Sunday, April 09, 2017

Best of Enemies

(Movie Review)

Why I Saw This Movie
A co-worker of mine very highly recommended this documentary to me months ago.  I wasn't able to track a copy down in Vietnam, but when I was visiting home I used the Netflix account here to find a copy.

The Review
This is a documentary movie about the 1968 television debates between William Buckley and Gore Vidal.

This documentary won't be everyone's cup of tea, but if you're enough of a geek to be interested in this kind of stuff (someone who's either interested in history or media or the history of media) then it's fascinating.

The archival footage of the debates is entertaining in-and-of itself, but all the extra background the documentary goes into makes for a completely engaging story.

It's also fascinating to watch these debates from 50 years ago and realize how little has changed.
So many of the talking points from both the Left and the Right in 1968 sound virtually identical to the same debate we just had this past year.  It's eerie.

That, plus Buckley and Vidal's habit of "debating" by just exchanging personal attacks and largely ignoring the actual issues seems to be exactly the way most cable news shows operate nowadays.  Again, amazing how little has changed in 50 years.
(This documentary is heavily implying that the Buckley/Vidal 1968 debates helped create the current style of cable news debating.  Whether or not that's actually true, someone smarter than me will have to answer.)

10 out of 10 Stars.  (Admittedly I'm biased.  Because this kind of historical political-debate news junkie stuff is exactly the kind of stuff a history political nerd like me would eat up.  But that being said, I still enjoyed this film immensely.  So 10 out of 10 it is.)

My thoughts on Gore Vidal here.  My thoughts on William Buckley here.
Also, I'm pretty sure the Chomsky/Buckley debate, which I've linked to several times over the years (herehere and here), contains an inside joke reference to the famous Buckley-Vidal debates.  Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure the part where Buckley threatens to "smash you in the goddamn face" is Buckley jokingly referencing the time he said the same thing to Gore Vidal. (Watch video from about 9:10)

(Actually, as a sidenote, the fact that Buckley appears to have a sense of humor here about this incident is different to the impression that the viewer gets from the documentary.  A minor quibble.)

Video Review
Video review here and embedded below:

Link of the Day
Noam Chomsky 2017 in Chicago

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