Not rated yet!
Oliver Stone
2 h 11 min
Release Date
17 October 2008
Drama, History
Whether you love him or hate him, there is no question that George W. Bush is one of the most controversial public figures in recent memory. W takes viewers through Bush’s eventful life -- his struggles and triumphs, how he found both his wife and his faith, and of course the critical days leading up to Bush’s decision to invade Iraq.
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Kyle Smith7
National Review

(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Review: "W."
    Schlocky and Awful Kyle Smith review of “W.” O.5 stars/ 4 131 minutes/Rated PG-13 ——— Half “Hee-Haw” and half “Dr. Strangelove,” Oliver Stone’s would-be comedy “W.,” is not quite what I expected. It’s worse. Stone, who has been wearing out his vocal cords informing interviewers of his vast empathy for his onetime Yale classmate (the two never met on campus), plays the invasion of Iraq against “Yellow Rose of Texas,” devotes nearly half the movie to scene after scene showing Bush stumbling around with a beer bottle or a tumbler of Jack Daniels, and imagines that, behind the scenes, the tightly controlled Yankee-hardened Bush clan of stoics carries on like a bunch of overwrought “Project Runway” contestants. Among the film’s most literally incredible moments are those that show President George H.W. Bush (Bush 41), played by James Cromwell without the slightest effort to resemble the man, being decisive, authoritative, forceful, and even manly, qualities he managed to keep under wraps during three decades in the public eye. Playing the title role, Josh Brolin misreads the president’s stiff, just got-off-a-horse body language as a reason to stay in motion at all times, notably during his initial encounter with Laura (Elizabeth Banks, who gives the only restrained performance) at a barbecue. Here and elsewhere W.’s body flits around as if he’s undergoing shock therapy; here and elsewhere, W. speaks, disgustingly, with his mouth open as if he just blew in from the trailer park instead of Skull and Bones. One speech Bush delivers while seated on the toilet (where, at a mention of the presidency of another filial success, John Quincy Adams, he says, “That was, like, 300 years ago, wuddn’t it?”). On his inauguration day, he stumbles to greet his father with his pants around his ankles. This isn’t cutting-edge political satire or even wounding invective; it’s just vaudeville. Stone jumps around in time, combining remarks made years apart for alleged comic effect (during a campaign for governor of Texas, many famous malapropisms come out, but consecutively, as though nothing Bush says ever makes sense) as Bush evolves from frat-boy to frat-boy businessman to frat-boy governor to frat-boy president. The president’s arms fly up as though signaling a field goal during the centerpiece moment, in which the president and his cabinet discuss the Iraq invasion. (Jeffrey Wright, speaking in some sort of Redd Foxx rumble, is Colin Powell; a twittering Thandie Newton is Condi Rice; Scott Glenn is Rumsfeld and a well-made-up Richard Dreyfuss, hunched over as though tying his shoelaces, is Cheney, though Dreyfuss’ high-pitched nasal whine is more or less the opposite of Cheney’s low rasp.) That scene, featuring unlikely moments of sorority-girl sarcasm such as Colin Powell telling Cheney, “Don’t patronize me, Mr. Five Deferments,” is pitched at a JFK level of paranoia, with Cheney insisting that the U.S. must control the entire Middle East, forever. While standing literally in the shadows he barks, “Control Iran, control Eurasia, control the world. Empire. Real empire. No one will f — k with us again.” All such attempts at unveiling an alternative history of the last eight years, though, are undercut by the film’s reliance on cheap gags and forced goofiness; seconds after Dreyfuss’ Satanic moment, the president sounds like Henry Blake on “M*A*S*H,” saying, “We’re not sure who they are, but they’re there.” Gear changes clang like this throughout; Stone wants to be thought of as both commentator and a comic, but he isn’t Stanley Kubrick and his many ironic uses of campy songs à la Strangelove are trite, repetitive and obvious. Stone and his cast plainly don’t understand George W. Bush so they (again — I except Banks, who seems to be in a completely different and better movie — settle for a two-hour “Saturday Night Live” sketch that skims every surface. Stone still cannot fathom how Bush won four huge elections, thrice bested the man universally acknowledged to be the country’s best debater in 2000 and inspired millions in (to cite a few examples) his speech atop the rubble at the World Trade Center, his Convention address in 2004 and in his second inaugural in 2005. Astonishing but true: Stone simply skips over all of these signature moments because they don’t fit Stone’s one joke about a bumbler who drifted to the top and destroyed the world. To put it another way: the film does not show the courageous choice to launch the Surge and the way it succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams, but does show the pretzel-choking incident, during which the president is shown wearing a novelty T-shirt with a dog on it. Except for (perhaps) a scene in which Bush is shown breaking down and praying for salvation, there is not a single moment that shows any reason why anyone would support such an imbecile; in its determined omissions, it’s a bigger insult to the 62 million who voted for Bush than to the man himself.]]>
    (Review Source)
  • More on Oliver Stone's "W."
