And Then You Destroy Yourself: Nixon at the Movies

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Watched black dynamite on mubi, pretty good

milkshake chuk (wins), Sunday, 12 May 2019 18:29 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

When the first explanatory title of Charles Ferguson's Watergate - Or, How We Learned to Stop an Out-of-Control President had to do with re-enactments and 100% true, my heart sank--was I really sitting down to four-plus hours of re-enactments? (I read as little as possible ahead of seeing a film, and I'd read nothing on this one.) Happily, no. They appear somewhat regularly in Part 1, almost not at all in Part 2; in total, there's maybe 20 minutes' worth. They're all inside the Oval Office, most prefaced by a real audio clip from the tapes. They're kind of awful, and I'm not sure why they're there.

The rest is quite good, especially all the footage from the hearings, where you usually just get Dean, Butterfield, and maybe Mitchell; there's much more here. (Why doesn't someone release the entire hearings on DVD? I know TV networks were pretty bad at archiving stuff then, but the footage must exist somewhere.) Two biggest revelations: one, Elizabeth Holtzman, the AOC of her day every which way; two, how badly compromised Howard Baker's "What does the President know..." question was. It wasn't heroic--he was a mole for the administration, and the question was meant to get Dean to perjure himself. In all that I've read and seen on Watergate, I don't think I ever knew that.

clemenza, Monday, 17 June 2019 04:30 (one year ago) link

By the way--today is the anniversary of the break-in.

clemenza, Monday, 17 June 2019 18:15 (one year ago) link

nine months pass...

Surprise, surprise, I liked Our Nixon. It basically follows the standard timeline, from inauguration through to the resignation of Haldeman and Enrlichman, but it moves along casually, and it never feels like events are being ticked off a checklist. Nixon doesn't fulminate much--there are phone calls with Haldeman where he sounds bemused by events, and even one, after a Vietnam television address, where he sounds stoical. (And another, right after Haldeman's resignation, where he's almost certainly been drinking.) The one time he really gets going, on All in the Family and Greek philosophers, is something. There's a bit with the Ray Conniff Singers that moves from a funny introduction by Nixon--no lie--to a fairly stunning moment that I don't recall ever reading about. The highlight for me was a brilliant choice for the opening-credit music. It's not just a great song (not period music), it lays out the entire film in a way that makes perfect sense.

― clemenza, Monday, May 6, 2013 9:26 AM (six years ago)

Our Nixon has been made free on Vimeo for pandemic quarantine.

Dollarmite Is My Name (sic), Wednesday, 18 March 2020 18:28 (four months ago) link


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