JAMES L. BROOKS
Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
USA, 1987. Amercent Films, American Entertainment Partners L.P., Gracie Films. Screenplay by James L. Brooks. Cinematography by Michael Ballhaus. Produced by James L. Brooks. Music by Bill Conti. Production Design by Charles Rosen. Costume Design by Molly Maginnis. Film Editing by Richard Marks. Podcast: My Criterions.
A picture-perfect but intellectually slight anchorman (William Hurt), a brilliant but awkward journalist (Albert Brooks) and a sharp news producer (Holly Hunter) are the three main characters of this terrific look into the world of television news.
Set in Washington, the first half of the film beautifully details the many crazy hours spent perfecting the latest news item and the personal crises that go on behind the scenes. Meanwhile, Hunter is having an affair with Hurt while Brooks looks on with envy.
The second half gets a bit too obsessed with the romance angle, but the film never loses its edge and the moral conundrum that occurs in the third act is excellent; unfortunately, the ending feels like a rip-off.
Still, the film did introduce audiences to Hunter as a star (though it’s a promise she didn’t fulfill until The Piano six years later) and she really steals the show the whole way. As with all of Brooks’ films, the characters are fully three-dimensional and the dialogue top-notch.
The Criterion Collection: #551
Berlin Film Festival Award: Best Actress (Holly Hunter)
Boston Film Critics Awards 1987.