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2 items from 2015

TV Review: ‘Compared to What: The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank’

21 October 2015 7:15 AM, PDT | Variety - TV News | See recent Variety - TV News news »

Barney Frank is such a colorful figure, he seems like a natural biographical subject. Yet “Compared to What: The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank” is a little too disjointed to fully do justice to the longtime Massachusetts congressman. From his role in establishing Dodd-Frank financial reform to coming out as a gay man when, as he notes, “Homosexuals were a despised minority,” Frank’s career is punctuated by enough highlights to make this Showtime acquisition well worth watching. That said, in the spirit of the Henny Youngman joke in the title, it doesn’t quite measure up to the best political documentaries.

Produced by, among others, Alec Baldwin, the film clearly benefits from extensive access to its star, up to and including having him wired at his own wedding, the first gay marriage involving a serving member of Congress. When Frank hugs his husband, Jim Ready, there are muffled voices and tears. »

- Brian Lowry

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Movie Review – Duck Soup (1933)

16 January 2015 6:07 AM, PST | Flickeringmyth | See recent Flickeringmyth news »

Duck Soup, 1933.

Directed by Leo McCarey.

Starring Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, Zeppo Marx, Margaret Dumont, Louis Calhern and Edgar Kennedy.


Freedonia and Sylvania are forced into war due to the insults of Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx) and the spies of Sylvania (Chico and Harpo Marx).

When told about the Marx brothers, I often think of Groucho. Until I watched Duck Soup, I didn’t know what his shtick even was. Were they silent comics, akin to Chaplin and Keaton? Did they transcend the talkie-divide like Laurel and Hardy? Were they lightning-fast talkers, in the same vein as Woody Allen or Henry Youngman? It turns out that the family of the Marx BrothersGroucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo – are a bit of everything. Each sibling either prefiguring or directly influenced-by a specific comic of the past. Chico, the smart-talking but not-so-clever one.  Harpo, the physical silent one. »

- Simon Columb

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