Wednesday, May 20, 2009

13 Days

I'm cruising On Demand and what do I find? 13 Days!
This dramatization of the Kennedy White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis is worth any history buff's time.
Bruce Greenwood is terrific as Pres. Kennedy. His Boston accent is just about pitch perfect, which is no mean feat. He accurately recreates Kennedy's deliberate, but not quite tentative, demeanor in the face of very, very strong demands from virtually all of his advisers to bomb the shit out of Cuba, no matter the consequences with the Soviets. Greenwood's Kennedy makes use of every minute he was, just as the President did during the crisis.
The supporting cast is pretty good, too, despite Kevin Costner's execrable stab at sounding like a Southie (he's good as the heart of the movie and I like most of his work, but the accent sucks in this one). Steven Culp (Desperate Housewives, Star Trek Enterprise) offers up a fine depiction of Bobby Kennedy wrangling with the hawks.
The real standout is Kevin Conway as Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay. LeMay was the Pentagon's top nuclear zealot for years. He never bothered to hide his disgust for the Kennedys and later ran as George Wallace's VP candidate in 1968. Sterling Hayden's character in Dr. Strangelove was based partly on LeMay. Conway gets him perfectly here, summing up the hawk's inability to grasp the impact of instigating nuclear war.
Dylan Baker is also very good as Robert McNamara. McNamara is only remembered today as the guy who sold LBJ on Vietnam and then changed his mind too late. During the missile crisis, McNamara served much the same role as Bobby Kennedy, buttressing their president against an almost irresistible chorus for war. Baker's McNamara is uncertain, but never panicked or paralyzed.
The clip below is the best I could find on YouTube. Ignore Costner's accent and look for the movie the next time you're at the video store or on NetFlix.

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