1.20.08 ~ Good Night, and Good Luck.

January 20, 2008

Today’s Music: “Remember Me As A Time of Day”, Explosions in the Sky
(This song, for whatever reason, really makes me think of Brad.)

TODAY’S TOPIC: Review of Good Night, and Good Luck.

Got this from Netflix with Pan’s. I had wanted to see it when it was out in the theaters, but that was back while I was in wretched Downers Grove and it just didn’t work out. >_> The film is a “docudrama” about the battle between Edward R. Murrow and Senator McCarthy, back during the whole Communist scare. I will be the first to admit it was not at all what I expected.

That didn’t mean it wasn’t excellent.

First things first, the film was black’n’white. Considering the kick I’m on now, this was a huge turn-on.

At an hour and a half, the movie runs at average length, but I’ll tell you, it definitely felt too short. I could have done with another hour. Superbly acted, the entire piece just sorta sucked me in and wouldn’t let go. Engrossing is a good word. The sparse soundtrack had music in all the right places. The acting was tight. Jeff Daniels is Jeff Daniels. I love Robert Downey Jr. – I think I might pick up A Scanner Darkly and try watching that again. What am I saying, the entire cast did a damn fine job.

What I realized, as I was watching the movie, was that a.) it is fantastically relevant to current affairs, and b.) it’s a movie meant to speak to today’s viewers about the role of the news media more than it’s meant to inform its audience about the Red scare from so long ago. I need to start taking notes during some of these – there were lines Murrow delivered that were things I know we’ve all thought during the course of this Bush administration debacle and the election circus that’s going on. About how it’s the media’s responsibility to be fair and honest and to give voices to everyone. To rise up against the politicians, not be controlled by them. To become a strange version of a shining beacon of hope when the government is trying to use fear tactics and propaganda to control and subvert a nation. Sound familiar?

Anyway, make an hour and a half and watch this film. This was a good Netflix weekend.

Pros: Amazing ensemble acting, fantastic cinematography, awesome sound, excellent storytelling and seamless integration of historical material.

Cons: It was too short. I could have easily watched three hours of this, if the quality could be maintained.

***** out of *****
Five out of Five.


1.19.08 ~ 1. Dreams From My Father, Barack Obama

January 19, 2008

(Fair warning: I feel terrible this morning, and am fighting waves of nausea. This post reads like a 9th grade book review. For that, I’m sorry. Really, consider reading this book.)

Today’s Music: “Fanshawe”, El Ten Eleven

TODAY’S TOPIC: Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, Barack Obama

So, a while ago I got a couple people hooked on this Blog Challenge. Read 50 books you’ve never read before in the span of a year and blog about them. I decided it should be my main New Years Resolution. I’m a little behind, but I didn’t start until the 8th or 9th. But I’m going to try to get this done by the 31st of December. Feel free to join me in it!

Book #1 is Dreams From My Father, Barack Obama’s first book. I expected it to be more about politics and a story of his coming of age into the man he is today. It was, but the book was by far more a commentary about living across the color line. While not what I expected, it was definitely refreshing. Obama writes in a familiar, friendly, accessible voice that can make the book an easy and enjoyable read for anyone with a 10th grade reading level. As someone with a considerably higher reading level, I still found the book a quick and engrossing read.

Obama begins by recounting his earliest memories of children, and continues to work through the first thirty-odd years of his life. What sets this piece apart from other accounts of Issues of Color and autobiographies of African American people is that Mr. Obama must grapple with being black, and being white simultaneously. He often visits the guilt he would feel when joining his friends in white-bashing, knowing that his mother and grandparents (who raised him) were certainly not black. He also does an excellent job of drawing the audience in, and driving them to ask questions of others and themselves by presenting these same general questions he was often asking him. I imagine it would be an excellent addition to the core literature of any Current Events class, sociology, social psychology, and a number of other classes. With its high-school reading level voice, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it start popping up in cirriculum, most especially if Mr. Obama wins the Democratic nomination.

I dove into this book to know more about the candidate I support. I found its approach startlingly honest, inspiring, serious without being preachy, and pretty close to captivating. I had a hard time putting it down once I really got into a reading session. A quick and easy read – if you’ve got the least bit of interest in Barack Obama as a politician, president, or living human being, I’d definitely recommend it. Not the best book I’ve ever read, but one of the best philosophy-of-race books I’ve read.

**** out of *****