What One Learns from Politicos Who Watch Movies. . .

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being_there.jpgI like a lot of movies, but my bar for “like” is probably pretty low. I could probably make a long list of films I liked if I had a long list to choose from, but off the top of my head, some of my favorites include Henry and June, Chariots of Fire, Milk, Jaws, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Juno, Into the Wild, Gladiator, Clockwork Orange, Dr. Strangelove, Slumdog Millionaire, Being John Malkovich, Home at the End of the World, Amelie, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, My Dinner with Andre, The Dark Knight, War Child, All the King’s Men, Casablanca, Rising Sun (as I was in it — and spoke), Kinsey, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. I think that like Andrew Sullivan though, one of my all time favorites was Team America, World Police.
I actually won a baby grand piano at Team America because I signed up for the Regal Cinema popcorn club — which also turned out to be a sweepstakes that I didn’t know about. (%&#@ yeah! Inside joke)
The films I like are probably pretty conventional with an odd twist here and there. But this list probably says something about me, though I’ll leave that to others to interpret.
For some time, I have been hanging out with a number of other movie hounds whose personal interests and foibles are probably recognizable in the films they most like.
Every couple of months, Margaret Carlson, Washington editor-at-large of The Week magazine and regular Bloomberg political columnist, hosts a dinner and movie event under the banner of The Week with Phillips Collection Chairman and former AOL Chief Counsel George Vradenburg.
These are great events. They bring a very nice mix of Washington insider types to a movie event where the topics of the evening are really focused on the great art on the walls, the personalities who were asked to pick the film of the night, and the quirkiness or profundity of the film itself. I know some folks who read this blog and recoil when I admit enjoying hanging out with insider types — but not only are these events revealing for some of the personalities there but I learn a great deal about what is happening in Obama Land, in Congress, the Pentagon and DC in general by going and mixing.
This last week, iconic CBS journalist and presidential debate host Bob Schieffer was honorary host for the evening and picked the movie Being There.
Scieffer said that he had seen the film every three years or so since it originally came out in 1979. Originally, he saw it as “satire” and now saw Being There as more “documentary”. Schieffer said that he saw the film as a “perfect example of when we all get carried away in Washington, when we see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear. . .”
I think that Schieffer’s movie pick was pretty brave — and I watched it in the Phillips Collection theater sitting next to Senator Lindsey Graham.
Lindsey Graham had his movie night a couple of years ago at the Motion Picture Association of America theater — and his selection was Seven Days in May which despite pretty Medieval depiction of women was a very provocative film at the time. In fact, in his opening testimonial about the film, Senator Graham said that today like in the 1950s, we needed to beware the “demogogery of military leaders and national security experts” who would take America in directions it should not go. I was on my feet (in my mind) giving Graham a standing ovation for that introduction.
Other of these movie night honorary hosts were Representative Jane Harman and Senator Susan Collins who picked Thelma and Louise; Chris Matthews — who was surprisingly deeply moved by Renoir’s “Boating Party” at the Phillips — picked Dave. Matthews also made a cameo appearance in the film. Former Senator John Sununu picked Dr. Strangelove, and Senator Christopher Dodd chose A Man for All Seasons — what some say was probably the “safest” film for a public official to decide on. Congressman Ed Markey‘s favorite film selected for one of these nights was The Candidate. . .but of course it was.
Others that watched Being There with Bob Schieffer, Lindsey Graham, Margaret Carlson and me included Alan Greenspan and his wife Andrea Mitchell, Susan Rice speechwriter Warren Bass, attorney Bob Bennett, Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee, journalists John Dickerson, Doyle McManus, Matt Cooper, John Harris, Walter Pincus, Dana Milbank, Mike Allen, Margaret Warner, and others. Smith Bagley of the progressive ARCA Foundation was there as was investor Mark Ein and Julia Chang Bloch.
For those who regularly post, it would be interesting to hear what your favorite film is in the comments section.
Recently at a dinner party at DC’s well-known Cafe Milano in honor of Bloomberg’s uber-connected PR diva Judith Czelusniak, I asked each of the guests what their favorite film was, what they thought the cheesiest film was they had ever seen, and the “most perfect” film whether they liked it or not. Many said Citizen Kane to that last query. Of course.
But I’ll share those responses another time. What I will say is that Being There was a good choice for DC types — because Schieffer is right that many here “see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear.”
Look forward to your lists.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

82 comments on “What One Learns from Politicos Who Watch Movies. . .

  1. download movies 2009 says:

    Excellent idea. Now I have to go get some of the ones I’ve never seen that are listed here. Most of my favorites are listed multiple times. I have to put Dr. Strangelove, Deer Hunter, M.A.S.H., To Kill a Mockingbird, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Bridge over the River Kwai, Dr. Zhivago, and a couple whose names I can’t remember well enough, dammit, at the top of the list, knowing perfectly well I am forgetting many until reminded of them.

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  2. moviesmeter says:

    You have an impeccable taste in movies here are a few that makes my all time favorite list Passion of the Christ, Gladiator and Underworld I too have discovered online movie sites for watching my favorite film.

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  3. movies says:

    I agree. I love watching movies but i’m not quite sure how to do that anymore. I’m recently discovered a new website sharing links to all streaming sites, but still… there are so many ways of doing that today, it’s just confusing!

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  4. Cee says:

    I confess. On the evening that McQueen died I jumped in my car and went speeding down the hill from Vulcan Park.

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  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Intriquing that no one has mentioned, “Bullit”, or perhaps I missed seeing it.
    The chase scene always invokes kudos. But the real genious to the chase scene, that I don’t think I have ever seen mentioned, is the sound effects. One could be totally blind, and still get an adrenalin rush by just listening to the chase scene. Anyone that has shoved a sixties muscle car down the road knows exactly what I’m talking about. The sound effects of the double clutching, and the power shifting, were perfectly done. I have to believe McQueen’s real life auto racing experience contributed the realism.

