather, Koppel, Brokaw - and the endless rapid-rerun cable news, Clooney brings a reminder of just how television got it's chops. Comparing the ultra-cool savvy of Murrow to today's crowd of shrill talking-heads reveals a benchmark level of intelligence and truthfulness that has somehow slipped away.

It isn't easy to make a movie about the news biz that has the knack for grabbing and audience, and one of my favorites is the 1931 classic, "Five Star Final." Made in grade-A, Pre-Code style by director Mervyn LeRoy, the movie was nominated for a Best Picture and showcased a new rising star, Edward G. Robinson. With machine-gun dialog and editing, the story follows a rotten newspaper staff as they dish up dirt on a 20-year old murder case to increase sales.

Sordid, tasteless and cruel, the newspaper operations are ghoulish and the shock of this old murder case literally takes lives as the movie unspools. Hollywood has yet to top this one and it has a hard-boiled, gritty and nearly documentary-level reality that can rattle any audience.

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