film 3 of 4

Millhouse: A White Comedy

Film Review by Dean Duncan May 21, 2015

What a strange, awkward man! Some of the Brechtian components the de Antonio shoehorns in here play awkwardly too, and some of the more antical ones (Spanish, the more fanciful intercutting) they don’t work so well. The director’s amply documented hatred of Nixon sometimes causes him to stumble, I think.

What’s best here is central to the archivist’s mission, especially when the archivist doesn’t want to make it too easy on the people who are considering his archival assemblage. There’s no place for slickness or hurry here. Let’s watch, for instance, the entire five minutes of the Checkers speech, and the rest of “you won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore” as well. Post-Soviet (Eisenstein, Pudovkin) juxtaposition is good for making dramatic points, for propagating your message, for being dialectical. But in the service of plain old critical thinking, there’s nothing like working all the way through the data.

The 1968 candidate is quite fascinating. Of course he won! You could see how he would be reassuring to people in these tumultuous times, because of and not despite his earnest obliviousness. And this is important: Nixon wasn’t completely wrong! Look at those earnestly bright-eyed Republican kids, and how completely he represents and responds to their interests. They seem so atally square, so eternally self-absorbed (you cringe at all the plutocratic motivation around here), and they deserve their say too, don’t they?