The Right Potato

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As he rewinds the week that was, CP takes a stab at profundity and likens it to Generation X: it lacked a defining moment. But behind each member of this week's event plurality lurks quite a good history. Here's a cinema trifecta of great movies that will make you smarter to boot. Watch and learn, and on Monday pretend you read it all in the Wall Street Journal.

CP alerts you to a bona fide Television Event on Friday night, 8:00 EST. Business channel CNBC -- home of the streaming ticker, during-the-break Dow updates, and Maria "The Money Honey" Bartiromo -- wades into movie waters with the excellent HBO-produced Barbarians at the Gate (1993). With recent revelations about the birth of Joe Camel, the broadcast of this savvy comedy of business manners, about the takeover of RJR Nabisco, is fortuitously timed. You get Jim Garner and Jonathan Pryce (not to mention Fred Thompson). You laugh. You learn a little something. Sure, you can rent it, but CP says be on hand at eight for this dream marriage of news and moviedom.

As for John Glenn and his search for the ultimate wrinkle cure, CP wishes a safe return to a solid American. But it's a bit like a Foreman fight; you'd rather see him in his prime. So grab (as if CP had to tell you this one) The Right Stuff (1983). This way, you get Ed Harris in John Glenn's prime; he's a better actor. The cast is stacked (down to Jeff Goldblum and Harry Shearer in small parts), the film is luxuriantly long, and darn it if it don't make you want to finally learn how to fold the flag just right. But after seeing Annie Glenn kick LBJ out of her house, CP can only hope that this time, Bill Clinton knows enough to stay away.

The doomsaying pick of this week has to be The Year of Living Dangerously (1983). Mel Gibson watches Indonesian President Suharto's bloody rise to power; millions killed in military coup. Today, it's still Suharto, it's still a military dictatorship, and with the IMF reforms (and Suharto's reluctance to impose them) making everybody nervous, the generals are still crazy after all these years. Eeesh.

One thing about fact-based movies; they sure beat reading all those books. So get comfortable. Get smart. And don't forget to rewind.