Friday, May 20, 2005

WCBE 90.5 FM: "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room," "Steamboy"

It's Movie Time
Co-hosts: John DeSando & Clay Lowe
Producer/Director: Richelle Antczak, WCBE 90.5 FM

Reviews: “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room ," “Steam Boy,”
Taped: May 18, 2005
Air Time: 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm, May 20, 2005
Streaming live on the web at .

The Script:

“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” one more time, on DVD . . .

"Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room" warns YOU to be SMART about where you put YOUR investments. . .

And “Steam Boy” is 21st Century sensibility found in 19th century industrialism . . .


Richelle Antczak
"It's Movie Time" in Central-Ohio, with John DeSando and Clay Lowe . .


I'm John DeSando

Clay (“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”
And I'm Clay Lowe.

Folks, if you like watching fat cats, crooked publishers, and jaundiced politicians take on local yokels whom they’ve had appointed to the Senate, then Frank Capra’s “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” now on DVD, is the movie for you. Never mind that it was made in 1939, and never mind that the world in those days seemed more innocent. [It nevertheless took courage to produce it. Just ask Orson Welles what happened to “Citizen Kane” two years later.]

As corny as it gets, the movie’s Oscar winning script had Jimmy Stewart playing a Boy Ranger advisor who was the one picked to replace the state’s recently deceased senator. Selected, of course, not because his character was so simple hearted, but because (when it came to politics), he was so simple minded.

But even though Washington’s rough and tumble immediately drove him to his knees, he managed to get back up (and with a little help from new found friends), took them all on by mounting a marathon filibuster on the floor of the Senate.

His mantra?

“Lost causes are the only causes worth fighting for,” eh John?

John ("Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room")
Clay: "Ask why" was the mantra of one of the most remarkable companies in the history of modern society: Enron. And no one, not even the venerable accounting firm Arthur Anderson, posed that question. So the little energy company that could amassed billions of dollars through deceptive accounting practices ignored by the people paid to know.

Alex Gibney's disturbing documentary, "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room," begins with the tragic concept of the fatal flaw, hubris, and applies it meticulously to Ken Lay, Andrew Skilling, and Andrew Fastow, the princes of Enron darkness.

The documentary fails only when it manipulates its audience with background songs that dramatize the obvious ironies, e.g.' "Son of a Preacher Man" plays during Lay's biography. It also regrettably holds back on the cozy relationship between CEO Lay and the Bush family.

One of the talking heads describes Enron as "a house of cards . . . built
over a pool of gasoline." It is enjoyable to see Enron execs figuratively torched in their House of Wax.

Clay ("Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room")
John, “The Smartest Guys in the Room” ended up, of course, being the dumbest guys in the room, but that’s only because they got caught. And you’re right, this documentary should be placed right alongside “The House of Wax” as a fitting film to be classified in the genre called horror.

The lives destroyed, the confidences betrayed, the black marks that have marred the reputations of some of our nation’s most prestigious institutions will be a long time scrubbing clean. HOW it happened has been meticulously documented by the filmmakers who traced the threads that led to the tangled web at the end. But WHY it happened they have left unsaid. Simple pride and greed is not an answer.

Perhaps next week when we devote our whole show to the new Star Wars saga, we might discover that not only has George Lucas asked the question “Why?” He might also have come up with a more definitive answer.

John, science fiction may have more to offer than I thought.

John ("Steam Boy")
Clay, returning to theaters is Steamboy, a Japanese animated marriage of Metropolis and Sky Captain, a fable about the limited and unlimited possibilities of science and invention. This film takes the powerful presence of steam in the mid-nineteenth century and blends it with scientists' and politicians' dreams of transcendence.

The animation is traditional, not fancy, just comic book enough to make you nostalgic, but modern enough to dazzle you with the pipes, dials, bolts, gears, and steam--as Fritz Lang did in Metropolis (1927). When young hero Ray uses an engine-driven wheel to escape a monstrous tractor, the thrills are as effective as those of the best Hollywood chases.

The look of Steamboy throughout is more like Blake’s “dark Satanic Mills” and less like the idyllic counterpoints in Lang’s “Metropolis.” Although at times repetitive and didactic, Steamboy is thrilling and serious about the future of mankind and one of my all time favorite animations.

Enough of smart guys, dumb guys, and dark satanic mills, John, because it’s grading time.


“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” gets an “A” because Frank Capra’s common folk ARE ALWAYS ALTRUISTIC . . .

"Enron, The Smartest Guys in the Room" earns a "B" because BIG BUCKS often BREAK BIG BUSINESSES . . .

"Enron” gets a “B” because to say BUSINESS is BUSINESS is not an answer to Why? . . .

"Steam Boy” earns an "A" because it's ALLEGORICAL ANIMATION at its best . . .

Clay, If I smartly switch my retirement investment from energy to health care, do you think the PRESIDENT will care?

John, the President will always care, but just to make sure you’d best stuff your bucks in a mattress.

I'm outta here.

See you at the movies, folks.


The Award Winning "It's Movie Time" with John DeSando and Clay Lowe is produced by Richelle Antczak in conjunction with 90.5 FM, WCBE in Columbus and 106.7 FM in Newark.


© 2005 John DeSando and Clay Lowe