25 November 2005 | tedg
Rarely when an actor tries to direct does it work, and when it does you get "character study" without all the supporting scaffold a real filmmaker would provide.
Clooney is a smart man who knows this. So he structures his projects in ways that are well serviced by what he has to give. The last one was an actor playing a character who created a character within. The structure of the thing was all focused on building and exploiting those ambiguities.
Especially clever were the staging devices. Many were novel and a few were particularly striking.
Now this is a more serious, but has the same values. It is after all a character study, and one that deals with these same two worlds. The man when off the camera, and the man on. Fabricated truth as an act by politicians. "Journalism" as way of piercing through those layers.
Two evils, McCarthy and Paley. Clooney's point is that control over the pipeline is what matters in delivering the "real." So he works with some very studied staging. This movie has some of the best staging in recent memory. It must have taken forever to set the angles and lighting. Fortunately these are so powerful that no scene needs more than two setups. This is the way this cinematographer works for PT Andersen too.
The switch in lighting from when Murrow is on the air to just after he goes off is rather thrilling: both are intense, in fact the on-air lighting is stark. But there is a powerful and visible shift from external to internal energy.
If you just saw the script as words on a page, it would seem boring and preachy. It is the staging that makes this thing come alive, that gives a container for the great acting. The only actor who seems off is McCarthy, which is telling.
I have the book Clooney's dad wrote about movies. Fortunately the son has better insights into what works and what doesn't, and has good intuitions about what to attempt.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.