    You know that little gesture President Bush occasionally uses, the backs-of-hands out, “if I were pregnant my tummy would come out this far” gesture? Josh Brolin uses it about every four seconds in the Bush movie “W.” What’s wrong with a little caricature? Nothing. Except a caricature is a one-panel cartoon you glance at in the newspaper, not a 130-minute movie. After eight years of “Saturday Night Live” sketches and Daily Show lampooning and komedy klub routines, there isn’t a whole lot about President Bush that hasn’t been satirized, by skilled comics. Stone has nothing new to say and he has a weirdly inept cast to say it for him. Josh Brolin’s mimicry (for that is exactly what it is; it is not acting) is not in the same league as, say, Will Ferrell’s; to put it another way, “W.” is a comedy with very few laughs. Bush haters may snicker, but then again: They snicker when they watch him give a press conference. So where’s the value added? “W.” is consistent, though: it gets the little things and the big stuff equally wrong. For the big picture, look no further than the centerpiece of the film, in which Dick Cheney, evidently with the president’s blessing, says the U.S. must occupy large chunks of the middle east, forever, in order to establish a new empire, or the scene in which Tony Blair (!) is shown to be a hesitant supporter of the Iraq invasion who has to be cajoled into it by a hectoring president. How and why would the prime minister of the United Kingdom think it was vital to do whatever the president tells him? The movie doesn’t show W issuing a threat and doesn’t show him making any kind of convincing case. Quite the opposite: through Blair’s eyes in the movie, the president is evidently an unstable imbecile whose policies should be fled from. Or take “Poppy,” a nickname W uses for his father throughout the film and which no one else, apparently, is allowed to use. Stone brags that he has read all of the major Bush books, but how is it that he doesn’t know what averagely well-informed citizens have known for more than two decades: That “Poppy” was a name attached to George Herbert Walker Bush in childhood? His Yale teammates called him “Poppy.” Indeed, I wonder if Dubya is one of the few people who doesn’t call Bush 41 “Poppy.” And why does Stone take pains to establish, in a title, that it is “1990” when George W. Bush says he regrets trading Sammy Sosa from the Texas Rangers? As any casual baseball fan knows, Sosa, who hit .233 that year, did not become a star player until years later, which is when W joked that he regretted trading him. And every football fan knows that the pretzel-choking incident took place while the president was watching an NFL playoff game, not the Cotton Bowl as shown here. This kind of detail wouldn’t matter at all if the film were being released in 2108 but: these facts were in all the newspapers just a few years ago. Every time Stone gets something wrong, he reminds you that we’re watching a fabrication, and his ineptitude keeps taking you out of the film. Why is the snacking mishap even in “W.”? As I understand it, the logic is this: only a moron would ever ingest food in such a way as to send a morsel down the wrong tube, thus the incident shows the president is a moron, thus it’s important enough to include in biography of 50-odd years in a man’s life. Again: it’s the logic of the sketch writer, not the biographer. And the repeated dream scenes in which the president bumbles around a ballfield in an empty stadium, pitching and catching fly balls at the wall, don’t even qualify as commentary. They’re more evidence of the helter-skelter, throw-anything-in- there sensibility Stone has always battled with, as random as the scenes of “Ben-Hur” tossed into “Any Given Sunday.” Did the cabinet discussing the invasion of Iraq really lob sarcastic insults at one another like the cast of an MTV reality show? Did Bush and his senior staffers really get lost and confused as he walked them around his own ranch while discussing the war? Did the patrician, Yankee-tough Bush clan really carry on like a bunch of Sicilian widows whenever the cameras were turned off? Showing Bush 41 as a figure of almost George Patton-like severity, toughness and authority may be necessary for Stone to make some feeble Oedipal point, but it isn’t even close to convincing, and James Cromwell both so little resembles George Herbert Walker Bush and makes so little effort to mirror the former president’s speech or mannerisms that you have to keep reminding yourself who Cromwell is supposed to be. At the same time, showing Bush 41 bursting into tears when he is defeated in 1992 is also a bit much. Stone simply does not understand this family, its discipline, how it became the most important dynasty in American history. They didn’t get to the top by mewling and bumbling. Stone would argue, I think, that his silly distortions are there for satiric reasons–he probably hopes the movie will be compared to “Dr. Strangelove,” but switching smoothly back and forth between broad comedy and serious history is a skill that eludes him–or that they play in service of a larger truth. The larger truth, though, is precisely what eludes him: If W is such an ignoramus, how did he get himself elected four times? How did he best the transgalactically popular Ann Richards in Texas, wrest the White House from a formidable vice president who was credited with eight of the most tranquil and prosperous years in the nation’s history, and get more votes than any other politician in US history in 2004? Stone winds the movie up by showing the president isolated, daffy and clueless, overcome by the weight of his own folly, but that is the opposite of what happened. Steadfast and determined in the face of advice to the contrary from all of polite society and even many in his inner circle, President George W. Bush bore down, gritted his teeth and climbed the mountain. It is solely because of his courage that Iraq stands on the brink of victory, and that country will lapse into catastrophe only if the next president is too unwise or too foolish to build on a policy whose success now rests unquestioned even by its most prominent opponent.]]>
    (Review Source)
  • The W. Trailer Is Up
    Dancing girls, drinking, drunken driving and Yale partying: It’s Fast Times with George W. Bush! See the trailer for the upcoming Oliver Stone film, “W.,” which looks like a guaranteed flop, filled as it appears to be with histrionics and unconvincing makeup. Is there any person in America who feels he has not yet received enough information about President Bush? UPDATE: Lou wonders if the trailer was redacted so as to be less harsh–not to the Bush family, of course, but to the Kennedys, with whom the Bushes are compared. Let’s see, Kennedy family vs. Bushes….who has more things in their past that they would rather not discuss? ]]>
    (Review Source)
  • "W." To Generate Zzzzs at Box Office