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  6. Cee says:

    Farmer,
    My husband said American citizens might become like those in Escape from New York if we can’t control the banksters.
    POA,
    I enjoy Mel Brooks too. My favorite was Young Frankenstein.
    I also forgot to mention Woody Allen flicks… Hannah and Her Sisters, Small Time Crooks and Rado Days are some that come to mind.
    MovieBuff,
    I crank up The Mission soundtrack on a regular basis.

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  7. Farmer bruce says:

    This comment thread is probably dying out, but I just came across it now.
    Had anyone else mentioned it I’d have left it at that but the most appropriate depiction of our current condition as bewildered Americans would be as the townsfolk of Largo in my all time favorite film, High Plains Drifter.

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  8. Cee says:

    Seven Days in May
    It is not entirely inconceivable that Obama’s powerful enemies could coalesce into a kind of “Seven Days in May” moment, the novel and movie about an incipient coup aimed at a President who was perceived as going too far against the country’s political-military power structure.
    Far more likely, however, Obama’s fate could parallel Jimmy Carter’s, a President whose reelection bid in 1980 was opposed by a phalanx of powerful enemies at home and abroad, including disgruntled CIA officers, angry Cold Warriors, and young neoconservatives allied with Israel’s right-wing Likud leaders furious over Carter’s Middle East peace initiatives.
    Carter little understood the breadth, depth and clout of the opposition he faced – and the full story of how his presidency was sabotaged has never been told. [For the most detailed account, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege.]
    http://www.consortiumnews.com/2009/022009.html

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  9. Cee says:

    David,
    The Thing is also a good one.
    I remember running in fear to the couch when I heard the music from the Twilight Zone.
    I now have all of the Twilight Zone episodes.
    Another good sci-fi movie was Soylent Green.

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  10. Mike Milton says:

    try watching Being There and W as a double feature. Fact mimics
    fiction in a chilling way

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  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    When I lived in Coeur d’Alene Idaho, the mining towns nearby, Kellogg and Wallace had open prostitution. The gals were probably mob, as they were rotated through the Nevada gambling towns on a circuit, so that they did not get too cozy in one spot. But it was all very above board, regular doctors care for the girls, law enforcement turning a blind eye, madams belonging to the local churches, etc. The “Luxette”, one of the houses, was right on one of the mainstreets.
    Then Hollywood came to town. They moved into the Wallace area to shoot “Heaven’s Gate”, drawing on a lot of the locals for extras. One tends to think that the hollywood crowd is extremely liberal, but inexplicably, that movie sounded the death knell for organized and clean prostitution in Wallace. The rumour was that one of the moguls connected to “Heaven’s Gate” complained to powerful connections in Washington.
    I tend to think it was more due to the closure of the Bunker Hill mine, but you can bet a lot of the miners that still had jobs in the smaller mines weren’t too happy with the “Heaven’s Gate” people, particularly after the bars closed on Friday nights. I gotta imnagine they were hoping the movie would be a box office flop. And lo and behold, it was.

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  12. David says:

    Excellent idea. Now I have to go get some of the ones I’ve never seen that are listed here. Most of my favorites are listed multiple times. I have to put Dr. Strangelove, Deer Hunter, M.A.S.H., To Kill a Mockingbird, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Bridge over the River Kwai, Dr. Zhivago, and a couple whose names I can’t remember well enough, dammit, at the top of the list, knowing perfectly well I am forgetting many until reminded of them.
    In my youth, I was most frightened by The Thing, most affected by The Wizard of Oz (drive in when I was 8 or so), and most fascinated in high school by Gone with the Wind. Burt Lancaster as The Swimmer and Peter Ustinov’s Billy Budd, with Terence Stamp as Billy, both remain firmly in my memory.
    The woman singing at the end of Matewan is, for me, the most memorable moment of music ever in a movie.

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  13. pauline says:

    A couple more from my list —
    Night of the Living Dead (1968) I watched my parents’ scary VHS copy more than once during high school years
    Winter Kills (1979) I found it at my favorite library sometime after 9/11

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  14. WigWag says:

    One other great movie that I don’t think anyone has mentioned is the silent 1928 version of “La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc”
    The film is quite vivid and beautifully shot. It is available on netflix.

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  15. Stormy says:

    Being there has been my favorite movie since 1979
    Chocolat
    Lost in Translation
    The out of Towner’s
    The Apt
    Nine and a half weeks
    Slender in the grass
    Breakfast at Tiffany’s

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  16. Noam Sane says:

    Ian McKellan’s “Henry III” from 1995 sets the Shakespeare drama in WWII-era Britain. I found it to be very well acted and thrilling from beginning to end.
    Another fantastic war movie is Renoir’s “Grand Illusion.”
    Kubrick’s “Paths of Glory” remains his deepest, most beautifully disturbing film.

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  17. Tom T says:

    … oh and one other great Japanese movie that needs to be included:
    Twilight Samurai. GREAT movie!

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  18. Tom T says:

    Steve, being a fan of things Japanese that you are perhaps you are aware of the animated film “Princess Mononoke”. Although some might dismiss this as a “cartoon”, I have watched it many many times and see many political, spiritual and environmental themes that are very applicable to the state of the world and politics today.
    Few other notable movies: Crimes and Misdemeanors, Blade Runner, The Crow, Nausica of the Valley of the Wind.
    Great post. Movie lovers unite!!

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  19. MovieBuff says:

    Among my personal favorites are The Mission, The General (yep–the Buster Keaton silent), The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Glory, Casablanca, Blazing Saddles, A Day at the Races (favorite Marx brothers flick), Charade, the original Star Wars and Raiders, Miracle in Milan, Night on Earth, and The Road to Wellville.

