It does not sit well with me when movies, whose stories are fictional but are set in the real world in modern times, include genuine, often dramatic news footage. These are put in for sake of adding a sense of actuality, that gripping "this could be happening now" effect to film. My problem is that it simply feels exploitative?
For example: A friend of mine and I watched "Oldboy" some time ago. The movie, a psychological thriller from 2003, revolves around a man who's kidnapped and held fifteen years captive in what appears to be a hotel room. During his attemped break-out sequence, the screen is vertically split in half. The left field shows the protag slowly digging through a wall as the years pass. Simultaneously the right hand side plays a montage of events that really did happen in the years 1988-2003: I remember seeing newspaper headlines of Princess Diana's death, a plane striking one of the WTC towes, and miscellaneous war footage that I could not place. None of those topics were mentioned again.
Now, I understand why the filmmakers chose to include this. The montage does illustrate what can happen in such a long span of time--it's relevant to the plot that the protag's only insight into the outside world is whatever he sees on TV--alongside, of course, plain old shocking the viewers by invoking real, contemporary horrors. But I just can't agree that including such footage was okay. I would have respected the filmmakers more if they had not resorted to such. They reduced powerful real world tragedies quite distastefully.
Besides, in a twist of irony, in having shown that montage in its first part, the rest of the movie's torture scenes were sort of undermined because their shock value had already been challenged.
This post might beget an interesting question: Do you believe that some footage should be reserved for strictly documentary purposes? Or is your viewpoint rather that creators should exercise the freedom to make use of such content on artistic grounds? I'd love to hear what you people think.