    From Dirty Harry: High-end estimates have the $55 million picture “W.” grossing $12 million this weekend, or maybe as low as $5 million. I can’t picture it cracking $10 million but I expect it will do well in France, where politics and entertainment don’t have the same division they do here. (Picture an entire country with the same taste as New York City.) The film really is only pitched to the most liberal one-fourth of the country, and even in that sector, I expect more people are tired of President Bush than eager to razz him with the kinds of sketches that they can see for free on the Daily Show or “SNL.” Word of mouth is going to be poor also, because the film largely avoids spinning outrageous conspiracy theories like “Fahrenheit 9/11,” a movie that, I remind you, implies that the Bush administration knew about or carried out 9/11 because its approval ratings were falling and it needed something to bring them back up.]]>
    (Review Source)
  • "W." Is For Widiculous
    What to say about the inane, deceitful, blundering, obvious, repetitive two-hour “Saturday Night Live” sketch that is Oliver Stone’s Bush movie “W” except that it’s exactly what I expected? The “heavily-researched” movie, which was wisely withheld from many critics until nearly the last possible moment, completely mangles the basic facts–from Tony Blair’s support of the Iraq invasion (enthusiastic, not coerced) on down to basic biographical stuff known to millions of casual newspaper readers–in pursuit of a “Hee-Haw” meets “Dr. Strangelove” would-be satire in which “Yellow Rose of Texas” plays over the invasion of Iraq. I’ll have a few thousand words to say on the matter, but first I have to eat lunch and see “Max Payne.”]]>
    (Review Source)
  • Oliver Stone, Comedian
    A USA Today writer who has seen 1/3 of Oliver Stone’s George W. Bush movie “W.” says…..it’s a comedy. Color me skeptical that a self-righteous 62-year-old polemicist is suddenly going to be revealed as a great wit. Far down, the story quotes me, which reminds me: Journos, I am available to spew colorful commentary on nearly any subject! Meanwhile, the New York Observer is predicting “W.” will be the funniest movie of the season. Nah. Surely that title will go to “Nights in Rodanthe” or maybe “Miracle at St. Anna”?]]>
    (Review Source)
  • Me Vs. the Field (Warning: Manifesto)
    Since the Right Honorable Hunter Tremayne makes the same argument every month or so when I disagree with the consensus on some high-profile movie or other, I will take a few moments to demolish his logic and save him the trouble of repeating his case next time around. (His current point is that “W.” has a high approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, ergo I must be wrong not to like it. He obviously has already decided to like it; I find it very strange how common this is, how often people who haven’t seen movie X or Y tell me my opinion about it is wrong. I call this “Cloverfield” syndrome. I got about 50 nasty comments about how wrong I was about it before it opened, and pretty much zilch after it opened.) A word about Rotten Tomatoes. It is a useful site. It will become apparent to anyone who looks at it very often that the standards for becoming a listed critic are vanishingly low. It is fair to say that most of the people who post reviews there do not make their living as critics, or as writers. I suspect most users know this and ignore all reviews except those written by the top critics, i.e. people who have at least managed to sucker someone into paying us for our commentary. I don’t claim that the mass of RT opinions are without value, but they are, in the main, not terribly interesting, witty, entertaining, surprising, original, or skillful. The opinions, in the aggregate, more or less represent the standard mindest of a wide swath of John Q. Public. Maybe not the public as a whole, but you might think of the RT index as representing roughly what the more culturally involved half or quarter of the country thinks about a given film. Let me put it another way: “Shakespeare in Love” enjoys a 93 percent approval rating on RT. I loathed this movie, thought it to be a steaming pile of cine-merde. I said so at the time, say so now, and will continue to say so whenever the subject arises. I believe history has vindicated my judgment, but then again: so what? It is not my job to convey what anyone else believes or will come to believe. I give you my opinion. Do with it what you will. There is no such thing as a “correct” opinion on a given movie. I strive to make my reviews entertaining and even provocative to read so I hope I don’t waste your time regardless of whether you feel I am “right.” Hunter, by shouting from the rooftops to warn the citizenry every time I am at variance with the RT index, implies that it should be my goal to encapsulate what the RT index has to say. If a film is getting 88 percent favorable ratings, then, I would deliver an absolutely perfect review if I awarded it 3 1/2 stars out of 4, which is 88 points out of 100. But why, then, would you need my opinion? If I’m saying what the RT index is saying every time, I am not a perfect critic but a perfectly useless critic since I am the very barometer of conventional wisdom. I am not surprising, I am not original, and you can save time by simply glancing at the RT index instead of investing the four minutes, or whatever it takes, to make it through one of my reviews. I have a political point of view and it colors the way I see movies. But then again, everyone has a political point of view, and it colors the way they see movies. I believe being transparent gives me an advantage over those who claim to be neutral but obviously are not. (By the way, I find a lot of left-wing movies to be brilliant, from “Apocalypse Now” and the Kubrick oeuvre on down. Since most movies that take a political stance are left-wing, you probably shouldn’t be reviewing them if you declare them automatically infra dig.) If you want to efficiently obtain some sense of what points of contention might be on a political film such as “W.,” you can do so quite easily. First, read some major critic’s point of view on a given movie (virtually all of the ones who write for mass-market publications are left-leaning, as far as I can tell), then read mine. Two reviews, and you’re covered. (And if you can’t stand my writing in the first place, Christian Toto, John “Dirty Harry” Nolte, John Podhoretz of The Weekly Standard and Ross Douthat of The National Review are others who take a conservative line.)]]>
    (Review Source)

