Buck­ley, Vi­dal documentary to air on PBS

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - MOVIE LISTINGS - By John Bei­fuss

Ar­riv­ing in timely fash­ion, dur­ing the home stretch of a par­tic­u­larly con­tentious pres­i­den­tial con­test, the ac­claimed documentary “Best of En­e­mies” makes its free TV de­but this week on the PBS “In­de­pen­dent Lens” an­thol­ogy se­ries.

Co-di­rected and co­pro­duced by Mem­phis author and film­maker Robert Gor­don, the film ex­am­ines the in­fa­mous (and en­ter­tain­ing) 1968 tele­vi­sion de­bates between pub­lic in­tel­lec­tu­als Gore Vi­dal — a gay lib­eral athe­ist — and Wil­liam F. Buck­ley Jr. — a straight con­ser­va­tive Catholic — that were broad­cast by ABC as part of the network’s pres­i­den­tial con­ven­tion cov­er­age.

Co-di­rected by Os­car­win­ner Mor­gan Neville (“20 Feet from Star­dom”) and partly i nspired by the re­search of Mem­phis author and con­sult­ing pro­ducer Tom Graves, the movie presents the Buck­ley-vi­dal clash as a highly ar­tic­u­late pre­view of the “cul­ture wars” and “iden­tity pol­i­tics” that mo­ti­vate much cur­rent po­lit­i­cal dis­course. The movie de­buted at the 2015 Sun­dance Film Fes­ti­val and later that year en­joyed a suc­cess­ful theatri­cal run that in­cluded a book­ing at the Malco Ridge­way Cinema Grill.

Gor­don said PBS is “over-the-top ex­cited” about “Best of En­e­mies.” He said the film so far has been set for 1,320 air dates on 555 pub­lic tele­vi­sion chan­nels.

In most mar­kets, the film’s de­but air­date will be in prime time Mon­day on the pri­mary PBS af­fil­i­ate.

“I’m very pleased that so many of the ma­jor sta­tions across the coun­try, in cities large and small, are air­ing us in prime time be­cause of the show’s con­tem­po­rary rel­e­vance,” Gor­don said.

In Mem­phis, how­ever, “In­de­pen­dent Lens” is de­layed be­cause of its some­times provoca­tive or con­tro­ver­sial content. Thus, the air­dates for “Best of En­e­mies” are some­what con­fus­ing.

The film doesn’t show up here dur­ing prime time un­til two nights af­ter its na­tional de­but, and even then it’s on the se­condary chan­nel.

“Best of En­e­mies” screens at 8 p.m. Wed­nes­day on WKNO2 (Chan­nel 910 on Com­cast, and 10.2 on dig­i­tal TV). Night owls can catch it 17 hours ear­lier, at 3 a.m. Wed­nes­day, on the orig­i­nal WKNO, Chan­nel 10.

It also screens at mid­night and 8 a.m. Thurs­day and at 9 p.m. Sun­day, Oct. 9, on WKNO2, and at 2 a.m. Sun­day, Oct. 9, on WKNO.

“Best of En­e­mies” also screens at 1 p.m. Fri­day, Oct. 14, at the Mem­phis Brooks Mu­seum of Art.

The movie is part of the mu­seum’s new Fri­day “bar­gain mati­nee” se­ries: Ad­mis­sion is only $5.

Fall has just started, but there’s still one more su­per­hero flick sneak­ing in just be­fore the summer heat van­ishes com­pletely. But if you want mus­cled tor­sos and capes, you’ll be sadly dis­ap­pointed.

Af­ter a steady stream this year of Bat­man, Su­per­man, Cap­tain Amer­ica, X-men and even Teenage Mu­tant Ninja Tur­tles, it’s time now for a group of kids who float, are in­vis­i­ble, who spark fire, ma­nip­u­late plants, con­trol bees and give life to inan­i­mate ob­jects.

Not re­ally X-men ex­actly. Call them X-tweens.

They’re the un­likely young heroes and hero­ines of “Miss Pere­grine’s Home for Pe­cu­liar Chil­dren,” the Tim Bur­ton-di­rected 3-D film loosely based on the novel of the same name by Ran­som Riggs.

Sweet, with some mind­blow­ing vis­ual ef­fects, it’s the per­fect film for your young dis­af­fected mu­tant friends.

Asa But­ter­field (Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo”) plays a young adult who stum­bles upon a secret refuge for su­per­nat­u­rally gifted young­sters hid­ing in a time loop in 1943. Our hero be­friends the mys­te­ri­ous school­marm Miss Pere­grine (a de­li­cious Eva Green, chan­nel­ing a sexy Mary Pop­pins by way of He­lena Bon­ham Carter) and learns that the chil­dren are in danger from ever-growing malev­o­lent forces.

Bur­ton is a nat­u­ral choice to direct: The ma­te­rial al­ready has that gloomy, Vic­to­rian vibe, a styl­ized dream­like qual­ity, and a sort of Goth-punk look, which is cat­nip to the direc­tor of “Ed­ward Scis­sorhands.” He also fa­mously adores mis­fits; here, the screen is filled with them.

No sur­prise the job of turn­ing the book into a film was handed to Jane Gold­man, who is fa­mil­iar with both mu­tants and the 1940s, hav­ing been the screen­writer for “X-men: First Class.”

A some­what pon­der­ous first half leads to a hard-charg­ing sec­ond, filled with in­ge­nious fight­scenes, glo­ri­ous ocean lin­ers and sub­lime un­der­wa­ter mo­ments.

The film should come with a Harry Pot­ter-like warn­ing for those al­ler­gic to new whim­si­cal vo­cab­u­lary terms like “ym­brines,” “Hol­lows” and “hol­low­gasts.”

But go with it. Your head will be in pain soon enough try­ing to make sense of the in­creas­ingly elab­o­rate rules of time­travel and body shift­ing.

The pe­cu­liar chil­dren of the film’s ti­tle are cer­tainly unique, but you can find plenty of other films in the DNA of “Miss Pere­grine’s Home for Pe­cu­liar Chil­dren,” par­tic­u­larly skele­ton sol­diers from “Ja­son and the Arg­onauts,” the XMen fran­chise for mak­ing freaks lov­able, “Ground­hog Day” and even the un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated Hay­den Chris­tensen film “Jumper,” which also has time-shift­ing at its core and the same sort of evil force in Samuel L. Jackson.

Hyper-styl­ized films like Bur­ton’s usually cre­ate stiff per­for­mances, but Ter­ence Stamp is grounded as a know­ing grand­fa­ther, and Chris O’dowd is per­fectly oafish as a clue­less dad.

So stretch your def­i­ni­tion of heroes to in­clude, say, a cute lit­tle girl with ra­zor-sharp teeth on the back of her head. “Miss Pere­grine’s Home for

COUR­TESY OF MAG­NO­LIA PIC­TURES

As seen in the film “Best of En­e­mies,” Wil­liam F. Buck­ley Jr. (left) lost his cool while de­bat­ing Gore Vi­dal on 1968 network tele­vi­sion.

JAY MAID­MENT/20TH CEN­TURY FOX

Lau­ren Mccrostie (left), Pixie Davies, Cameron King, Thomas and Joseph Od­well and Ella Pur­nell ap­pear in a scene from, “Miss Pere­grine’s Home for Pe­cu­liar Chil­dren”.

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