Thursday, September 17, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks - Journalists/Reporters for Print/TV

Written as part of the weekly blogathon hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves. Join by picking three movies that fit the week's theme and telling us about them!

Is it really Thursday again already? It feels like just yesterday that we were talking about movies on trains. And this week, the theme is journalists/reporters. Ah, the intrepid reporter bungling their way to a career-making story with nothing but pluck, gumption, and a notepad - one of my favorite movie plots! I could have gone classic this week (if you haven't seen His Girl Friday, DO IT. Rosalind Russell is tremendous in it), but I did that last week, so contemporary films were in order. Here we have, for your viewing enjoyment, two fictional journalists who got more than what they bargained for, and one real-life newsman who was much more than his opponents bargained for.

Never Been Kissed (Raja Gosnell, 1999) Josie Geller, played by a radiant Drew Barrymore, starts out as a copy editor, but then one day the Editor-in-Chief of the paper she works for gives her a "real" assignment: go undercover in a high school to report on what teenagers' lives are really like. Of course, Josie had a terrible time when she was in high school (she was nicknamed "Josie Grossy") and wants to succeed this time around. Except that she still has the same temperament she had in high school, and teens haven't changed that much in the intervening years. So then her popular younger brother (David Arquette) goes back to school too, and everyone learns that high school - even one attended by 30 year-olds - is hell, and outer appearances don't always match the inner person. It's all cliché, yes, but Barrymore is impossibly winning, and the ensemble cast (including Michael Vartan, Jessica Alba, Leelee Sobieski, Molly Shannon, John C. Reilly, James Franco, and Garry Marshall in a great cameo as the Editor-in-Chief) is very fun.

The Ring (Gore Verbinski, 2002) Intrepid journalist Rachel Keller is concerned about her son, who has apparently been drawing morbid pictures of his cousin Katie's death.... even before it happened. Being an intrepid journalist, she naturally decides to investigate the mysterious death of her niece. Which of course includes watching this weird-ass videotape she watched in a cabin with friends. A videotape straight out of urban legend. One that causes you to die seven days after you watch it. But Rachel finds out that the legend is all too real. And of course she bumbles her way around trying to get to the bottom of how such a tape came into existence. Both The Ring and the original Japanese film Ringu, on which it is based, have a concept that has horror built right in; the plot itself suggests that the very act of watching the film will kill you. It doesn't get much scarier than that. But Verbinski's film has a sturdier sense of mood than Hideo Nakata's original, and a great performance from Naomi Watts at its center.

Good Night, and Good Luck (George Clooney, 2005) Nightly News anchorman Edward R. Murrow and his team go to battle with Senator Joseph McCarthy, who is on a Communist witch hunt in 1950s America. Clooney's film so ably and completely captures not just the look but the feel of the 50s in every aspect of the production. And while the entire ensemble cast deserves praise, it's character actor David Strathairn, as Murrow, who has the biggest part, and boy does he run with the opportunity, giving a performance that transcends mere mimicry to stand on its own as a performance of solid, deep power. Clooney (whose passion project this was; his father was a TV newsman) couldn't have asked for a better actor to carry this exciting, well-made, important film.

26 comments:

  1. Gahh! This is one of those weeks where I seem to be falling in love with everyone's picks. I haven't seen any of these (I might have watched Never Been Kissed years ago and forgot all about it) but they're going on my watch list right now.
    - Allie

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    1. I know, right?!? Never Been Kissed is so cute.

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  2. Only seen The Ring, although this one is not as haunting as the Japanese version. Frankly, I even forgot if there's a note on journalism in the movie. Great you mentioned that so I remember :D

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    1. Both versions of The Ring are good, but I prefer the American one on the whole. It's creepier and moodier.

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  3. Imagine if you uploaded the killer video from The Ring online! That will keep the Ring girl very busy, haha.

    Anyway, good choice with The Ring. I didn't even think of it. I think both films are as good as each other. The Japanese version is certainly slower mind you.

