Wednesday, March 22 7:30 PM Esquire Theatre, Clifton
Post-film discussion, drinks & conversation at ZA's (formerly Uno's) one block west of the Esquire.
The IFC and HDNet channels and Charlie Rose have run interviews with Eugene Jarecki and aired lengthy clips from WHY WE FIGHT. The most memorable segment is Eisenhower's farewell address in 1961, wherein he described the pervasive reach and potential excesses of the Military Industrial Complex. This segment can also be seen
along with other clips from the film.
This film's title was borrowed from Frank Capra's "Why We Fight" series, a collection of seven government-sponsored films back in WWII intended to galvanize the America spirit in wartime. The series, available at the Library, is worth watching - Goebbels was not the only master of propaganda in that era.
Jarecki says his film is an homage to Capra, citing WWF and the rest of his immense body of work. And, if you're not familiar with Capra films you should investigate his work - see CAPRA SIDEBAR, below.
In addition to "man on the street" interviews, WHY WE FIGHT showcases several talking-head pundits and politicians, including John McCain criticizing his own party, neo-con PNAC members Bill Kristol and Richard Perle, and the aging but no less vociferous left-wing Gore Vidal.
Jarecki's earlier film, the excellent TRIALS OF HENRY KISSINGER, was not booked into Cincinnati, but we brought it in for two sold-out CINCINNATI WORLD CINEMA screenings at the Esquire in February, 2003. It is now available at the Public Library and worth seeing if you missed it before.
Jarecki and Capra have more in common than a film title. Capra was concerned about social issues, and like Jarecki made several documentaries. But Capra's greatest commentaries on the American social condition were more effectively couched in dramas and comedies, stressing the moral and emotional dilemmas faced by his characters. These works are described as his "Little Guy" films - showing the role and the resolve of the ordinary citizen in scenarios where "the little guy bucks the system." Part of the lasting appeal of Capra's films was his ability to convey that the individual - "the little guy" - can make a difference.
Born in Sicily, Frank Capra emigrated to the U.S. with his family around the turn of the century. His early life experiences framed the perspective he brought to the screen throughout his career. Capra started out as a writer - creating gags for Our Gang and Mack Sennett - and turned director in the 20s. His notable early works include the silent films The Matinee Idol and That Certain Thing. After making some decent formula action films, like Dirigible and Flight, Capra moved away from Poverty Row Studios and at Columbia experimented with more artistic fare in the 30s, like The Bitter Tea of General Yen, perhaps his most under-appreciated film. Indeed, Capra is credited with bringing Columbia to financial stability and critical prominence.
Virtually everyone has seen Capra's classics - Lady for a Day, It Happened One Night, Lost Horizon, You Can't Take It with You, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Meet John Doe, Arsenic & Old Lace, It's A Wonderful Life, State of the Union, A Hole in the Head, and his final film, A Pocketful of Miracles (the 1961 remake of his original Lady for a Day) - but the rest of his work and his career in general are equally fascinating.
For example, those who attended GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK observed during the post-film discussion how director George Clooney arranged for his characters to realistically talk on top of each other's lines. This intentional overlapping of dialogue was pioneered by none other than Frank Capra back in the 30s. On another front Capra was instrumental in saving the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (and the Oscar Awards ceremonies) from oblivion - shifting the Academy's focus from labor affairs to critical artistic and technical recognition and cinema education.
Equally important, Capra was willing to tackle social issues that most other filmmakers avoided: evangelism, Jewish assimilation, herd mentality, exploitation of the masses, miscegenation, bank fraud and fascism.