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With Jim Sabatini

Best of Enemies

Best of Enemies

Rated: R for some sexual content/nudity and language.
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date:  August 14, 2015 Released by: Magnolia Pictures

The influence of leftist Gore Vidal and conservative William F. Buckley Jr. is still felt in blowhard fashion today from their televised debates (in linear fashion here on a desperately lowest-rated ABC) which occurred during the Democratic and Republican National Conventions of 1968. It will resonate most with those glued to the most politically opposed at that time.

Best of Enemies is an engrossing, well-accoutered documentary from Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon of how the medium affected these feuding writers as well as the handling of political events. From interesting interviewees to a plethora of old clips the exposition to many a heated discourse helped put the verbally sparring intellectuals in perspective given what is on political discussion shows from CNN to Fox News.

The jibing blows over many rounds led to notorious words exchanged during the Chicago-based Democratic Convention where protesters were violently subdued by authorities. Vidal's calling his opponent a "crypto-Nazi" and Buckley's retort including "you queer" and the ultimatum of "I'll sock you...and you'll stay plastered." Buckley's flare-up plagued him for some time while with Vidal seeming (at least personally) more triumphant in the process.

And, the consequences of the debates on both had quite an impact with the filmmakers effectively using expressive unblemished voice-overs from Kelsey Grammer and John Lithgow to engage the viewer with pronounced excerpts from the writings of Buckley and Vidal. Best of Enemies connects from a feud as an evocative, meaningful testimonial of the way these persnickety controversial pundits providing the groundwork today's often less astute political face-offs.

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Best of Enemies        B+                     B+ 

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