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    1. Hehehehe the killer video actually IS online.... IF YOU DARE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkVlC2WgEwc

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    2. Thanks man. Now I've got seven days to live. I'm going to Vegas.

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  4. Nice! I also chose The Ring. I can't believe I didn't think of Never Been Kissed! That's the 2nd time I should've used that movie and missed out.

    I haven't seen Good Night, and Good Luck. I probably should.

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    1. I know - I almost picked Never Been Kissed for High School week but then decided to keep it for this one.

      Good Night, and Good Luck is GREAT. Definitely see it.

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  5. Yay, more love for GN&GL! Before today, I totally forgot The Ring involved a journalist. Great choice. Haven't seen the other movie.

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  6. Love the two picks that I've seen. Never Been Kissed is ridiculous in that Drew while young isn't believable for a minute as a high schooler, Arquette even less so, but she is so charming in the film that I was willing to suspend my disbelief and it is a sweet film.

    Love Good Night, and Good Luck! Completely concur about Strathairn he really carried the movie and was utterly brilliant. Its too bad this came out in a year with one of the strongest Best Actor lineups since he really was award worthy.

    I've never quite gotten around to The Ring, it just never appealed to me and I'm variable on Naomi Watts but it does get talked about so much I should break down and watch it.

    Okay I got a little out of control this week since this is one of my favorite genres. I started with 15 possibles and managed to winnow it down to six and could bring myself to cut more. So I've split them in two.

    Broadcast News (1987)-Incisive look at the news division of a Washington D.C. station with a love triangle woven in. Hard driving and ambitious producer Jane Craig (Holly Hunter) is torn between her attractions to the handsome but cloddish Tom Grunick, a new reporter at the station who is on his way up and Aaron Altman a superior reporter who doesn’t have the right look for television despite his skill and who she sees as a brother figure. He loves her desperately and therefore feels a fierce competition with Tom who he sees as inadequate. Set against a station reorganization at a time when hard news departments were still bastions of respectability and fighting the incursion of entertainment news into their formats.

    The Year of Living Dangerously (1982)-An Australian reporter, a very young Mel Gibson, is on assignment in Jakarta during the political upheaval of Sakarno’s rule. He is taken under the wing of Billy Kwan, a brilliant Linda Hunt who won an Oscar, a photographer who worships the leader. Along the way he falls in love with an equally young and striking Sigourney Weaver. He is just starting to build contacts when the situation explodes and it becomes a race for life or death. Filmed with an oppressive atmosphere and tense direction by Peter Weir.

    Libeled Lady (1936)-When his newspaper accidentally prints a false story about an heiress and she threatens to sue for libel he concocts an elaborate scheme to make it appear true, pulling an old friend and his own fiancée into the plan. Things naturally go awry. Classic comedy with four great stars, Jean Harlow, Myrna Loy, Spencer Tracy and William Powell working at the top of their craft. Harlow and Powell were engaged at the time this was made but she died the following year before their marriage could take place.

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    1. I totally agree that both Drew and Arquette are FAR too old to EVER pass as high school age, but the thing that always makes me laugh is that EVERYONE ELSE who plays a student in that movie also looks way too old, so it doesn't even matter. LOL.

      The Ring is surprisingly good. There are some jump scares, yes, but Verbinski smartly goes more for a feeling of sustained dread and creepiness that totally elevates the film. And honestly, it's one of Watts's better performances.

      I LOVE Libeled Lady. Myrna Loy is just a gem. I sadly haven't yet seen Broadcast News or The Year of Living Dangerously. Or All the President's Men. I really like The China Syndrome a lot - although for years I got it mixed up with The Parallax View, for no earthly reason except than that their names are somewhat similar. And then I got it confused with Network, also for no goddamned reason. My brain is weird.

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    2. THE PARALLAX VIEW!! Damn wish I had thought of that one! It would have made a great inclusion. I don't love it as much as All the President's Men, I love few movies that much, but it's a terrific film with one of Warren Beatty's better performances.

