Thursday, June 18, 2015

AFI Docs 2015 - Best of Enemies

AFI Docs 2015 started out strong on opening night with the historical documentary Best of Enemies, about the 1968 televised debates between arch enemies William F. Buckley, Jr. and Gore Vidal.

The film was perfectly-crafted. It was riveting, funny, tense, sad, and above all, poignant. Having been born in the 80s, I was not alive during the debates and so I went in knowing very little about them, or even about either of the debaters, though I was ever so slightly more familiar with Vidal than with Buckley. But the film did a great job of giving viewers a background into who both of them were, what was going on in the larger context of politics/the US at the time, and how these debates, despite living up to a higher standard of intellect than current pundit television, were pretty much the starting point on the path to the terrible, divisive pundit television we have now.

I will also say that it was some of the best editing I have seen in a long time. It was very well-paced. Nothing felt too long or like they skipped anything important. Honestly, it set the bar so high for the pacing of a film that it has made me hyper-aware of the pacing flaws, however minor, in almost all of the other films I've seen at the festival.

And while I'm not actually the most fond of the theater at the Newseum (if you get stuck under the balconies in certain spots, the balconies actually block parts of the screen! Who designed that?!), in this case, I don't think a more perfect venue exists for the subject matter, being a story about both politics and journalism.

No comments: