Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 9, 2016

November 9, 2015

‘Trumbo’ Shows Hollywood’s Ugly Political Side

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Cranston, left, and Roach spoke with Roll Call in an interview Monday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Washington might be Hollywood for ugly people, but in “Trumbo,” the new movie about blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, the ugliness of politics comes straight from the movies’ dream factory.

For star Bryan Cranston, the chance to tell Trumbo’s story was a “really important part of American history, of Hollywood history, that was a blemish on our Constitution,” he told CQ Roll Call. Far from a distant episode, Cranston said the attitudes that pushed such political attacks mid-century haven’t exactly been banished. “I think that kind of polemic is dangerous. And that’s what we see in politics right now,” he continued. Full story

By Jason Dick Posted at 4:20 p.m.

November 3, 2015

Fred Thompson’s Best Washington Roles


Thompson’s Trudeau, seen here with Dennis Franz’s Capt. Carmine Lorenzo, helped keep it together at Dulles International Airport in “Die Hard 2.” (Courtesy AF archive/Alamy).

As Washington mourns the death of one of its own, former Sen. Fred Thompson, Hollywood is also contending with the loss of a reliable Washington heavy.

The Tennessee Republican was a hulking presence: 6 feet, 6 inches of Southern baritone drawl. His political work started as Republican counsel on the Senate Watergate Committee before he went into acting, and he spent decades toggling back and forth between the two worlds. Full story

By Jason Dick Posted at 3:24 p.m.

November 2, 2015

Afghanistan Is for Documentarians

Junger is among the filmmakers making documentaries about the war in Afghanistan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Junger is among the filmmakers making documentaries about the war in Afghanistan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The United States’ longest war has not led to the type of feature cinema that helped define previous conflicts.

The fighting in Afghanistan, lurching along even now after the formal end of U.S. combat operations last year, has not produced a “Casablanca” or “Saving Private Ryan” or “Apocalypse Now.” Whether it’s the economics of the industry or the difficulty in defining the post-9/11 era, Hollywood has been relatively hesitant to venture fictionally into the quagmire. Not so, documentary filmmakers.

Full story

By Jason Dick Posted at 12:41 p.m.

October 28, 2015

‘The Armor of Light’ Comps NRA for Screenings

This isn’t your average Disney movie. For one, the makers of “Armor of Light,” a documentary that explores the morality of being pro-gun, are offering NRA members free tickets in select theaters.

The directorial debut for Abigail Disney — a grandniece of Walt and liberal outlier in the famously conservative family — follows the Rev. Rob Schenck, an evangelical minister and founder of the Washington, D.C.-based Faith and Action, as he breaks with conservative orthodoxy to challenge whether one can be a “pro-life” Christian and also be “pro-gun.” For Schenck, it’s a journey that pits him against many of his natural followers and jeopardizes his career. Not that that’s stopping him. Full story

October 26, 2015

‘Immigration Battle’ Reveals Big, Little Congressional Details

UNITED STATES - MAY 20: Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., shakes hands with undocumented youth during a news conference on military service for undocumented youth with Deferred Action and other issues related to military service for immigrants and their families on Tuesday, May 20, 2014, out side of the U.S. Capitol. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Gutiérrez, center, gets top bill in “Immigration Battle.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

They were two days away.

Reps. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., had a July 12, 2014, meeting scheduled with Speaker John A. Boehner to present the Ohio Republican with their immigration reform bill, complete with a whip count, that was ready for introduction.

But on July 10, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., lost his primary to Dave Brat, who ran on a hard-right immigration platform, and the migrant children crisis on the Southwest border peaked. After that, “the whip count commitments evaporated,” according to “Immigration Battle,” a new documentary by Shari Robertson and Michael Camerini. Full story

October 23, 2015

Farewell, My Lovely Crime and Punishment Museum

Some electrifying headgear. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

Some electrifying headgear. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

The Crime and Punishment Museum had to blow after getting the bum’s rush from its downtown D.C. joint. “Sadly, due to unforseen circumstances,” the sign said.

Where Roll Call Dares Logo(Thumbnail)

Who bumped the CPM? The chin was they didn’t have the cabbage to stay in primo real estate. Without a big butter and egg man, they had to go, pronto, dateline Sept. 30. Full story

October 21, 2015

They Do Make Movies Like That Anymore

(Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

(Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

The type of movies Hollywood supposedly doesn’t make anymore are getting a lot of screen time in Washington, D.C. Full story

By Jason Dick Posted at 2:26 p.m.

October 15, 2015

Afghan Ambassador on Hand for Documentary Screening

Talk about timing.

Just a few days after President Barack Obama announced the United States would be retaining a military force in Afghanistan, the National Press Club will screen “Frame by Frame,” a documentary about the new generation of photojournalists in the war-torn country, and will have Hamdullah Mohib, Afghanistan’s ambassador to the U.S., in attendance.

The relatively cosmopolitan country was thrown into chaos with the Soviet invasion in 1979, kicking off more than 30 years of conflict that persists to this day. When the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in the 1990s, they banned, among many things, photography, and a generation of the country’s home-grown visual history was hobbled. With the U.S. invasion and shift in control after 2001, a new wave of photographers and photojournalists learned the trade, and have been documenting their nation ever since. “I want to use photography in a way not to be voiceless again,” one of the subjects, a female photographer, says in the movie.

“Frame by Frame,” by Alexandria Bombach and Mo Scarpelli, has been making the rounds of festivals and documentary circles, and now the Press Club, on Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 for members and $10 for non-members.

