Ellison & Penley: Episode 3

Ellison: I'm Estefan Ellison.
Penley: And I'm Will Penley.
Ellison: Welcome to Ellison & Penley. Let's start the discussion off with George Clooney's Oscar nominated film, Good Night and Good Luck. Taking place during the 1950's during the McCarthy witch hunt, David Straithairn plays Edward R. Murrow, the famous CBS newsman who decided to go against McCarthy's ideas and do what he liked. Straithairn gives a great performance as Murrow, a man who doesn't sweat under pressure. George Clooney is able to recreate the fifties very well and he also co-wrote a wonderful screenplay. I give Good Night and Good Luck a thumbs up.
Penley: You're right, Straithairn gives a breathtaking performance as the famous newsman matched beat for beat by George Clooney as his colleague and friend, Fred Friendly. The script is well-written, the direction is spot-on and the photography is absolutely beautiful. I really loved this film and it's definitely one of the best of the past year. Thumbs up!
Ellison: A film I didn't like as much that came out recently on DVD is The Ice Harvest. John Cusack plays Charlie Arglist who on Christmas Eve stole millions of dollars from his boss. Billy Bob Thornton plays his colleague and Oliver Platt plays his drunken friend, Pete. I really wanted to like this film, but I couldn't. The book by Scott Philips was witty and a page turner, but this film version was not. I didn't see the characters at all, just the actors and Oliver Platt's drunken acting got tiresome. I'm sorry, Mr. Ramis. I have to give this film a thumbs down.
Penley: Wow, I really disagree with you on this one! I give it a big thumbs up and I'll tell you why. I found it to be a hilarious caper film (in the style of Fargo). I thought the story was great and the film was perfectly casted. This is Harold Ramis' best film since 1993's Groundhog Day and if not for Waiting... it would be the best comedy of the year!
Ellison: I felt it was a poor man's Fargo. I think it would have been much better if it was directed by the Coen Brothers.
Penley: Well, most things are better when directed by the Coen Brothers.
Ellison: And Quentin Tarantino and Stanley Kubrick and the list goes on and on.
Penley: The next film on the show is Curtis Hanson's multi-Oscar-nominated crime-thriller, L.A. Confidential. After a shooting in an all-night diner, three very different detectives try to get to the bottom of the matter. Celebrity detective Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey in yet another fantastic performance) is working closely with tabloid reporter Sid Hudgens (Danny DeVito). The sometimes violent Officer Bud White (Russell Crowe) thinks he may have a break in the case when he learns of Pierce Patchett (David Strathairn), a rich developer running a group of prostitutes who are dead ringers for famous movie stars. White also forms a relationship with Lynn Bracken (Kim Basinger), Patchett's Veronica Lake. The third detective is Detective Lieutenant Ed Exley (Guy Pearce), a do-gooder cop who isn't afraid to rat out his own friends to get ahead. All of this is set against the cool atmosphere of '50s Los Angeles, where crime is running wild. I thought this was a masterful work. Curtis Hanson has competently directed this masterpiece and the result is phenomenal. All of the principals turn in outstanding performances and Kim Basinger even won an Oscar for her work. This is one of the best films of the '90s and in general. Big thumbs up!
Ellison: I agree. I also want to point out the brilliant screenplay by Hanson and Brian Helgeland. I especially think that James Cromwell deserved a nomination for playing the police chief of the LAPD. Thumbs up!
Penley: The final film on today's show is a comedy I've been hugely fond of since its theatrical release, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy! Comedian Will Ferrell is back and better than ever as San Diego's top-rated newsman, Ron Burgundy, who is absolutely freaking out when diversity sweeps into the newsroom in the form of beautiful reporter Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate). I know a lot of people are going to disagree with me, but I give Anchorman a very big thumbs up! The script, while uneven at times, is simply hysterical and the great comedic actors involved surely know how to make the material work! Though Will Ferrell is the star of the show, it's Steve Carell that steals scenes as Brick Tamland, a weatherman with an I.Q. of less than 50 (and it shows). Anchorman is a swift, funny delight and is great entertainment for anyone looking for a laugh!
Ellison: I'm sorry, but I give this one a very low thumbs down. I understood that Will Ferrell was trying to make a parody on the chauvinists of the 1970's, but he just came off as irritating. The only parts I really laughed hard at were most of Steve Carell's lines and the fight scene between the different newsmen. You can't beat a Spanish Ben Stiller and Tim Robbins with a blonde afro.
Penley: One bit I especially liked was a cameo appearance by Jack Black as a disgruntled biker who Ron has unknowingly bombed with a burrito. I can never say the words "That's how I roll!" again without laughing.
Ellison: Yet, despite those funny moments, like you mentioned the film is uneven (especially the comedy) so I give it thumbs down. I'd recommend Broadcast News and Network instead.
Penley: And that's our show for this week. However, if there's a film you'd like to see reviewed on our show, feel free to send an e-mail to us at triclops1@hotmail.com or willpenley@gmail.com! We're looking forward to hearing your thoughts. As always, you can visit our blogs, My Film Rambles and Reel Paradise. I'm Will Penley.
Ellison: By the way, the brilliant Capote starring Philip Seymour Hoffman comes out on DVD tomorrow. If you haven't seen it, you should. I'm Estefan Ellison. Good night, folks.
Penley: And good luck!