Archive for December 26th, 2017


By J.D. Lafrance

Oliver Stone’s film, Nixon (1995) portrays the American political process as an unpredictable system that politicians have no hope of ever fully controlling. The best they can do is keep it in check most of the time. This theory can be seen in its embryonic stage in JFK (1991) with President John F. Kennedy being assassinated by shadowy forces within the political system, but it was not until Nixon that Stone was able to fully articulate it. As film critic Gavin Smith observed, “Nixon is a historical drama about the constructing and recording of history, assembled as we watch.” Stone has created a unique version of the historical biopic that combines fact and speculation with a cinematic style that blends various film stocks in a seamlessly layered, complex narrative. This fractured, overtly stylized approach draws attention to the fact that we are watching a film. As Stone has said in an interview, “I don’t pretend that it is reality.” This, in turn, allows him to deliver his message with absolute clarity.

Like Citizen Kane (1941) before it, Nixon traces the dramatic rise and fall of a historical figure who tried so hard to be loved by all but ended up being infamous and misunderstood. While Orson Welles’ film was a thinly-veiled attack on newspaper tycoon, William Randolph Hearst, Stone paints an almost sympathetic portrayal of Richard Nixon (Anthony Hopkins). Stone may not like Nixon personally, but he does try to explore what motivated the man’s actions and really get inside his head. The director even throws in a stylistic nod to Kane as part of the opening credits play over a shot of a dark and stormy night at the White House. The camera moves through the fence in a way that evokes the opening of Welles’ film with Kane’s imposing estate. And like Welles’ film, Nixon employs a flashback device as Nixon listens to the Watergate tapes and reflects on his life, from his tough childhood in Whittier, California, to his beleaguered political career that culminates with his tumultuous stint in the White House.

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Jean-Pierre Leaud in title role of French minimalist masterpiece “The Death of Louis XIV” (La Mort de Louis XIV), one fo the best films of 2017.

by Sam Juliano

Christmas Day 2017 is in the record books.  In the northeast it was a blustery cold day, dipping in the 20’s later in the night, though these chilling numbers will continue the rest of the west, dropping down even further.  We trust all our friends and readers had a special day and will have a great off week leading up till New Year’s Day.  This is that in-between week many of us wow to get so much done during, but too often not enough is negotiated.  My own family as per Christmas tradition spent the day at my young brother Paul and sister-in-law Rita’s (and their two girls) home in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.  Also as per tradition, we saw a film on Christmas night, catching the 8:00 P.M. showing of All the Money in the World at a local multiplex.  We broke tradition on Christmas Eve by venturing out to see a movie as well, Downsizing in Teaneck.

The Caldecott Medal Contender series continues, and is expected to run until around February 10th, meaning at least 12 to 14 more reviews on the top of the 20 published so far.  Jim Clark’s stupenous and candid review of Blade Runner 2049 posted this past week. The Greatest Television series Countdown -Part 2-  resumes on February 14th.

Year end movie going continues with theatrical screenings of “Downsizing” and “All the Money in the World” and blu ray and DVD screenings of “The Death of Louis XIV” (masterpiece!!!) and Lady Macbeth.” (more…)

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