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Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia

Director:  Nicholas D. Wrathall
Year Released:  2013
Rating:  2.0

Jaded contrarian/historian Gore Vidal's life gets a neat little summary in this bio-doc from Wrathall, starting with Vidal proudly showing his own tombstone and then going through his early background and political ties to his life in Italy as an ex-patriot. Like most of these biographical movies that seem to be cropping up (on Netflix, currently), it suffers from a sense of balance: as magnetic and witty and full of clever observations as Vidal is - and he makes valid points in many cases - it chooses to silence opposing voices and enemies (there were many) and humor his exaggerations and outright lies (FDR incited Pearl Harbor?) as well as skirt around many of the controversies that surrounded his acidic accusations ... not to mention such issues as his (alleged) promiscuity and refusal to adhere to sexual labels (he claims he and life partner Howard Austen never had sex ... whatever you say, man). Still, it's nice to see a work like this exists to celebrate a controversial figure in American Letters, and if it gets people to start reading him and his formidably worded essays, it has at least accomplished something of merit.

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