PJ Media Staff4
PJ Media

(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • W. Is an Insult to 62 Million Voters
    PJ Media Half Hee-Haw and half Dr. Strangelove, Oliver Stone’s would-be comedy W., opening tomorrow, is not quite what I expected. It’s worse.Stone, who has been wearing out his vocal cords informing interviewers of his vast empathy for his onetime Yale classmate (the two never met on campus), plays the invasion of Iraq against “Yellow Rose of Texas,” devotes nearly half the movie to scene after scene showing Bush stumbling around with a beer bottle or a tumbler of Jack Daniels, and imagines that, behind the scenes, the tightly controlled Yankee-hardened Bush clan of stoics carries on like a bunch of overwrought Project Runway contestants.Among the film’s most literally incredible moments are those that show President George H.W. Bush (Bush 41), played by James Cromwell without the slightest effort to resemble the man, being decisive, authoritative, forceful, and even manly, qualities he managed to keep under wraps during three decades in the public eye. Playing the title role, Josh Brolin misreads the president’s stiff, just got-off-a-horse body language as a reason to stay in motion at all times, notably during his initial encounter with Laura (Elizabeth Banks, who gives the only restrained performance) at a barbecue. Here and elsewhere W.’s body flits around as if he’s undergoing shock therapy; here and elsewhere, W. speaks, disgustingly, with his mouth open as if he just blew in from the trailer park instead of Skull and Bones.One speech Bush delivers while seated on the toilet (where, at a mention of the presidency of another filial success, John Quincy Adams, he says, “That was, like, 300 years ago, wuddn’t it?"). On his inauguration day, he stumbles to greet his father with his pants around his ankles. This isn’t cutting-edge political satire or even wounding invective; it’s just vaudeville.Stone jumps around in time, combining remarks made years apart for alleged comic effect (during a campaign for governor of Texas, many famous malapropisms come out, but consecutively, as though nothing Bush says ever makes sense) as Bush evolves from frat-boy to frat-boy businessman to frat-boy governor to frat-boy president. The president’s arms fly up as though signaling a field goal during the centerpiece moment, in which the president and his cabinet discuss the Iraq invasion. (Jeffrey Wright, speaking in some sort of Redd Foxx rumble, is Colin Powell; a twittering Thandie Newton is Condi Rice; Scott Glenn is Rumsfeld and a well-made-up Richard Dreyfuss, hunched over as though tying his shoelaces, is Cheney, though Dreyfuss’ high-pitched nasal whine is more or less the opposite of Cheney’s low rasp.) That scene, featuring unlikely moments of sorority-girl sarcasm such as Colin Powell telling Cheney, “Don’t patronize me, Mr. Five Deferments,” is pitched at a JFK level of paranoia, with Cheney insisting that the U.S. must control the entire Middle East, forever. While standing literally in the shadows he barks, “Control Iran, control Eurasia, control the world. Empire. Real empire. No one will f — k with us again.” class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/blog/w-is-an-insult-to-62-million-voters/ previous Page 1 of 2 next   ]]>
    (Review Source)
  • Political Movies: It's the Quality, Stupid
    PJ Media When I was a young screenwriter in Hollywood, I remember producers telling me you couldn’t make a baseball movie. They didn’t sell. Then along came Bull Durham and all anybody wanted for a while were baseball flicks.Political movies have been similarly reviled. Not commercial. Samuel Goldwyn famously said: "Pictures are for entertainment. Messages should be sent by Western Union." Really? Hollywood and others have made numerous political films that were critical and commercial successes from Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and Judgment at Nuremberg to Battle of Algiers and Z. The Lives of Others -- the 2007 Oscar winner for best foreign language film about life in East Germany under the Stasi -- is to my mind the finest filmmaking of any kind in this century so far.Now we come to W. and An American Carol -- the political movies of the hour. (I am not writing here of documentaries, but feature fiction films.) Both were made quickly in an attempt to influence the election and have a rushed, slapdash quality about them, so they have about as much of a chance of influencing that election as a bad episode of Geraldo. But that is the least of their problems. They are both abysmal movies in almost every way.I feel badly writing that about An American Carol because its director David Zucker and co-screenwriter Myrna Sokoloff are terrific people and I very much wanted for their movie to work for admittedly political reasons. Almost no “conservative” films are made by the movie industry and when one slips through you root for it fiercely, so I waited until the film mercifully disappeared from the marketplace before making this opinion known. But I think it is important that negative “inside” opinions be known; because if there is one thing that is bad for conservative filmmaking in general, it is to make bad films. Because of the bias, they have to be better than the liberal ones. Furthermore, dwelling on being “victims” of Hollywood by conservative filmmakers is a surefire prescription for continued failure, just as it is for other minority groups. To applaud this kind of filmmaking is to applaud affirmative action for conservatives. Not good.What’s fascinating about W. and An American Carol is they both suffer from the same basic failure -- the underestimation or “misunderestimation,” in the parlance, of their protagonists. In their film parody of Michael Moore, Zucker and Sokoloff give us a Moore (the movie’s Michael Malone) who is a self-centered dolt who overeats. Self-centered? Of course. Overeater? Obviously. But dolt? I am not so sure -- at least not to the degree the filmmakers want us to believe. I am no fan of Moore’s by a long shot, but nowhere in evidence in this movie is the crafty, ambitious weasel who was able to turn his own mediocre film talent into box office magic and, for a while at least, massive political influence. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/blog/political-movies-its-the-quality-stupid/ previous Page 1 of 2 next   ]]>
    (Review Source)
  • 10 Tinseltown Turkeys That Make Real Men Choke
    Lifestyle var dataLayer = window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'videoName': 'plan 9 from outer space (trailer)', 'videoType': 'Curated' }); Sometimes Hollywood serves up some pretty indigestible fare. Some films, such as Howard the Duck (1986), are impossible to swallow—so terrible they become synonymous with “bad cinema.” (Who can forget Gary Larson’s The Far Side cartoon depicting "Hell's Video Store," its shelves stocked solely with copies of Ishtar (1987)?)But not every bomb reaches such heights of notoriety.  Here’s a list of movies that are every bit as bad—and leave “real men” with extra heartburn. They degrade the genres that “real men” love best.10. Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)All right, this utterly dreadful sci-fi schlock is, admittedly, no stranger to lists of worst movies ever. And justifiably so. Written, directed and produced by the world's least talented filmmaker, Edward D. Wood, it’s a bijou of awfulness. What twists the knife in this celluloid sacrilege is the sight of Bela Lugosi, one of Hollywood's greatest horror stars, shambling through what was to be his last appearance on the silver screen. Rather than try to sit through this sad excuse for a film, better to watch Tim Burton's engaging biopic Ed Wood (1994), which tells the story behind the movie. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2014/11/27/10-tinseltown-turkeys-that-make-real-men-choke/ previous Page 1 of 10 next   ]]>
    (Review Source)