      I share your love of Libeled Lady but to me Harlow is the MVP in it and fearless in allowing herself to look ridiculous, the beauty shop scene is quite an eye opener of what women use to have to go through.

      You didn't say if you had seen June Bride. Knowing your love of Bette Davis I think you'd really like it, it gives her a chance to loosen up a bit and with Wickes, Bainter and Betty Lynn supporting her along with Bob Montgomery it's a snappy little affair.

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  7. My first pick in this set is one of my personal top 10 favorite films, I think it's one of the best made films ever.

    All the President’s Men (1976) - Compulsively watchable chronicle of Woodward and Bernstein’s relentless investigation of the Watergate break-in for the Washington Post. For a drama that is all talk this is a fascinating viewing experience with exceptional work from the entire cast and perfectly judged direction by Alan J. Pakula.

    The China Syndrome (1979)-While on location for a documentary on energy at a nuclear power plant reporter Kimberly Wells and her crew witness a near catastrophe which her cameraman secretly films. When they get back to the station and want to broadcast the story they hit a wall of resistance from both the network and the plant. During further investigation Kimberley discovers how much peril they, and the state of California, were in coming close to “the China Syndrome” and the fact that the issue has not been repaired and the threat remains. Incredibly timely on release, while this was playing in theatres the Three Mile Island accident occurred in Pennsylvania turning the film into a monster hit.

    June Bride (1948)-Carey Johnson (Robert Montgomery), a combat journalist just back from assignment is forced to take a job covering a June wedding for a bridal magazine run by Linda Gilman (Bette Davis), the fiancée he jilted, much to her displeasure. Off they travel to Indiana, with the rest of the crew, in the dead of winter for the “June” shoot. When they arrive Carey immediately starts looking for an angle to his story causing trouble for all involved but most of all for himself. Slight but breezy comedy with a great supporting cast including Mary Wickes, Fay Bainter and Tom Tully. Keep an eye out during the wedding scene and you can spot Debbie Reynolds in a wordless bit, her screen debut.

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  8. I meant to mention that I love the shout out to His Girl Friday! Such a fantastic movie and Rosalind Russell is so perfect in it. Looking back on it now it seems as if it would have been conceived with her in mind so it's crazy how many actresses were offered it first and that she only caught it out of Hawks's desperation as the start date neared. Any of the other actresses offered the part would have been swell but perhaps not as distinctly suited to it as Roz and since the one two punch of The Women and this put her on top at last it all turned out for the best.

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  9. Wow, could you pick 3 more different movies if you tried? Loving the diversity!

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  10. Never Been Kissed was cute, although Barrymore and Arquette were too old to play high school students.

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    1. True, but most of the high school cast does too so I just go with it. The Hollywood film that uses actual teenagers to play high schoolers is a rare, rare beast.

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  11. I have seen all 3 films. Never Been Kissed is a film one can watch over and over, sweet without too much thought. The Ring scared the living bejeebies out of me! I still get freaked if I see snow on a TV screen and the creepy crawly kid just freaks me out. I also picked Good Night because i felt it is such a great film and yes, David Strathairn deserved an oscar

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    1. The one recurring nightmare I've ever had in my life involved a TV turning on by itself and not turning off, so THAT scene in The Ring made me curl into the fetal position in the theater. But I couldn't tear my eyes away from the screen because I was so involved. Great stuff in that one.

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  12. NEVER BEEN KISSED!!!!!

    Love that. I had totally forgotten about that one. Also love that you mentioned The Ring. Britt mentioned that one too. Great call!

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  13. Never Been Kissed, good to see I wasn't the only person to choose that one.

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  14. If I was a braver man, I would've picked Never Been Kissed myself. Trust me. I thought about it. Love that movie. So much fun.

    I saw The Ring once. It was pretty good. Probably the best of its kind, but I just don't like that kind of movie. I even forgot she was a journalist.

    Good Night, and Good Luck....dude!

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  15. The Ring - I don't remember she was a journalist as well.
    Really enjoyed your other two picks too.

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