Arguing the World — March 12, 2010

Arguing the World

I just watched this; terrific stuff. It follows four New York intellectuals — Irving Howe, Irving [father of the omnipresent William] Kristol, Daniel Bell, and Nathan Glazer — from their meeting at City College of New York in the 40s to the present day. Glazer, Kristol, and Bell all curved off into one form or another of conservatism, while Howe remained until the end the strident liberal. But what’s spectacular about this film, and really sets it apart from any other movie I’ve seen, is that it refuses to take sides against any of these men. It wants to trace their failures and their achievements to their roots as disputatious New York Jews, while still trying to understand how men could come out of the Sixties with such different feelings toward politics and ideas. Really a terrific film. (And I submit that it’s impossible to come away from [film: Arguing the World] without a little crush on Irving Howe — particularly given the impish smirk he gives the camera just before we find out that he’s died.)

__P.S.__: Hat tip to Hendrik Hertzberg, from whom I learned about this excellent movie a few months back; it just floated to the top of my Netflix queue recently.