Saturday, April 30, 2016

Film Pairings — Primers: Something to Watch Before The Primaries

Gore Vidal
This is a political posting. I’ve committed the blog to primarily talk about crime books and crime films. I see no real distinction between crime and the politics practiced today, perhaps the way they have been practiced all along.  The Citizens United Decision legalized the bribery that has been going on since the Union was founded.  Our presidential nominees lie to us constantly.  This year we have one probable nominee who boasts of buying politicians and promises he will do whatever is necessary to achieve his goals. He’s at least telling us he will screw us over. Another suggests he would replace the Constitution with The Bible.  Still another receives tons of money from Wall Street while promising she will come down hard on those evil bankers.  When will we learn? Here are a couple of reminders as we approach the last days of the primaries.

 The United States of Amnesia — Ostensibly a film biography of writer Gore Vidal, we are exposed to an insider’s insights into the political machine.  We are spared details of his emotional entanglements largely because he spared himself.  Instead we have informed and passionate political thought on our country from someone deeply disappointed in it.  He was an idealist scorned.  Scrapbook photographs, television footage and interviews wrap up a life of a writer whose best works were essays, or at least commentary, on how well the U.S. does when judged by its stated most cherished values.  We don’t do well.  The oil wars.  The rich on welfare while the poor go bankrupt paying for medical emergency. The fiction of Camelot. Bush-Cheney and the stolen presidency.

The film was directed by Nicholas D. Wrathall and released in 2013.In addition to Vidal, Christopher Hitchens, Tim Robbins, Mikhail Gorbachev, Sting, David Mamet, William F. Buckley and Norman Mailer, and Dick Cavett are also in the documentary

Christian Bale
The Big Short — We know the story, sort of. And it’s the “sort of” that is the problem.  It’s banking, accounting. The director of the movie let’s you know up front, your eyes might glaze over as the story unfolds.  The truth is this complicated sub-prime problem that nearly destroyed the U.S. and world economies is damned hard to follow, so hard in fact that the fraud perpetrators not only walked free, they received bonuses as the victims families were thrown out of their homes. No one went to jail.  The Big Short admirably tells a complex tale exposing greed until, at last, the sole principled player takes the payoff.

Last year’s critical success was directed by Adam McKay based on the book by Michael Lewis. Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt flesh out a solid cast.

Both of these films are not mainstream in their approaches to the subjects. However, they do ask us to evaluate our participation in the established system. You be the judge on the level of corruption and how they might affect your vote in the primaries and in November.

To provide libations for the evening, it seems we might rely on the good old USA.  Maybe we should find a beer from a microbrewery not owned by a major corporation or a little carton of Bernie and Jerry’s ice cream.  Sorry, make that Ben and Jerry’s. Cherry Garcia Fro Yo is my addiction.

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