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"Join or Die," "Independence," "Don't Tread on Me," "Reunion," "Unite or Die," "Unnecessary War," "Peacefield"
JIMMY CARTER MAN FROM PLAINS
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directed by Jonathan Demme
by Ian Pugh It's hardly anything new to explore the professional brilliance and personal failings of those upon whom history has bestowed the title of Greatness, but Tom Hooper's epic miniseries John Adams bucks genre expectations by refusing to keep us at arm's length with a standardized character archetypally flawed, deigning to present us instead with an actual human being. Certainly it forges an entry point in dismissing the sense of harmonious unity we usually attribute to those early American leaders: marvel as the opinion Adams (Paul Giamatti, a delightfully bitter pill) holds of stoic, wooden George Washington (David Morse) sours from respect to resentment; smirk as he barely hides his contempt for the hedonistic Ben Franklin (Tom Wilkinson) and his platitudinous adages; shock as he is too late in realizing the treachery orchestrated by that prick Alexander Hamilton (Rufus Sewell). But it's not enough to tear down romantic icons by having General Washington--who looks as if he's leapt out of a Stuart painting--crack one of his false teeth at breakfast. "Bed, both'a ya!" Adams shouts at his children shortly after witnessing the bloody aftermath of the Boston Massacre, and suddenly the shroud of tall tales collapses in a single powerful blast from a man who may represent the antithesis of any preconceived notions we have about the era of powdered wigs and stockings.