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  20. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I am trying to remember the first film I ever saw. The farthest back my mind can seem to reach is “El Cid”. I saw “King of Kings” as well. Both movies were released in ’61. Nina just reminded me about “The Vikings”, which I know I saw, but can’t remember anything about. That was released in 1958. I was six.
    I remember laughing my ass off at “Its a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”. (1963) Laughed to the point of tears. But later, seeing the movie as an adult, I didn’t find it near as funny.
    My oldest sister took me to a Presley Movie and made a ginny of herself screaming with the rest of the girls in the theatre. I was taking guitar lessons at the time, and never took another lesson after that movie. Something about Presley just killed the urge in me to make music. Good thing too, because I’m about as musically talented as a rock.
    The fifties and sixties gave us some real garbage, too. Anyone remember the bizzarro “Bikini Beach” movies? LA Police Chief Tom Redding’s son was married to one of the featured butts in those movies, a gal by the name of Jan. She just showed skin, I don’t think she ever had a line to say. The Reddings were family friends, and I remember having a teenage crush on Jan, particularly after seeing one of the movies, and getting a glimpse of Jan’s extremely photogenic assets.
    Has anyone mentioned “Blazing Saddles”? That was a funny flick. My boss on Paramount Ranch, Dee Cooper, supplied the livestock for that movie. Another comedy western that raised substantial chuckles was “Cat Ballou”. I howled at the scene where both the horse and rider were drunk. I’ve always wondered how they managed to pull that one off. I gotta believe the horse was drugged.

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  21. rich says:

    Greg P,
    “guilty pleasure”?! No way. Repo Man is a classic. There are certain understated flicks just speak with a certain wry, unbelievable insight. If it can’t offer its own sensibility, a film’s not worth watching at all.
    others —
    Do the Right Thing
    Princess Bride
    Lord of the Rings was really well-executed
    for documentaries —
    Standing in the Shadow of MoTown
    The Trial of Henry Kissinger
    Garlic Is as Good as Ten Mothers
    The Jell-o Lady (short)

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  22. WigWag says:

    “a few other players that came up behind him that had some similarities would be paul desmond and stan getz, who both would have been influenced by him…”
    Yes, Stan Getz! Who doesn’t love “The Girl from Ipanema” I’ve had his album, Getz/Gilberto with Tom Jobim in almost every format you can think of; LP, Eight Track, Cassette, Compact Disc and now its on the IPOD I got last year for my birthday.
    Just thinking about this brings a smile to my face!

    Reply

  23. ... says:

    wigwag – interesting about that poster.. my brother sometimes stumbles on stuff like that and i will mention it to him… as for lester young, sublime is a good word to describe his playing.. a few other players that came up behind him that had some similarities would be paul desmond and stan getz, who both would have been influenced by him… i like chris potter who is one of the younger players, but very different style.. i saw ernie watts recently, who is a very exciting tenor player who plays with charlie hadens quartets west group… do you play as well?

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  24. Cee says:

    The Garden of the Finzi-Contini’s was very good.
    This topic made me start going through my movies again.
    I’m in the process of transferring some from VHS. I can’t afford the time or the expense of saving them all. What a pain.
    Anyway…
    Days of Wine and Roses (Jack Lemmon)
    Splendor in the Grass
    Five Branded Women
    Matewan
    The House of Sand and Fog

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  25. WigWag says:

    Linda’s list of excellent movies made me think of two more which I think are must sees;
    “The Grapes of Wrath” based on the John Steinbeck novel and starring Henry Fonda.
    “The The Garden of the Finzi-Continis” which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1971.

    Reply

  26. DonS says:

    Bergman is just a wonderful, amazing, cult thing from my past too, and it is easy to become overwhelmed by power of his work. “The Seventh Seal” definitely hooked me. Too bad Paul Norheim, who I expect is travelling to/in Africa, isn’t here to wax poetic on the the dark Nordic vision. And the other qualities too!

    Reply

  27. Greg P says:

    I also really liked Team America — which is quite an intelligent satire…
    Some of the other mentioned make my list: Apocalypse Now, Pulp Fiction, etc.
    But I was *really* surprised to see that someone else shared what I’ve always considered a guilty pleasure – Repo Man… Being 38 now, I was in the right age cohort for that one at the time… and I’ve always liked the quirky eclectic soundtrack.
    There’s apparently a sequel coming from the same director:
    http://www.slashfilm.com/2008/12/04/repo-man-sequel-starts-filming-next-month/
    Be afraid. Be very afraid. 🙂

    Reply

  28. Linda says:

    Been away from the computer most of the weekend and just am catching up on this. One gets a somewhat interesting perspective living in LA among film folk for most of one’s adult life.
    So I’l start with just listing ones already mentioned,
    The Third Man (taught in every script writing class as the best opening scene ever written), Chinatown
    Treasure of Sierra Madre
    The Killing Fields
    To Kill a Mockingbird
    Everything Chaplin
    The Deer Hunter
    Most of the food films mentioned
    Olivier’s Richard the Third
    Bridge on the River Kwai
    Wigwag, while I liked “My Dinner with Andre”–that’s not film at its greatest.
    I did like the Wenders “Wings of Desire” a lot, but actually it drags and is not as visually interesting as his “Paris, Texas” that is a better film overall–incredible gorgeous cinematography.
    My favorite double bill at the Beverly Cinema revival house: “Dr. Strangelove” and “The Mouse That Roared.”
    All the 50’s great B&W comedies, especially “The Lady Killers”
    Best Bergman for me is “The Seventh Seal”–again magnificent B&W cinematography.
    BTW, everything I am mentioning is available on Netflix.
    “The Battleship Potemkin” – Silent film by Eisenstein–One LA joy was to be able to see it on a big screen with symphony orchestra music conducted by Coppola’s father. And while not among my favorites but a very good film “The Untouchables” for the big shootout with the baby carriage that is taken right from this 1925 Russian silent classic.
    “Rashomon,” but actually “The High and the Low” is my favorite Kurosawa set in modern times and really relevant in today’s economy.
    An absolutely brilliant B&W film from 1935 is Max Reinhardt’s version of “Midsummer Night’s Dream” that he first staged at the Hollywood Bowl after fleeing Germany. He has some amazing effects in it, and believe it or not, Mickey Rooney as Puck.
    And not much mention of documentaries like “Fog of War,” “The Thin Blue Line,” etc.
    And a truly amazing film, “Salt of the Earth” because of its interesting history as it was made by mostly blacklisted film folks in 1954 and is the only film ever blacklisted. It’s about plight of Mexican-American zinc miners in, I believe, New Mexico–not a great film but very interesting and ahead of its time on women’s rights and civil rights–and very much about “socialist” activity of unionizing and striking.
    And a cheer for my friend, Ed Spiegel, who is perhaps one of the last people involved in making it who is still alive. His first job out of USC film school was editing “Salt of the Earth”

