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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

March 23, 2010 at 11:08 AM

“Broadcast News,” and James L. Brooks’ new movie

Funny how things sometimes converge. Yesterday, on my day off, I was flipping channels and ended up watching nearly all of “Broadcast News” on cable; it’s a movie that I remember fondly, for the grown-up, witty repartee between its characters, for its vivid depiction of the workplace, and for Joan Cusack’s wonderful slapstick scene in which she races wildly to get a tape into the hands of a technician before the TV screen goes blank. (By the way, just looking at Cusack’s hair and outfits in this movie will take you back to the ’80s — far better, I suspect, than any hot tub time machine.) And I love Holly Hunter — who’s mostly abandoned movies for TV these days, alas — and her depiction of a work-obsessed smartie with a heart. “It must be wonderful to always be the smartest person in the room,” an executive tells her, sarcastically and witheringly. She answers, automatically, in all seriousness: “No. It’s awful.”
And now I read in the New York Times that Brooks (who’s now pushing 70) is in the editing room with a new movie, and it’s that rarity: a grown-up romance, starring Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd and Jack Nicholson (a Brooks regular who has a wonderfully understated cameo in “Broadcast News”). Due in theaters in December, the new film (which has a working title of “How Do You Know”) is described as “a complicated, original story about people who might be funny enough, in their own troubled way, to remind Hollywood that it is O.K., occasionally, to buck the trends.” Which means that Columbia, its studio, is nervous about how to promote it; there’s no poster yet, and no trailer. Witherspoon’s and Wilson’s characters are star athletes, and the movie may be slipped into the sports-romantic-comedy category, but it sounds resistant to classification. Brooks has misfired in his last two movies — “Spanglish,” in particular, was disappointingly lifeless, and “I’ll Do Anything,” a musical mysteriously stripped of its musical numbers before release, a flop. But watching “Broadcast News” reminded me of what he’s capable of — and what we don’t see at the movies very often. I’m looking forward to it.

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