Having seen Good Night and Good Luck in the theater, and very much enjoyed it despite its flaws, I realized George Clooney was actually a director. This was confirmed when I rented his first film and was treated to a movie which actually used the medium to its advantage. I can be pretty snooty, but anyone who directs by some method other than placing the camera in front of a scene and rolling can be my friend any way. It’s sad, but true: I’m a sucker for actual direction.
George Clooney has been infringing on my perception of him as a not-that-pretty pretty boy for about a year now, both on and off screen, and the sheer style of this film has sold me for good. While obviously credit must go to cinematographer (Newton Thomas Sigel) and editor (Stephen Mirrione), it’s impressive that this was the film he made. The flashbacks are presented in muted, postcard-faded images; time passes in the course of one shot by means of main character (and dangerous mind) Chuck Barris (Sam Rockwell) passing through the scene three times, supposedly in the same take but chronologically quite distant; use of old tv footage is appropriately used as is interview material with the real people involved. All this is in keeping with the frenetic, loopy Charlie Kaufman written story, based on the supposedly true book by the main character. It doesn’t feel jarring or out of place, just colorful.
Which isn’t to say it’s all true. Apart from the game show host/hitman plot we’re supposed to swallow, the film fudges some of its facts. But then again, it’s not a documentary, and it doesn’t really read like one in spite of the “real” segments. If we had any doubts, the arrival of Julia Roberts dispelled them all. What it does read like is a quirky good time by a group of people who knew what they were doing, even if they didn’t do it perfectly. Mr. Clooney has my permission to make more movies.