Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thirteen Days

Day 337 - 12/3/09 - Movie #337

BEFORE: From Nixon we move to JFK, and from Watergate to the Cuban Missile Crisis, another historical event that I feel I don't know very much about.

THE PLOT: The film is set during the two-week Cuban missile crisis in October of 1962, and it centers on how President John F. Kennedy, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, and others handled the explosive situation.

AFTER: Hmm, a peacable president who inherited a situation with a small radical country, and who has to figure out how to deal with hidden weapons of mass destruction. I bring this up for no particular reason, or connection to this week's speech by President Obama...

By all accounts, this is a tense, gripping thriller about a tense, gripping international incident. You see, this was my problem with "All the President's Men" - the pacing. You can make a film about a 2-week period in U.S. History, and it doesn't have to FEEL like it's 2 weeks long. It's called editing, guys, look into it.

Actually, there are some neat little editing tricks used in this film - like Kevin Costner closing a door in an empty Oval Office, and when he turns around, he's in a room full of people as the President is giving his address. Or a subtle use of black and white footage transitioning to color, to give us a feel of a newsreel turning into real events.

But let's tawk for a second about Boston accents. President Kennedy (Bruce Greenwood) has a real subtle one here, which makes sense for a man raised in upper-class Boston and on Cape Cahd, who might have needed to get rid of his accent while running for national office. And Robert Kennedy (Steven Culp) has one that's more pronounced, but Kevin Costner as Kennedy aide Kenny O'Donnell? Unless he was TRYING to speak like a poor kid from Southie with a speech impediment, he really overshot the mahk. My point is, if the accent is so noticeable that it overshadows every line, you may want to dial it back. Just a bit. His character was from Worcester, MA (pronounced "Wusster", not "War-chester") and they don't have so much of a Bah-stin speak out there in central Mass.

A lot of great character actors turned up in the cabinet meetings - like Dylan Baker as Defense Sec. Robert Macnamara, Michael Fairman as U.N. ambassador Adlai Stevenson, Len Cariou as Dean Acheson, Elya Baskin (last seen in "Air Force One") as a Russian ambassador, even Jack McGee as Chicago's Mayor Richard Daley. I watched the last hour of the film on my computer, and I just kept a browser open to the IMDB and had a good time looking up all the actors. Hey, that FBI agent looked familiar - yep, Tom Everett was in both "My Fellow Americans" and "Air Force One" earlier this week...though I may never see him in another film. And that pilot looks a lot like the guy who used to be on "Whose Line Is It Anyway" - yep, that was Charles "Chip" Esten, all right...Oh, I do have my fun.

RATING: 7 out of 10 satellite photos (it probably should be an 8, but I'm deducting for Costner's uber-accent getting in the way)

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