Sunday, December 24, 2017

Skating, Baseball, and JFK

The Price of Gold (ESPN 30 for 30) (2014): written and directed by Nanette Burstein: Excellent documentary about figure skaters Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan and, you know, that whole thing. The documentary leaves it pretty much up to the viewer to decide how much Harding knew about the plot to injure Kerrigan, and when. Harding agreed to be interviewed; Kerrigan did not. Along the way, the documentary ends up being about class and appearance in the skating world and the world at large. Recommended.

The Newspaperman: The Life and Times of Ben Bradlee (2017): written and directed by John Maggio: Legendary newspaperman Ben Bradlee narrates some of this documentary from beyond the grave, thanks to tapes he made for a memoir back in the 1990's. 

Prior to becoming editor of the Washington Post, where his tenure would include the history-making Pentagon Papers and Watergate stories, Bradlee was basically the last Movie-Star Journalist. He was best pals with JFK (friend Jim Lehrer, among others, notes that this was incredibly compromising from a journalistic POV). He globe-trotted, left two families to marry someone new, and was memorably played by Jason Robards in All the President's Men

It's a solid documentary, though perhaps a bit too hagiographic and a little scattershot in its depiction of Bradlee's successes and failure after Watergate. Recommended.

Ken Burns' Baseball (Including The Tenth Inning) (1994/2010): written by Ken Burns, David McMahon, Lynn Novick, and Geoffrey C. Ward; directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick; narrated by John Chancellor (1994) and Keith David (2010): Ken Burns' great, flawed history of baseball could very well be titled Baseball in New York and Boston. It's that weighted towards the teams of those two cities, to the extent that Detroit's World Series wins in 1968 and 1984 are never mentioned. 

Buck up, Detroit -- Kansas City, Toronto, St. Louis, and Cleveland also warrant barely a mention for World Series wins. Also San Francisco, Cincinnatti, Oakland.... OK, so it's biased to the extent that its historical merits are somewhat dubious. Still, it's enjoyable. Especially if you love New York or Boston. Everywhere else, not so much. Recommended.

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