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NYFF: “Good Night, and Good Luck.”

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David StrathairnIn the press notes, George Clooney says of his second directorial effort, "Good Night, and Good Luck": "There’s an opportunity that one in a hundred young kids actually might learn who [Edward R.] Murrow is and have some discussion and have some understanding of what and how dangerous a democracy can be if fear is used as a weapon." Ah, George — there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell one in a hundred young kids actually might watch your tasteful recreation of CBS newsman Murrow’s war with Senator Joseph McCarthy in the early 50s. "Good Night, and Good Luck" is a fairytale comfort food for disaffected liberals, and we won’t deny that we felt a warm glow watching it: Because their consciences and personal integrity demanded it, these journalists took a stand! Against HUAC! And took the higher ground! They used McCarthy’s own words as weapons against him! And America responded!

The obvious comparison here is "All the President’s Men," but "Good Night, and Good Luck" lacks the tension of Alan Pakula‘s film, and the slightly sleazy rakishness of Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford‘s Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. David Strathairn is great as Murrow, Brylcreemed and world-weary, but he’s a white knight, armed with a news magazine show and backed by a group of go-get-’em young reporters. Strathairn has Murrow’s staring-down-the-camera, carefully enunciated delivery down pat, but it’d be nice to see more of his personality (as in one remarkably eloquent glance after being congratulated on his chat with Liberace for "Person to Person," the celebrity interview show Murrow did "to pay the bills"). Clooney is fine as Murrow’s longtime co-producer and friend Fred Friendly; Robert Downey Jr. and Patricia Clarkson don’t have much to do as two members of the news crew who are secretly married, and provide the only real glimpse of a home life we get in the film.

A lot of vintage footage from the era is integrated into the film, most notably of McCarthy — producer Grant Heslov claims this is because no matter who they got to play McCarthy, people wouldn’t find him believable: "They were going to think that the guy was over-acting." We think the decision was a mistake — with the film’s action so confined to the CBS building, the fact that Murrow’s great foe is only seen piped in on newsreels and television screens around the office downplays the stakes involved — as much as the real Murrow and McCarthy only battled it out over the airwaves, seeing Strathairn taking on a tape of the long-dead senator is a bit reminiscent of watching someone pretend to have a conversation with a pre-recorded video of themselves.

The camerawork is generally as straightforward as the story, though sometimes Clooney shows a touch of Soderbergh‘s (who executive produced) influence, playing with focus and off-center close-ups. He does have a nice trick where, when the show is live on air, we see the production board, with one screen showing whatever footage they’re rolling, and another  keeping on Murrow and his off-air reactions.

"Good Night, and Good Luck" opens in limited release on October 7.

Click here for all the NY Film Festival reviews thus far.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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