The filmmakers will join via Skype a post-screening discussion moderated by club president John Hughes. There should be plenty to talk about.

For more information, see the club’s calendar and website.


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October 13, 2015

Coming to a National Mall Near You

UNITED STATES - APRIL 10: Visitors at the National Gallery of Art ride a moving walkway through the installation, "Multiverse," the largest and most complex light sculpture by American artist Leo Villareal. The work features approximately 41,000 computer-programmed LED nodes that run through channels along the 200-foot-long hallway. (Photo By Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

The National Gallery of Art is just one of the cultural institutions in D.C. offering free movie screenings. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The various Smithsonian and related government institutions around the capital region always offer a healthy serving of gratis good cinema in grand facilities such as the National Gallery of Art, the Freer and Sackler museums and the National Archives.

This week, it’s as simple as walking in the door to watch some interesting, influential or just plain weird movies at those spots. Full story

By Jason Dick Posted at 8:57 a.m.
Movies, Museums

October 1, 2015

D.C.’s Spotlight on ‘Spotlight’

David Simon was right at home on stage at the National Portrait Gallery, moderating a post-screening panel of people who made the film “Spotlight” happen.

“I’m going to start with the artifice of the film. As a newspaper reporter for 13 years, this was porn — in the best possible way,” said the former scribe for the Baltimore Sun and creative force behind HBO’s “The Wire,” “Treme” and “Show Me a Hero.”

The crowd that gathered for Wednesday’ night’s opening of Double Exposure: The Investigative Film Festival roared in approval. For an auditorium filled with journalists or the people who love them, the movie and its story was a celebration of journalism at its best: The Boston Globe’s Pulitzer-Prize winning series about serial sexual abuse and the cover-up in the Catholic Church. Full story

By Jason Dick Posted at 3:57 p.m.

September 29, 2015

Back to the Future Brewing With Bluejacket

When dreaming up Bluejacket Brewery, Neighborhood Restaurant Group Beer Director Greg Engert said he “wanted to create a place that was limitless.”

Almost two years and 150 different beers after its opening, Engert and his crew show no signs of limiting their production anytime soon. Engert says he sees Bluejacket’s role as not only “an incubator for beer ideas and experimentation,” but also to serve as an anchor in the developing Navy Yard neighborhood. Full story

By Brittany Zeman Posted at 5 a.m.

September 28, 2015

Investigative Film Festival Opens in D.C.

(Bryan Bedder/Getty Images File Photo)

Edward Snowden will participate in a panel discussion via Skype. (Bryan Bedder/Getty Images File Photo)

The Founding Fathers thought so much of the power of the press they reserved a special spot for it in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. Perhaps it’s appropriate then, that the inaugural Double Exposure: The Investigative Film Festival and Symposium would make its home in Washington, D.C. Full story

By Jason Dick Posted at 3:53 p.m.

September 14, 2015

Getting on the Big Bus, an Alternative Commute

Tourists on the top deck of a double decker tour bus wait in a cool drizzle for the bus tour to depart Union Station in Washington. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Tourists wait for the Big Bus to depart Union Station. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Where Roll Call Dares Logo(Thumbnail)There are worse ways to get around Washington than riding the Big Bus.

Poncho-frocked tourists typically are the only ones trekking about on D.C.’s double-deckered tour buses. Frazzled locals, meanwhile, cram into rising-fare Metro trains that come with the added excitement of death by smoke inhalation, multiple stabbing wounds, derailment or the banality of chronic delays and overcrowded discomfort. Full story

September 8, 2015

Larry David Lends a Hand to ‘Fed Up’ Campaign

Larry David sits on the floor of the Fleet Center on the night Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., was nominated as the vice presidential candidate,at Democratic National Convention 2004, in Boston.

David, between bites, urged support the “Fed Up” Kickstarter campaign. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Larry David, as only Larry David can do, is  urging people to support efforts to get the food documentary “Fed Up” in the hands of the nation’s just-back-in-school teachers to help educate students about the food industry’s peculiar way of adding things (See: sugar, lots of it.) to its wares.

“Hey, I’m Larry David. I’m having a fantastic meal here,” he says on a video taken ostensibly from his dining room table and posted on the “Fed Up” Kickstarter page. “It’s all fresh stuff. Fresh healthy stuff from my ex-wife’s garden, and because she gives me the food, I have to do something in return for her, of course. I’m divorced seven years and I still have to do this stuff,” the “Seinfeld” and “Larry David Show” creator smirks.

And the ask? To back the Kickstarter campaign’s $150,000 goal. “All you have to do is, ehhh, give a little money, eh?” he says, taking a bite and pointing to his plate. “Everybody should eat like this,” he adds, signing off with a simple, “all right.”

The filmmakers and team behind “Fed Up” have done other unconventional campaigns. Last year, as part of the documentary’s release and to parry criticism from the food industry, one publicity poster had a simple image: two M&Ms, one with “F” and the other with a “U” against a white backdrop and alongside the words “Fed Up. Now Playing.”

The campaign, currently with about $38,000 pledged, has until Sept. 30 to raise the rest of its target.


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By Jason Dick Posted at 1:44 p.m.
Eat, Movies

September 2, 2015

National Book Festival Features Zero Members of Congress

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The 15th annual National Book Festival features the largest-ever contingent of writers (175) for Saturday’s literary shindig at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in downtown D.C. And while there will be no shortage of political and policy tomes being hawked and talked about, there will be a noticeable absence from among the authors among us: members of Congress.

Full story

By Jason Dick Posted at 12:53 p.m.
Getting Lit-erary

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