Monday, October 25, 2004

Cable Catch-Up: The Tall T (1957)

One of the great psychological westerns from the team of director Budd Boetticher and actor Randolph Scott. Burt Kennedy scripted from a story by Elmore Leonard.

Scott plays a lifelong cowboy struggling to make a go of it as a rancher. He’s taken hostage when the daughter of a local copper baron is kidnapped by the loathsome Richard Boone. Boone’s character is fascinating, an aging desperado who’s afraid of the young guns he’s taken up with, one of them played by Henry Silva. Scott has far more in common with Boone than he’d care to admit, and their scenes together have a bristling intensity.

Running time: 78 minutes. This movie is as lean as they come.

TV: Diary of a Political Tourist

Alexandra Pelosi’s first HBO documentary, “Journeys With George,” was a skin-deep look at then-Governor Bush on the campaign trail in 2000. It did offer an unguarded glimpse of a candidate who usually stayed fiercely on message, and that made it worth watching.

Her follow-up film takes in the entire Democratic primary season from Iowa through the convention. Pelosi has what seems like almost unlimited access; it probably helps that her mother Nancy is the House minority leader.

The movie is as superficial as its predecessor but lacks its focus. Pelosi has nothing interesting to say about the process, and she blurts out any thought that crosses her mind. But she does capture a few moments with the candidates that make this a must-see for political junkies. Like Florida Senator Bob Graham (oh, that’s right, he ran for President) saying that he wants to be reincarnated so he can try his luck as a country/western singer, and John Kerry getting an earful from an Iowa voter over his comment that “even the Italians” could beat the lowly Iraqi army. Pelosi also returns to the White House to see the President, and I have to say that the man’s charisma practically bursts off the screen.

Pelosi was a panelist last night on Tina Brown’s mesmerizingly awful TOPIC A on CNBC. Has SNL taken on this show yet? Or are Tina’s ratings so low it’s not worth the effort? Amy Poehler could nail Tina’s “Jesus, is that a camera?” look.