Above all else, “The United States of Amnesia” convincingly makes the case that Gore Vidal was something of an oracle, well ahead of his time on many topics—homosexuality, the corporatization of American politics, the disastrous consequences of American foreign policy, the hollow office of the presidency and the mounting animosity toward the U.S. from abroad. He traced the contours of a country that squandered the dream of republic in its ongoing march toward empire, and though the many faces of Vidal might have confounded some of his audience, his words hold up in the final analysis. He may not have a rightful heir, but he leaves behind his work, along with one last backward glance in this film—and he still looks sharp, even from so far away.
READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW at www.truthdig.com and follow links there to Vidal's essay's for TruthDig. Some of the comments there touched on Vidal's mental decline. Reiterating what the Gore Vidal Pages posted as part of the conversation:
In the end--but not at the time of the filming of documentary--Vidal did come to suffer from dementia and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which is sometimes called "wet brain". No reporting nor the gossip mill have said that he had Alzheimer's, however.
Vidal clearly became less mentally sharp in his later years, certainly during the time of the filming of the documentary, Vidal was well past his prime mentally. But, that happens to virtually all people if they live long enough. He outlived most of his friends and enemies alike--everyone from Vonnegut and Paul Newman to Mailer, Capote, and Buckley.
Thankfully, Vidal lived long enough for Wrathall to produce this film with a fair amount of original footage. The scenes of Vidal's departure from Ravello were among the first that Wrathall captured. (That's why the house looks empty and in the scenes of Vidal at his desk the bookshelves behind him are empty. Everything had been packed up already.)