The Advocate's 18 Favorite Films at Outfest 2013
BY Daniel Reynolds Sunnivie Brydum and Diane Anderson-Minshall
July 11 2013 4:00 AM ET
Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia
Saturday, July 20, 11 a.m. at DGA 1
“I must say, I know quite a lot of people underground here,” said the late writer Gore Vidal, standing near his tombstone in the opening scene of Nicholas Wrathall’s “Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia.” And indeed, the 89-minute film is a veritable Who’s Who of American luminaries both living and dead — from Jacqueline Onassis and John F. Kennedy, to actors Paul Newman and Tim Robbins, to writers Truman Capote and Christopher Hitchens, who all numbered among the friends, colleagues, and occasional enemies of the late writer.
Vidal’s privileged upbringing, intelligence, and access to the worlds of politics and entertainment make him an ideal narrator of not only his own story, but also American history. And Filmmaker Nicholas Wrathall gives him a worthy medium, combining one-on-one interviews in the near present with historical footage that traces Vidal’s life from the young scion of a political dynasty to one of the foremost gay writers and political commentators of the past century. The waters of politics — and Hollywood — are often murky, and Vidal, who died in his Hollywood Hills home last summer, sliced through them with his signature wit and powers of perception. The film also devotes itself to understanding Vidal’s personal life, from his first love at the elite New England institution Phillips Exeter Academy, to his partner Howard Austen, with whom Vidal shared his life for more than half a century.