Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Movie review - "W".

Wow - so Ari and I saw this movie this week. It was excellent. It wasn't what I expected, on the one hand, but I didn't expect what I would usually expect, on the other, because most reviews said it wasn't what you'd think.

What it was was very strong - it did, in true Oliver Stone fashion, portray the stereotypes of the players - a calm and statesmanlike Colin Powell, a creepy Dick Cheney (played to perfection by Richard Dreyfuss, to whom I've always said the Veep bears a resemblance), a rat-like Karl Rove, a kindhearted but cold, patrician (think Queen Elizabeth) George Bush Sr., a patient and long-suffering Laura Bush, a shrill and iron-maidenly Barbara Bush, and of course the unintellectual frat boy, George Jr. However, it played out the most sensational perceptions and stereotypes of these players and their lives and times in a perfectly believable fashion - provocative without being sensationalistic, controversial without being scandalous, Stone walks a great line between humour and tragedy, sensationalism and true depth. Due to a decent script and a very strong cast, he succeeds.

My only complaint - and it is one that couldn't be avoided - is that some stuff was left out in order to fit this film into an already-tightly-crammed 2 hrs. 10 mins. We see the improbable rise of Dubbya from shiftless, aimless partier to born-again Christian politician to President of the United States, without seeing the true effects of the unravelling - given that it led to the Iraq War which was the ultimate climax and endpoint chronologically to this movie, there was little-to-no attention paid to Sept. 11/01, and given that it fits into the 'frat boy wins the lottery' mystique of Bush's rise to power, they gave little attention to the controversies surrounding his 2000 acquisition of (I refuse to say 'election to') the presidency. I feel we could have seen one or two parties fewer, one or two failed jobs fewer, to flesh out that transition.

That said - as someone who truly detests George Bush as a president, and everything he stands for - this movie earned him my sympathy, which may or may not have been Mr. Stone's goal. While I stand by that this man should never in a million years have become POTUS, I have at least come to see him as a badly misguided, unintellectual, uninformed man with a good heart who wanted to do good - to impress his family, and to improve his reputation. He is a boob and a nincompoop who will indisputably go down in the history books as the worst President in US history, but perhaps it is the American people, or the American electoral system, or this man's all-too-cunning and greedy base which are to blame for that - not this poor buffoon himself.

Which by the way, marks a 360 return to my stance of 2001. I went from believing this was a stupid and impressionable man surrounded by evil, to evil himself, and much smarter than we gave him credit for - this movie has managed to convince me that by and large, no; he was a dolt after all. Still, as I said, Stone did nothing to change my perception of this man's legacy, whatever the cause, nor do I think he meant to. I will still be breathing huge sighs of relief come January. Exit stage left - er - right, Dubbya - 3 more months all! :D Quack ... wheeze, limp ... quack ...

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