Cross Walk

(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Stone's W. Neglects Key Elements of Bush Biography
    Movies DVD Release Date:  February 10, 2009Theatrical Release Date:  October 17, 2008Rating:  PG-13 (for language including sexual references, some alcohol abuse, smoking and brief disturbing war images)Genre:  DramaRun Time:  131 min.Director:  Oliver StoneActors:  Josh Brolin, Jeffrey Wright, Scott Glenn, Richard Dreyfuss, James Cromwell, Thandie Newton, Elizabeth Banks, Ellen Burstyn After years spent as one of the Right’s favorite whipping boys, director Oliver Stone parked his anti-establishment views long enough to make World Trade Center. The film was not universally adored, but among conservatives it was rapturously received. Stone’s heroic depiction of two survivors of the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers on September 11, 2001 avoided political critique of George W. Bush and his administration’s war on terrorism, focusing instead on the men trapped in the rubble. It also lacked any conspiracy theories—a trademark of some of Stone’s best-known films.The filmmaker has now turned his attention to the presidency of George W. Bush in W., written (screenwriter Stanley Weiser also wrote the screenplay for Stone’s Wall Street) well before the completion of Bush’s second term, and rushed into release before the end of his time in office. The perils of such an approach are evident in this entertaining but unresolved account of the life and presidency of George W. Bush. If there’s a conspiracy theory in W., it has to do with the motive for going to war: Did we wage a war for oil? Yes, we did, the film suggests. The strongest proponent of this view in the movie is Dick Cheney (Richard Dreyfuss), who, in a key speech to Bush’s inner circle, says that oil reserves in Iraq and Iran hold the key to the future of the United States as a superpower. Dreyfuss’ Cheney is the film’s most powerful villain, coldly arguing for an expansion of presidential power during wartime. Asked about an exit strategy from Iraq, Cheney declares, ominously, “There is no exit. We stay.”Karl Rove (Toby Jones) is a villain of a different sort—a political operative who finds a way to finesse Bush’s political weaknesses and turn them into strengths. Rove is central to the film’s view of politics and religion. He tries to persuade Bush the elder to speak in terms that Evangelicals can relate to, but Bush Sr. stands firm, refusing Rove’s efforts to call himself “born again” or to offer any semblance of language Rove might use to convince voters that he’s something other than what he is. Later, Bush Sr. will watch and wonder at his loss to Bill Clinton, who used religious language to court “values voters.”W. also focuses on the debates within the George W. Bush administration about its response to Sept. 11. Cheney is concerned most of all with the nation’s safety, and with preventing another attack on the country. He explains his “one percent doctrine” (explained in a book of the same name by Bush critic Ron Suskind) to Bush over lunch, using the lettuce in Bush’s sandwich as an example: If there were only a one percent chance that the lettuce had e-coli and would kill him, would Bush still eat the sandwich? No, Bush replies. Neither would most people, Cheney contends. How much more important, then, to prevent even a one-percent chance that nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction fall into the wrong hands. The film’s most sympathetic character is Secretary of State Colin Powell (Jeffrey Wright), who challenges overconfident Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (Scott Glenn) at every step during the buildup to the invasion. But the film’s sympathy for Powell disappears when he backs the administration’s case for war. Beyond the debate about the war, Stone is also interested in what makes George W. Bush tick, and here he leans heavily on a father-son story between Bush and his father. Stone’s film shows the elder Bush disapproving of his son’s rowdy behavior for much of his adult life, and casting a long shadow over the son’s hopes and ambitions.The acting— especially Josh Brolin’s performance in the title role—is the greatest strength of W. Wright, as Powell, steals every scene he’s in. James Cromwell’s performance as George H.W. Bush displays the gravitas that the son lacks, while Ellen Burstyn has a few revealing moments as Barbara Bush. The film’s only bad performance comes from Thandie Newton as Condoleezza Rice. She gets Rice’s voice down but none of her poise.If the acting is the film’s greatest strength, its biggest drawback is what it leaves out. It includes no footage of Sept. 11, nor anything about the dismissal of Donald Rumsfeld, the troop surge in Iraq or the administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina. As Bush Sr. watches the 1992 election returns and wonders why the first Gulf War didn’t carry him to a second term, we hear no mention of the breaking of his “no new taxes” promise made prior to his election in 1988. Also lacking in the film is a real-life spiritual mentor for George W. Bush. Bush has named the Reverend Billy Graham as a pivotal influence in his life—the man who planted a seed of faith within Bush’s heart—but that account has been disputed. Rather than go with one of the competing accounts of who the dominant spiritual influence was upon George W. Bush, the movie settles for a composite figure (Earle Hudd, played by Stacy Keach) who represents various religious leaders in the president’s life.Although Stone has yet to publish an annotated script for W., as he has with some of his previous films, he claims that the movie is based on fact. Several scenes in the film will be familiar to those who have read the parade of insider-account books written by former administration officials, or by those with access to current administration figures. The trouble with this approach is that without the benefit of the passage of time and the opening up of the central players that comes only after a president has left office, the stories and claims that form the basis of much of W. can be questioned. Are they all true? Are they all vendettas by embittered administration officials who left on poor terms? These are the questions that only time—not a movie made while an administration is still governing—can answer. googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-1'); }); if (gptClientWidth >= 992 && gptClientWidth <= 1000000) googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-2'); }); Questions? Concerns? Contact the writer at [email protected]/* ...
    (Review Source)

