“American Veteran” is a reminder that there are a near-infinite variety of veterans and veteran experiences, and it helps close the gap between veterans and everyone else. It asks civilians to walk a mile in veteran boots, and it lights a path for the journey.
Wignot handles details of the legend’s tumultuous biography with great care, honoring his talents while acknowledging the toll they took on him ... One walks away admiring not just the film’s subject, but its director, too.
'PBS' 'American Experience' delivers a top-shelf two-part documentary beginning Sept. 27 about William Randolph Hearst, connecting the early mogul's 20-century practices directly to the media climate of today ... Still, the part that really resonates comes from using this rear-view mirror to see where we are -- and where we're heading. As David Nasaw, author of 'The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst,' puts it, 'He invents the world that for better or worse we now inhabit.'
Those unfamiliar with Ailey’s work are presented with enough clips to have a solid understanding of what it was trying to achieve and why it has remained so relevant for more than a half-century. These moments are some of the strongest in the documentary, letting the poetry of Ailey’s chosen language convey the depth of his genius.
In Wignot’s retelling, Ailey comes off as a solitary artist married to his craft. She zeroes in on the insecurity that plagued Ailey’s career and made him question his own worthiness, as well as a debilitating mental health crisis that terrified the people close to him.
“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend,” it was famously uttered in the film The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. The legend of iconic press baron William Randolph Hearst was made into arguably our greatest movie in Citizen Kane, but the facts — as portrayed in the new PBS documentary Citizen Hearst (streaming here) — are arguably stranger than fiction. The power of Hearst to ruin politicians and invent military conflicts (famously, with 1898′s Spanish-American War) will make you ponder the power of the media in American society — not just then, but now.
The relevance and reach of Ailey’s career can’t be overstated, and Wignot ensures it gets due recognition, while still engaging with questions of whether the artist was a token for the white establishment, which could pat itself on the back when championing his work without structurally promoting and nurturing other Black artists.