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  29. pauline says:

    Here are a few I’ve watched several times with friends who have not seen. Many of my favorites have already been listed.
    Inside Man (2006) Denzel Washington
    Waterloo Bridge (1940) Vivian Leigh, Robert Taylor
    Casablanca (1942)
    A Foreign Field (1993)
    Citizen Kane (1941) I wrote a college paper on it. And my father influenced me, too.
    Shall We Dance (1937) Just because — I’m a sucker for many classic b&w’s

    Reply

  30. TonyForesta says:

    It’s almost impossible to pick and single movie; but the top ten in no specific order are:
    True Romance
    Breaking the Waves
    Pan’s Labrynth,
    Dr. Strangelove
    Children of Men
    Harold and Maud
    The Godfather
    Paradize Now
    Down by Law
    Dead Man

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  31. DonS says:

    Absolutely second to “Bagdad Cafe”. I couldn’t remember the name earlier.

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  32. WigWag says:

    “I have heard of that and I had the picture you were talking about some years ago, but not anymore.”
    …, I hate to mention it, but if you had an actual copy of the photo (as oppposed to a poster which is available everywhere for a few dollars)it would now be worth quite alot of money. Small prints of the photograph made for publicity purposes are worth two to three thousand dollars. Prints made from the original negative are now worth much more than $10 thousand. I tried to secure one once but it was way out of my price range.
    As for Lester Young; the best word to describe his playing is sublime!

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  33. mitch says:

    I like a lot of the films listed here, but I thought I’d just throw in a nod to one of my favorites, The Shawshank Redemption. It was on just this past weekend and I still couldn’t peel my eyes from the screen.
    And Lord of the Rings. The 12-hour director’s cut. 🙂

    Reply

  34. ... says:

    thanks wigwag – i have heard of that and i had the picture you were talking about some years ago, but not anymore.. i am up on jazz a fair bit as it is what i play… i really like lester youngs playing too! i gave a good friend – a piano player here on the westcoast a copy of a book on lester, which i have yet to read…

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  35. wrensis says:

    All time favorites
    Rebecca
    Harold and Maude
    Gone with the wind
    and a note to Dan Kervick
    Juliet of the Spirits did not many any sense 40 years later *smile*

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  36. johnno says:

    And don’t forget The President’s Analyst.

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  37. WigWag says:

    leo, if you liked “Stranger than Paradise” let me recommend another small and obscure movie; “Bagdad Cafe.” It’s a quirky German film about a truck stop and motel in the middle of the Mojave Desert in California. While the subject matter is different, it reminds me alot of “Stranger than Paradise.”
    Whoppi Goldberg was in a TV show for a short period of time based on the movie, but the TV show flopped.
    The movie was was well worth looking at.

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  38. nina says:

    1. Wuthering Heights, 1992 version, Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche. “Mister Heathliff, have you never loved ANYONE in your entire life?” And the haunting, bittersweet Japanese flutes, the landscapes, the architecture, the lifestyle, the howling winds … a perfect artwork.
    2. The Golden Compass
    3. The Unbearable Lightness of Being
    4. Dances with Wolves

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  39. leo says:

    I’ll second “Stranger than Paradise” Wigwag.
    Others I’ve remembered are: Berlin Alexanderplatz (which I guess was originally on TV but I saw in a theater over the period of a week), and Smiley’s People (which was on BBC).

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  40. Pacos_gal says:

    There really are too many to name all of my favorites. These are just a few of the ones that I like:
    28 Days Later
    A Fish Called Wanda
    Alien
    Apocolypse Now
    Bobby
    Bon Cop Bad Cop
    Bridge Over River Khai
    Bridget Jones Diary
    Miss Potter
    Canadian Bacon
    Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
    Casablanca
    Thin Red Line
    Enemy at the Gates
    Fargo
    Family Stone
    Fried Green Tomatones
    Good Night & Good Luck
    Gosford Park
    Kingdom of Heave
    All the Kings Men
    Lord of the Rings Trilogy
    Manchurian Cadidate (the original)
    Philadelphia
    Postman
    Pride and Prejudice
    Sense and Sensibility
    Quest for Fire
    Rainman
    Saving Private Ryan
    Resevoir Dogs
    Sunset Boulevard
    The Last King of Scotland
    M*A*S*H
    Mystic River
    The Usual Suspects
    The Boys From Brazil

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  41. Craig McKie says:

    Interesting question….
    On reflection, I pick Luc Besson’s 1994 movie, The Professional (sometimes called Leon: The Professional). There are few movies I would care to watch over and over but this is top of the list for me. Second would be Truffaut’s Shoot the Piano Player (1960), with third place going to The Third Man (1949) with Joseph Cotton and Orson Wells

    Reply

  42. susan says:

    Whisky Galore, starring Basil Radford and Joan Greenwood, is as much fun today as it was in 1949.
    “When a Scottish island falls prey to a whisky shortage, the islanders are desolate. But when by chance a ship is sunk with a cargo of 50,000 cases of whisky, they see their salvation. But first they must outwit the English Home Guard commander who is determined to protect the cargo at all costs.”

