When was our he said-he said corrosive political commentary culture born? In The Best Of Enemies, music historian and filmmaker Robert Gordon (author of a Muddy Waters biography and Stax Records history) and director Morgan Neville (20 Feet From Stardom) makes the case that the Republicans-shouting- at-Democrats (and vice versa) substitute for discourse we're so saddled now dates back to 1968.
That's when ABC News, in a distant third place in ratings behind CBS and NBC, decided to to roll the dice and air nightly debates between right wing National Review editor and William F. Buckley and left wing Myra Breckinridge-author Gore Vidal rather than provide the traditional gavel-to-gavel convention coverage.
The resulting mano a mano battles, hosted by anchor Howard K. Smith, were a surprise success, in part because both Vidal and Buckley were such sophisticated and witty public intellectuals and because - as sports announcer to say about rival teams - they really didn't like each other. It went beyond personal antipathy, in fact. And Gordon and Neville (both Penn grads) show, both Buckey and Vidal felt that the other's views were dangerous, and a threat to the republic.
All that makes The Best of Enemies an insightful look back on a heightened moment in American history when the country appeared to be coming apart at the seams, and at a time when the red state-blue state divide and our ongoing identity politics culture war was first taking shape. And because both antagonists are so quick on the feet, it's also a often a laugh-riot about a serious subject. The movie is scheduled to open in theaters in August.
Sneakerheadz is a similarly entertaining documentary. David T. Friendly and Mick Hucknall's film is a fast paced, enlightening and pop cuturally insightful look into the world of obsessive senaker collecting.