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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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
“The time has come to dissolve the IMF,” thick-necked spymaster Alan Hunley tells the Senate Intelligence Committee. And just like that, the gavel comes down in “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation” on Ethan Hunt and the Impossible Mission Force, and the big, bad CIA gets to absorb the best elements of Hunt’s daring-do team of operatives.
(And, of course, after being disbanded at the beginning of the fifth installment of the franchise, they are reinstated by that same committee at the end of the movie after proving their mettle — also at the behest Alec Baldwin’s Hunley.)
For the time being, leave aside questions about why the House Intelligence Committee was left out of the decision, whether the president or National Security Council would have anything to say about it, and why a CIA man (Baldwin), as opposed to the director of national intelligence, would make such a recommendation. Focus instead on the moment the movie depicts a truly impossible mission. That’s not when Tom Cruise’s Hunt hitches a ride outside an airplane in the film’s opening sequence. No, it’s the even more fantastic spectacle of Congress moving with alacrity.
But members of the Senate Intelligence Committee can dream, no?