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  43. WigWag says:

    “Local Hero. So enjoyable that on a subsequent trip to Scotland we toured both widely separated filming locations.”
    Wow, does that town in Scotland by the sea shore where the movie takes place really exist? I always assumed it was just some kind of movie set.

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  44. Bart says:

    Local Hero. So enjoyable that on a subsequent trip to Scotland we toured both widely separated filming locations.

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  45. Cee says:

    A few more
    The House of Spirits
    Raise the Red Lanturn
    The Assignment

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  46. questions says:

    Alberto Express — obscure but really interesting musing on giving birth/life, debt and death. What do we OWE the people who GIVE birth to us….A funny, touching look at a really major philosophical issue.
    Coffee and Cigarettes — beautiful.
    Gaslight — it’s just great.

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  47. WigWag says:

    “I have been reading a few biographies of some well known jazz musicians lately – dizzy gillespie and thelonious monk.. it is difficult to find time for movies on top of everything else, so i tend to avoid the theatre unless my wife insists it is time to go see something!! i know how to take a hint!”
    … if you like Jazz, let me recommend an extraordinary fim called “A Great Day in Harlem.” This 1994 documentary was produced (and narrated) by Quincy Jones and was nominated for an Academy Award.
    The movie tells the story of the day in 1958 when 57 of the greatest musicians in America reunited in Harlem to have their photograph shot by the great photographer Art Kane.
    The two wonderful muscians you are reading about were both there (Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonius Monk) and so was my favorite, Lester Young. Other muscians in the photograph and featured in the documentary are: Count Bassie, Art Blakey, Art Farmer, Coleman Hawkins, Gene Krupa, Charlie Mingus, Sonny Rollins and many others.
    It is available on netflix (if you happen to be a member). If you like Jazz you will love this movie. I also suggest that you search “A Great Day in Harlem” on wikipedia to learn more about this really interesting photograph and the events leading up to it.

    Reply

  48. leo says:

    I also like some that were previously mentioned:
    Casablanca
    Philadelphia Story
    Dr. Strangelove
    The Godfather
    Blade Runner
    Local Hero
    The French Connection
    I’ll add some of my favorites:
    Grand Hotel
    Unforgiven
    Lost in Translation
    2001
    The Last Emperor
    Sleeper
    Bulworth
    Picnic at Hanging Rock
    Endless Summer
    A Passage to India
    The Departed
    and
    The Wizard of Oz

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  49. Cee says:

    Fail Safe
    Pinky
    The Godfather Trilogy
    Imitation of Life
    I Want to Live
    Missing
    The Postman Always Rings Twice
    The Verdict
    Mildred Pierce
    A Bronx Tale
    The Battle of Algiers
    Parallax View
    The Amateur
    Syriana
    Pulp Fiction (including all Tarratino movies)
    Men with Guns
    Romero
    Escape from Sobibor
    Triumph of the Spirit
    Lucky Number Slevin
    Lord of War
    The Usual Suspects
    Things to Do in Denver
    Very Bad Things
    The Last Supper (the dark comedy)
    Death Becomes Her
    Lackawana Blues
    Playing for Time
    Die Die My Darling
    All of I can think of now

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  50. WigWag says:

    “Tampopo (Japanese, noodles, Steve you must know it)”
    That’s a great food movie and it had some good erotic scenes also.
    “Wim Wenders’ “Wings of Desire” is my enduring favorite. a stately meditation of life, death, love and loss, with moments of breathtaking beauty, and Peter Falk playing himself.”
    Yes it was so much better than the remake; the footage in black and white was stunning!
    Also:
    “Oscar and Lucinda” (completely unique with great performances by Ralph Fiennes and Cate Blanchett)
    “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” (Tom Stoppard’s absurdist and highly intellectual take on the two characters from Hamlet)
    “Stranger than Paradise” (Jim Jarmusch’s first film; it’s Jarmusch’s “Odyssey” story. It’s a small film and quite quirky but well worth renting.
    Anything by John Sayles but especially: “Loan Star,” “The Secret of Roan Inish,” “City of Hope,” “Brother from Another Planet” and “Return of the Secaucus 7.”

    Reply

  51. rich says:

    Monty Python & the Hoy Grail; Life of Brian
    Fargo
    Delicatessen
    Casablanca
    Dazed and Confused
    The Big Lebowski
    Brazil
    Apocalypse Now
    To Have and Have Not
    Repo Man
    Pulp Fiction
    Down by Law
    O Brother Where Art Thou
    As carsick said upthread, the list just goes on…
    Need to have these venues in DC; still, why do I feel like it took place in a Dali painting? See Scott Horton’s latest . . ..

    Reply

  52. different susan says:

    Wim Wenders’ “Wings of Desire” is my enduring favorite. a stately meditation of life, death, love and loss, with moments of breathtaking beauty, and Peter Falk playing himself!

    Reply

  53. JamesL says:

    Kurosawa’s Dersu Uzala, for truth
    Being There, for American reality
    Kurosawa’s Dreams, for cinematic poetry
    Juzo Itami’s Tampopo, for invention and self deprecating humor
    African Queen, to define ‘classic’
    Battle of Algiers, for militaristic arrogance
    Stalingrad, for war
    A Little Romance, for budding romance
    Saving Grace, for the last scene’s description of politics
    Fried Green Tomatoes, for the bee scene
    Don Juan Demarco, for pragmatism
    Wizard of Oz, for hope
    Rashoman, for the importance of perspective
    Kandahar, and Marooned in Iraq, for the reality of militaristic adventurism
    Triumph of the Will, as a primer for modern media
    Brazil, for foresight