Andrew Klavan1
PJ Media

(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Hooray For Big Hollywood
    When it comes to deploring the leftist hegemony in Hollywood, I can deplore with the best of them. It stinks that America-bashing and God-bashing and |
    (Review Source)

Counter Currents Staff1
Counter Currents Publishing

(Reviewers' Site/Bio)



  • Oliver Stone’s Snowden
    (”W.” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    [1]3,156 words

    Oliver Stone has quite the track record when it comes to biopics. With three films based on former United States Presidents (JFK, Nixon, and W.), and an additional feature about the man who is arguably the most influential leader in the history of Western Civilization (Alexander) he is no stranger to the complexity of the human spirit caught in flight between the firmament of absolute truth and the gravity of the world as it is, with mankind’s jealousy and corruption dragging down the state. These men all stood on the precipice of a great decline – a potential implosion of their societies – and in their own respective ways tried to arrest the decay and abuses they saw eating at their populations.

    So too, Snowden. The character studies his previous films became have been criticized by some for being sympathetic. But for his own part, Stone has insisted sympathy was never his goal. In an industry that has relied on the formula of the Hero’s Journey, Oliver Stone has attempted many times to break the mold and create a fresh perspective for informed audiences of his historical dramas. With Snowden we finally watch this alternate narrative truly flourish. The audience isn’t left loving or hating Edward. Instead we gain an understanding of the weight of this man’s convictions. This understanding forces the viewer to question himself and in that way develop empathy for the subject. Could you stand against the great beast? How would you endure, not knowing if you’d be destroyed by a seemingly all-powerful super state or exonerated by the people it was supposed to protect?

    During a recent interview at the Harvard Institute of Politics [2], Stone told Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind that he initially had turned down the option to make the film. It’s not usually a good investment to tell the story of someone who is still making headlines. The potential to be blindsided by some startling and unforeseen revelation is too great, in which case the integrity of the film you’ve made is irreparably damaged. It was only after being contacted by Ed Snowden’s Russian lawyer – who has also authored an untranslated spy novel about a conflicted whistle blower – that Stone began to warm up to the idea. Meeting Snowden in Moscow several times, the director learned there was an opportunity to tell a story that would persuade theater-goers to question both themselves and the government.

    The factual basis for the film comes from Luke Harding’s The Snowden Files. I have to say after spending the last weekend reading the book, Oliver Stone’s adaption of the text was responsible and accurate. Edward Snowden was Right-wing. A Ron Paul libertarian who kept a pocket-sized copy of the United States Constitution on his desk when contracted to the NSA, so as to wave it around whenever the case needed to be made that his employers were violating both his own ethical standards and the letter of the law. This tendency to champion principled stances may garner sympathy from a curious onlooker of the Snowden case, but did nothing to ingratiate him to his former employers. In one such case bad blood between him and a superior resulted in a disciplinary action that went on his permanent record. Surely this kind of experience contributed to his disillusion with the agencies he worked for (of which there were many).

    I can’t help but take some issue with the casting. The roles of Edward Snowden and girlfriend of ten years Lindsay Mills are both performed by Jewish leads. Shailene Woodley is entirely too Semitic-looking to portray Mills. In reality Edward Snowden’s girlfriend was a wonderful example of white feminine beauty. Woodley on the other hand is yet one more sorry attempt at crypsis. Her inability to convincingly portray the beauty of her character is in stark contrast to her co-star immersing himself in the speech, nervous tics, and body language of Edward Snowden.

    I’ve been a fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt since he began working with Christopher Nolan (Inception and Dark Knight Rises). It was after viewing those films I sought out some of his early work. One of the most notable attributes that I’ve seen him employ in Looper (2012), Don Jon (2013), and The Walk (2015) is his skilled voice acting. The man has “presence” whether sitting down or standing in a somewhat aloof manner (as in the movie poster pictured above). There are moments captured in the film – from an angle, under the right lighting – where Gordon-Levitt looks convincingly like Snowden. But he consistently sounds like Snowden. His ability to affect the voice while having an argument with girlfriend that builds gradually in both decibel level and emotional intensity shows his command of this precious gift of mimicry. Though it may seem out of place for a nationalist to give such praise of a Jewish actor, my own standard of measurement is the ability to create an authentic representation of the subject’s identity. There are not many Jews I care to see playing whites. Far too many are paid to do so. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of the few I make an exception for, and only because I’ve seen him do such an excellent job in other films.

    Snowden is a dramatization of events in its subject’s life and around the globe between 2004 and 2013. The film follows Edward Snowden’s trials and tribulations leading up to his decision to leak classified documents about the massive surveillance state that has been built under and around a sometimes scared, sometimes complacent American populace. The revelation that cellphone service providers and manufacturers were colluding with that surveillance state is at the heart of this betrayal of American liberties. Well-paced, it shows the struggle of coping with his washout from military boot camp. The early rumblings of his defiant nature become apparent as he walks away from the intelligence community for a little while, trying to find some kind of normal. To be happy. To drink the nepenthe of social assimilation. To no avail . . .

