(Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was for a lune, a haiku variant with a 5-3-5 syllable scheme, and I ended up stringing three together.)


What you see on screens
Is half of
What’s behind the scenes.

Each proud, polished face
On the news
Most fears their disgrace.

The best journalists
Never change
Truth as it exists.

MPAA rating: R (for language)

Broadcast News can be summed up in one word: professional. It’s a professionally created film about professionals. It’s also a good reminder that television news isn’t as simple as what we see, a few well-dressed anchors reading the headlines. There’s also toil and creativity and last-minute changes and sudden updates and delays and unbridled panic behind the scenes.

A love triangle forms our comprehensive tour of the news studio. Jane Craig (Holly Hunter) is an impassioned woman-on-the-edge producer and enjoys working with Aaron (Albert Brooks), whose encyclopedic knowledge and quick wit make him an ideal reporter. Then comes Tom Grunick (William Hurt) as a newly hired anchor who knows he’s unqualified but still presents well to the camera. Jane is first and foremost a career woman, but Tom attracts her even while testing her staunchly held opinions.

It’s prime acting across the board, with all three leads earning Oscar nominations, and Albert Brooks delivers some terrifically trenchant retorts. I also like how much is tested in the high-pressure news business – ethics, ambitions, competence, loyalty – and in believable, often amusing ways.

Broadcast News has plenty of strengths, but it couldn’t stick the landing. I suppose in trying to stand out from rom com clichés, the love triangle went in the one direction that leaves everyone unsatisfied. It’s an example of being unnecessarily sadder but wiser. What’s worse, as more time passes, I’ve come to realize just how forgettable the film overall is. With the exception of one funny epic fail scene, very little stands out in retrospect, which isn’t flattering for a Best Picture nominee. Broadcast News is as professional as the real TV news networks, but I’m unsure which I’d rather watch again. Probably the film; it’s less depressing.

Best line: (Aaron, to Jane) “I’ll meet you at the place near the thing where we went that time.”


Rank: Honorable Mention


© 2016 S. G. Liput

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