    Reply

  54. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Almost, forgot. What was that Streisand movie that had the buffalo on the beach scene?
    Had an animal trainer/rodeo cowboy living in the bunkhouse with me at Paramount. He owned, and had trained that buffalo. Buffalo’s name was “Cody”. The cowboy/trainer’s name was Danny Dent. He used to turn colts loose in my room as a joke way to get me out of bed.
    That buffalo was trained to ride. Longest set of reins you ever saw in your life. Saddle set way back on the buffalo’s back. When you were trying to get mounted, Cody would occassionally pinwheel, trying to hook you. But after you got on, he was pretty pleasant.
    Never saw anyone that had such a way with animals as Danny did. Trouble was, he was a hopeless alcoholic and addict. He’d been gored when he was rodeo clowning, and the docs got him addicted to pain killers. And he could drink whiskey like there was no tomorrow. And there wasn’t. He died before he made it out of his early twenties. But he packed a lot of living in before he rode off. Famous, really. One of his classics was when he loaded Cody into the back of his pick-up truck, drunk, and backed the truck up to the Quarter Horse Inn in Agoura, and attempted to unload Cody onto the small dance floor.
    Sorry. I’m rambling. What was this thread about?
    Smile people. It ain’t all politics, is it? While these slimey bastards at the head of the heap are doing their best to fry this orb, we still live our lives, still maintain our bubbles. It ain’t all that bad, is it? Sure is interesting times. I’m not sure what we’ll get to see, but something tells me its gonna be epic.

    Reply

  55. DonS says:

    More food, I can’t stop:
    ‘Tampopo’ (Japanese, noodles, Steve you must know it)

    Reply

  56. DonS says:

    A couple more for foodies on both sides of the Atlantic:
    ‘Chocolat’ (France)
    ‘Big NIght’ (Coney Island, Brighton Beach ?)
    Also, ‘Il Postino’ (1995)
    And for the neurotically inclined, of course some Woody Allen, ‘Annie Hall’, ‘Manhattan’, ‘Hannah and her sisters’ are all good.

    Reply

  57. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Apocalypse Now” was timely for me, so it was extremely easy to relate to.
    Had a girlfriend once, that told me, “You’ll love this movie”, and dragged me off to see “Looking for Mr.Goodbar”. Needless to say, the relationship was short lived. Never could figure out why she thought I would love that movie.
    “Clockwork Orange” depressed me for a week, it just seemed so, well, prescient.
    If sitting on the edge of your seat is any criteria, “The French Connection” was a good one.
    Saw “Whatever Happened To Baby Jane” when I was a kid, and when I got home the house was empty, and it was just getting dark. Locked all the doors and sat in the front room frozen, praying for ANY family member to make an entrance. Amazing how they used to be able to scare the shit out of you without feeding you half a movie of gore.
    Lived on Paramount Ranch in Agoura when Lovelace and crew rented it to shoot their second porn movie, after “Deep Throat”. Never saw either of the movies, but the cast made a hell of an impression on me.
    Used to get paid $150 a night to sleep on the set when Ricardo Montelbahn (sp?) was doing Mercury commercials. Seeing as how the bunkhouse I lived in was only three minutes walk away, I was actually making $150 a night to get up early, walk over to the set, throw down my air mattress and sleeping bag, and go back to sleep. I’m not usually larcenous, and I seem to have grown out of what bit of larceny I was prone to…but, uh…ennie meeny miney mo…sleep on the ground…sleep in my bed….whatta choice, eh? Good money back then. And the shoots usually lasted three or four days. $600 dollars cash? I realize I’m not talking “movie” here, but hey, those gotta qualify as my favorite commercials.
    Of course, Fellini’s “Pink Flamingo” was good for the gaping-jaw-leave-the-theatre-disgusted-effect. I left feeling like I had just watched a cinematic fart.
    “Reefer Madness” was the classic rent-for-a-party-movie. Particularly for a perpetually and hopelessly stoned youngster like I was.
    Of course, “Deer Hunter” was an excellent film, but it was hard not to pine for lost friends that were fed into that meat grinder Viet Nam war. Those friends that came back were mostly junkies. I’m not so sure that the lucky ones weren’t those that never came back. The war that kept giving. They’re still dying from that one. And we didn’t learn a God damned thing from it.
    (Hey Steve, did you ever get my email response?)

    Reply

  58. Dan says:

    “Oh, Lucky Man!” Lindsay Anderson’s billiant directing of Malcolm McDowell.

    Reply

  59. DonS says:

    A few more we thought good:
    ‘Strangers in good company’
    ‘Divided we fall’
    ‘King of hearts ‘ (the 1967 one!)
    ‘The Widow of St Pierre’
    ‘O brother where art thou’
    ‘Seducing dr. lewis’ (recently viewed and liked)
    ‘Mcabe and mrs. miller’ (I liked it my partner thought it depressing)
    [another endorsement for “Babettes . . .”]
    ‘My dinner with andre’. My, my we do have some introspective types. Fascinating.

    Reply

  60. WigWag says:

    Dan Kervick’s recommendation of “Babette’s Feast” is a great one.
    Other good food movies: “Eat Drink Man Woman” (about a Chinese Family); the remake of the same movie about a Mexican Family “Tortilla Soup” is less good.
    “Like Water for Chocolate” and “Big Night” are also delicious.

    Reply

  61. questions says:

    For symbolism in every shot, for introducing me to the notion of the McGuffin, nothing tops Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps!
    And for sheer silliness, with a beautiful quest narrative underlying the whole thing, there is Harold and Kumar (the first one, not the horrid second one). Sheer stupidity coupled with an English major’s love of theme!
    Casablanca is up there for the love/duty balance theme.
    And, as long as the occasional absurd flick is allowable, I have to confess to a liking for Shaolin Soccer — it reduces the typical good guy vs. bad guy theme to TEAM EVIL run by corporate greed, and the good guys’ team run by an injured former victim of the TEAM EVIL leader. Not a jot of ambiguity in this one! But it loves absurd kung fu, silly camera work and effects; it has a deep sympathy for victims of the class system; and it hits at how much we can make ourselves hate the opposing team.
    For more “filmic” choices, check out Dan Kervick’s list! For fun, go for early Jackie Chan. No guns, all weapons are in the local environment (maybe they’re even organic!!), and what an athlete!