    The opening familiarizes us with the now-famous meeting under the plastic alligator between Snowden and the investigative team of Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, the latter of whom shot the Academy Award-winning documentary Citizenfour (2015). Snowden shows eventually with his totem – a Rubik’s cube – in hand. He looks unassuming. The two journalists would later admit that they had expected someone much older. What follows is a dramatic re-enactment of the filming of Citizenfour with accompanying flashbacks that inform the audience of what took place leading up to Edward Snowden’s fateful act of disseminating classified documents to the news.

    Snowden worked as a contractor for the NSA and CIA. He also worked directly as a system engineer and later senior adviser to the CIA. It is at the CIA training center in Virginia that he meets the character of Hank Forrester, a reformer turned basement dwelling guidance counselor for new recruits. Later in the film, Forrester recounts the story of his own exile to this subterranean office as a result of filing complaints about the agency’s overreach in domestic surveillance.

    The character of Forrester is played by Nicholas Cage and seems to be inspired by real life NSA code breaker and whistle blower William Binney. Binney is a veteran US intelligence official with over thirty years of experience. In Poitras’ documentary Binney explains how he built Stellarwind, the favored program for domestic spying post-September 11. What both Poitras in in Citizenfour and Stone — through the character of Forrester — omit is that Binney was a fan of Snowden’s leaks up to and until he revealed the IP addresses of targets hacked in China and Hong Kong. Expressing concern that those operational details were revealed, Binney is quoted by USA Today that Snowden “is going a bit to far” and “is transitioning from whiteblower to traitor.” [3] For his part Binney has continued to speak out against the NSA spying on and profiling the public, and has been a critic of the abuses committed by both the Bush and Obama administrations.

    Leaving Forrester to his devices (dusting off unbroken WWII machines used for cryptography), Snowden reports for an aptitude test where he and his class are warned that “the next nine eleven will be your fault.” He blows away the competition, finishing the task asked of him hours before anyone else.

    Having never finished high school and attended only sporadic courses at community college, Edward is seemingly an autodidact. He spent time developing his own libertarian perspectives and posting on the hip techie site Ars Technica. A creature of the silicon revolution, Snowden meets his girlfriend Lindsay Mills at an internet cafe. She’s a liberal photographer and dance instructor whose parents had also worked for the government. She giggles at Snowden’s throwaway line that he “works for the State Department.”

    As Snowden’s training evolves, the fundamental ethical questions are reviewed in class, and learns about FISA courts. Told that FISA served to classify court-issued warrants for spying as to not alert the subjects that are being monitored, he reconciles his libertarian inspired reservations to the government abrogation of the fourth amendment protection against search and seizure. In a scene where he returns for a chat with Forrester he listens to the veteran expressed cynicism, claiming “what really sets the agenda is Military Industrial Happiness Management.” In other words: keep the money flowing.

    Returning to that Hong Kong hotel room in 2013, the group is joined by Ewan MacAskill — a Scottish writer who became DC Bureau Chief at the Guardian. Snowden’s intentions are now subject to inquiry. Why do this publicly? He assures them he is not out for money. Public exposure is required for his own safety, to avoid rendition.

    But one must still ask why Snowden did this at all. Snowden isn’t a narcissist. He was a Ron Paul libertarian. Someone who believed in self-reliance, self-education, and personal freedom. The man who loved the constitution so much he kept a copy of it on his desk when worked at the NSA. He loved hacking. The only gun he owned was a Walther P22, and he loved that too [4]. He tried to go into special force, and would have loved it as well if the seriousness of his injuries hadn’t taken him out of training. He was a man in love with the quest. The type of man who rose to the occasion when challenged. He had been deployed for field work in Switzerland, given diplomatic cover to work with CIA field agents and maintain their computer security network. This was where he was given a derogatory performance report as a result of office politics. He had demonstrated to his immediate supervisor that one of their websites could be hacked, but was then reprimanded by that man’s superior. The bad blood had stemmed from a petty email spat between Snowden and his superior. Snowden had been keen for a promotion and challenged the man’s judgment (The Snowden Files, 22).

    This was a time of disillusion. It was also in Geneva that he learns of the full extent of US government intrusion into the lives of others. Finally an incident with a Swiss banker eroded any remaining faith (The Snowden Files, 22). In the film this is depicted as an Indian banker whose daughter tries to overdose on sleeping pills after her Turkish boyfriend is deported form the country. The physical removal of which is thanks to the hacking skills of his team. An open look into the private social media correspondence revealed how in love she was, and with a few keystrokes more they learned he and his mother had overstayed their visas. But in the film this all seems to be geared at tugging the strings of a bleeding heart. Two white men manipulate this poor immigrant into drinking away his sorrows and then put him in a car and call the police — setting him up for a criminal charge after gaslighting his daughter into a suicide attempt.

    The nature of the surveillance is revealed early on. Gone were the selective investigative measures that would reveal correspondence without identity. Anyone remotely connected to a target of inquiry through social media is subject to intense scrutiny and manipulation. I’m reminded of the six degrees of separation. In the film, they demonstrate quite succinctly that three hops from anyone on the internet is everyone else.

    It was there and then he resigned. He tells Lindsay (now his live-in girlfriend) that he’s quitting out of principle. Barack Obama is elected the next year and for the sake of change – just for a moment – he believes in the hope promised by the campaign of the new President-Elect. Like William Binney, he would quickly learn that things would only hit terminal velocity.

