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