    Reply

  62. susan says:

    Fellini’s 8 1/2

    Reply

  63. Brigid says:

    Casa Blanca- the best movie ever made
    Dr. Strangelove- the best political satire movie
    Other great ones:
    To Kill a Mockingbird- social justice
    Gandhi- epic historical
    Lawrence of Arabia- epic historical
    Yojimbo- (starring Toshiro Mifune) – best Samurai film
    Babette’s Feast
    The Big Sleep- (film noir Bogart film based on Raymond Chandler novel)
    Witness for the Prosecution- Charles Laughton
    The Third Man- Orson Welles( international film noir)
    They don’t make them like they used to.

    Reply

  64. Dan Kervick says:

    I like several of the films that have been mentioned so far, particularly: The Year of Living Dangerously, Dr. Strangelove, My Dinner with Andre, Apocalypse Now. Buy here’s a list of others.
    Two of my all-time favorites are :
    The Double Life of Veronique
    Babette’s Feast
    I love lots’ of Hitchcock, particularly:
    North by Northwest
    Strangers on a Train
    Rear Window
    The Man Who Knew Too Much
    These Fellini movies all made an impression on me when I saw them originally, but the only one I have seem recently is La Dolce Vita:
    La Strada
    La Dolce Vita
    Casanova
    Juliet of the Spirits
    These two Almodovar films:
    Atame!
    La Mala Education
    These David Lean films:
    Lawrence of Arabia
    Ryan’s Daughter
    The Bridge on the River Kwai
    I own almost all of the Kubrick films, everything from Paths of Glory forward. I deeply admire them all, even the ones that are hated by almost everyone I know. Probably a day doesn’t go by when some image from a Kubrick film doesn’t play in my thoughts.
    Others
    Wild Strawberries
    Casablanca
    The Conversation
    The Seven Year Itch
    Blade Runner
    Shane
    How Green Was My Valley
    The Spy Who Came in From the Cold
    Key Largo
    The Treasure if the Sierra Madre
    Diva
    Three Days of the Condor
    Chinatown
    Blue Velvet
    Days of Heaven
    La Belle Epoque
    Barton Fink
    Taxi Driver
    Raising Arizona
    The Night of the Hunter
    The Third Man
    The Last Temptation of Christ
    Brokeback Mountain
    The Magnificent Ambsersons
    Prospero’s Books
    Solaris

    Reply

  65. susan says:

    Alec Guinness is delightfully odd in the 1958 adaptation of Joyce Cary’s, The Horse’s Mouth.
    Adding energy is the music, adapted from Prokofiev’s Lieutenant Kijé.

    Reply

  66. ... says:

    the insider – from 1999 was another film i thought was exceptional… as some others have said – it is too difficult to name your favorite movies, even for someone like me that hasn’t seen that many!

    Reply

  67. daCascadian says:

    As others have said there are far too many to make a “Top X” list. I
    haven`t seen mention of “Dangerous Liaisons” or “2001” both of
    which certainly should be in the running.
    Having partly grown up around Hollywood I probably think about
    movies somewhat differently than most folks.
    Great art form badly corrupted is what I would say these days.
    [Your captcha is STILL broken – third attempt
    at posting]
    “The age of the mass media is just that — an age. It doesn’t have
    to last forever.” – Jay Ros

    Reply

  68. ... says:

    perhaps due my impression ‘our culture’ is swamped with the movie industry (hollywood in particular) i have maintained a healthy distance for this same industry for a long time, while continuing to support my main passion and vocation – music.. i support live music as opposed to film in general… when i was younger i used to enjoy going to see foreign flicks by filmmakers like satyajit ray, kurosawa, fellini and etc… movies i liked were el topo, distant thunder, the chess players, ran, seven samurai, the seventh seal, dersu uzala and stuff like that…
    i happened to catch slumdog millionaire recently and thought it was quite good.
    on steves list i also enjoyed my dinner with andre and amelie quite a bit…the folks who did amelie also did delicatessen, a weird movie that was memorable..
    i have been reading a few biographies of some well known jazz musicians lately – dizzy gillespie and thelonious monk.. it is difficult to find time for movies on top of everything else, so i tend to avoid the theatre unless my wife insists it is time to go see something!! i know how to take a hint!

    Reply

  69. WigWag says:

    One last thing, Carsick, if you liked “Wings of Desire” (I loved it too)the original version made in Germany by Wim Wenders has been remade as an American movie called “City of Angels.” The remake stars Meg Ryan and Nicholas Cage, but the original is much more haunting.

    Reply

  70. WigWag says:

    Carsick, you have great taste in movies.
    Excellent Shakespeare Movies:
    Much Ado About Nothing (Branagh, Thompson, Denzel Washington)
    Looking for Richard (Al Pacino) though it’s more about making Richard III than an actual rendition of the play.
    Merchant of Venice (the Al Pacino version) was quite alarming.
    But the best Shakespeare movie (made in recent times at least)is the 1999 version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” The movie starred the incomparable Kevin Kline who gave an interpretation of Bottom like nothing I’ve ever seen. Stanley Tucci was great as Puck and Rupert Everett was a delicious Oberon. David Strahairn (Theseus) and the hillarious Bill Irwin (Tom Snout) were also brilliant. This version is as good or better than anything you’ll see on the stage which is amazing considering the cast is mostly American.
    You’re right,”Apocalypse Now” has to be on anyone’s 10 best list, especially the expanded version.
    “The Year of Living Dangerously” was also terrific. If my memory serves, it was about revoultion in Indonesia. Sigourney Weaver and Mel Gibson gave breakout performances and I think this was one of Peter Weir’s first movies.
    One other movie that bears mentioning is “Brokeback Mountain” which was magnificently shot. Of oourse Heath Ledger’s performance was heartbreaking.

    Reply

  71. Matt says:

    One of my favorite recent movies was “Burn After Reading.” I thought it was a perfect farce.

    Reply

  72. carsick says:

    Okay, three more that do make my all time list.
    The Tin Drum
    Wings of Desire
    Apocalypse Now

    Reply

  73. karl says:

    Schieffer’s comment about his change of perspective regarding Being There (from satire to documentary) is very well-taken.
    Favorite (and most perfect — if you’ll pardon my bad grammar) film: The Maltese Falcon. Favorite political film: The Trial of Joan of Arc (a French film from 1962).
    It’s nice to see Paths of Glory get a nod from FogBelter. In a different vein, may I recommend Barbarossa? It covers some of the same ground as Liberty Valence (mythmaking, manly virtue, etc.) and has an exceptional, yet often overlooked, performance from Gary Busey.
    And what, Mr. Clemons, do you recommend?

    Reply

  74. carsick says:

    I worked in film for a number of years and as I’ve gotten older it’s become increasingly harder to make a top ten so I’ll just mention some.
    I’ll second any love for Philadelphia Story. Fun acting and story with big stars and a snappy script from start to finish.
    Being There I still watch more often than any other film probably.
    For some reason The Year of Living Dangerously stands out though probably because the pieces worked so well, the faults were hidden. Haven’t seen it in years but this question will provoke me to put it on my rental list.
    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. And The Unforgiven.
    Stanley Kaufman gets me to the theater every time.
    I read Shakespeare but rarely enjoy films of his work but Branagh’s Henry V and Zeffirelli’s Hamlet (Ian Holm as Polonius cracks me up) stand out.
    Enjoy The Conversation, The Hunt for Red October and…
    Going on too long already.

    Reply

  75. Zathras says:

    I was deeply influenced by the perspective on Anglo-American relations presented in The Naked Gun, which also made an impression with its ideas about the American national pastime.

    Reply

  76. Blue Steel says:

    At last! A few others to appreciate my favorite movie of all time.
    I’m a huge Sellers fan, but of all his movies, this one is Peter at his most understated and restrained – and his funniest.
    Not only does it show much of Washington (the powerful and the elite) as those who hear only what they want to hear – but it also takes the movie-goer on a journey through the eyes of Chance – where we get to see all the absurdity of power and power structures as he see them – just another choice on the TV dial.

    Reply

  77. WigWag says:

    You have very eclectic taste in movies, Steve. My “Dinner with Andre” is a great choice; who wouldn’t love a movie where two people just talk to each other for two hours. Wally Shawn was quite good! Another movie reminiscent of it is a 1987 Jonathan Demme film called “Swimming to Cambodia.” It’s essentially a one and half hour monologue by the late humorist Spalding Gray who unfortunately killed himself a couple of years ago.
    And I love your choice of Amelie; not only was the movie fun, but who wouldn’t want to gaze at Audrey Tatou for two straight hours; she is a compelling and very beautiful actress.
    I think my favorite movie of all time is “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence.” The way that movie deals with the concept of nuance and the way it documents how good can come from evil and vice versa never fails to amaze me. I watch it two or three times every year on my VCR.
    As long as we’re talking about Westerns, “The Searchers” is also worth a look; the way the movie deals with the racism of the John Wayne character is also very thought provoking.
    On the comedy side I have two favorites; “The Philadelphia Story” and “The Thin Man.” The only thing better than Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart is William Powell and Myrna Loy (and let’s not forget Asta the Airedale.)
    Like you, I also liked “Juno” alot. My grandchildren dragged me to see it and I have to admit I thought it was great. It turned me into a big Ellen Page fan. I’ve subsequently seen several of her movies; “The Tracy Fragments” was unlike any movie I’ve ever seen and “Smart People” was also quite good.
    A good “cult” movie is “Local Hero.” It was never a big hit but was it is really quite extraordinary. It starred Peter Riegert and Burt Lancaster who were both excellent. The movie features a phenomenal score from Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits.
    Two of my favorite recent movies both starred Viggo Mortensen and were directed by David Cronenberg; “History of Violence” and “Eastern Promises” are both well worth seeing (although somewhat violent).
    One last modern movie I would mention is, “The Virgin Suicides” written by Jeffrey Eugenides and directed by Sofia Coppola. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth renting. It was Coppola’s directorial debut and for a first movie, it was truly remarkable.

    Reply

  78. FogBelter says:

    Very interesting choices. Somehow I wouldn’t have taken Senator Graham as a “Seven Days in May” type myself.
    I have many films I rank among my favorites but a film I never tire of seeing is Kubrick’s “Paths of Glory”. Kirk Douglas has appeared in some amazing films.

    Reply

  79. Doug T. says:

    It is really hard to pick a movie. Dr. Strangelove is one. A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum is another. Anything with Walter Matthau.
    But for one, I guess tonight (and many nights) it is Lion in Winter. Superb acting and excellent political story.
    But let’s not forget Monty Python.

    Reply

  80. Steve Clemons says:

    Thanks for the note Jim. Yes there was. I was floored by what Senator Graham said that night — and I should add that this screening was at the height of the anti-torture debate. Whether one would have agreed with Lindsey Graham before this — or in the present — I think you would have greatly liked his introduction of that film that night. best to you, steve clemons

    Reply

  81. Jim says:

    **In fact, in his opening testimonial about the film, Senator
    Graham said that today like in the 1950s, we needed to beware
    the “demogogery of military leaders and national security experts”
    who would take America in directions it should not go. I was on
    my feet (in my mind) giving Graham a standing ovation for that
    introduction.**
    Fascinating. There was a time when Lindsey Graham objected to
    fear-mongering and demogoguery when discussing national
    security?

    Reply

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