    The film returns again to a dark Hong Kong hotel room with Greenwald, Poitras, and MacAskill listening intently to Snowden’s account of the past few years of his life. Joseph Gordon-Levitt moves to the window at the far side of the room. With half of his face in silhouette he becomes Edward Snowden. The light of a taxicab shines through an elevated store sign, and his face is flushed with the red glow. A thousand-yard stare has him peering beyond the Hong Kong skyline, out into the darkness. Back into the world of shadows he’d inhabited and forward into that future he was desperately fighting to avoid. We leave his time and place, here in this midpoint of the film, and open ourselves to a stream of consciousness. We are shown the insidiousness of centralized control over mass communication. No walls. No doors or ceiling. Open nakedness before an unyielding superstate with godlike indifference to your suffering or dignity. Every fault on display is most people’s idea of the Last Judgment.

    The extent of wiretapping and booby trapping the functionality of many allies of the United States begins to unfold, and the cyberwarfare applications put in place are the stuff of Tom Clancy novels. Programs infecting power grids, dams, and hospitals in order to shut down their infrastructure in a matter of keystrokes. An image from space of lights going out suddenly in Japan spreads across the screen. Inside information on every world leader, friend or foe. Trade deals. Scandals. Anything that can be used to gain leverage in global trade and worldwide social control was their true agenda. Terrorism was just the excuse for what they were committing.

    Therein lies the existential crisis of Edward Snowden. Why did this young champion of freedom strive and struggle to ascend into the initiatic order of these new guardians of our God-given rights if only to discover the kingdom was already lost? It had been offered up sacrificially sometime ago.

    Our longing for liberty is Western Man’s Faustian Soul crying out in the spiritual wilderness of America. Who is the pioneer in the twenty-first century? Did we not conquer this land, conquer the seas that surround it, and pioneer its skies? We’ve traveled through space, and we’ve even charted the depths of our own bloodlines through genetics.

    Where then, is the frontier for the untameable white?

    It is the fires kindled in the digital realm that set the world ablaze. All to serve a fraction of elites spreading a mutated globalist form of capitalism, they sought the ability to spread mass panic or exercise social control. The American State seemed to desire the ability to institute either chaos or control pragmatically in its ongoing crusade to centralize power — over economy, speech, home, and body — gorging itself on our liberties and roaming through our lives as a hulking Leviathan. A Grendel. The Surveillance State.

    The film hits its peak at this midpoint. The liberal spin and casting decisions were endurable for this sake. We watch the development of social technology, camera phones, and remote control drones for hobbyists becoming commonplace as the early naughts gives way to the twenty-teens. The character of Snowden is developed further for the audience through his personal struggles with health issues (he’s having epileptic seizures) and the stress brought on by the eavesdropping and hacking of allies, booby trapping their infrastructure, and, of course, the live feeds of drone strikes he has witnessed. The viewer is in this way led to believe his ailment is related to pressure caused by the job, and it very well may have been true.

    Edward prepares himself to leave, escaping with proof of all he has seen copied onto an SD card and hidden in his indispensable Rubik’s cube. It was his favorite 3-D puzzle that would be the pawn that checks the king in the four-dimensional chess match he’d play against the alphabet soup of spyland – NSA, CIA, and GCHQ.

    The last half hour is a soft free-fall through headlines and broadcasts regarding the leaks and his new-found fame, punctuated by the dramatization of his escape from arrest and final asylum in Russia.

    The film has its merits. For a few moments, it really shines. One piece of movie trivia that may interest some is that in Snowden there are several references to spying programs the media has never reported on. Oliver Stone learned of them from Edward Snowden directly.

    Snowden is a liberal-leaning film about a hyper-intelligent member of the Right-wing youth subculture – a gun-loving libertarian whose ethics and worldview are molded by both the Bill of Rights and the Hacker Manifesto [5]. A subculture that serves as an extended phenotype of the white race wherein much of the Alt Right spent biding its time waiting for our movement to congeal. It’s another facet of our white culture that is fertile ground for conversion. Many of the hosts on The Right Stuff Radio Network [6] came from the same milieu. The fourth generational warfare [7] potential of the insider threat [8] should not be lost on any Nationalist watching this film. It disseminates a successful tactic in an easy to swallow form – a “purple pill” for libertarians and constitutionalists. The psychological profile required is of a man that realizes if authority is centralized and it becomes corrupt the most righteous acts of defiance will be anarchic [9]. They will be actions that decentralize authority and collapse institutional power structures under their own critical mass.

    Through his biopic we are granted the opportunity to observe and judge Snowden’s personal integrity. In this way Stone was able to deliver authenticity. Though, I wouldn’t (and didn’t) pay for it. These (((people [10]))) don’t need any more of our money. It’s worth a gander if you can see it for free and valuable if used to nudge someone a little more to the Right. A responsible depiction of a young principled white man with a sense of honor standing up for the truth. In that regard Edward Snowden, the man and his mission, have my personal respect.

    “The greatest freedom that I’ve gained is the fact that I no longer have to worry about what happens tomorrow because I’m happy with what I’ve done today.” — Edward Snowden, 2016



    (Review Source)

VJ Morton1
Right Wing Film Geek

(Reviewers' Site/Bio)
  • Skandies season
    (”W.” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    Skandies season

    We’re now in film-geek awards season. Paul has started going through the awards categories in the Muriels (next year, I fearlessly predict a knockdown drag-out in the 50th anniversary category — NORTH BY NORTHWEST vs. SOME LIKE IT HOT). And in the Skandies poll in which I vote, and which I went to considerable time and expense to see a single eligible film right at deadline, Mike already has reached #12 in the daily countdown.

    In deference to Mike’s oft-expressed wishes, I will not reveal my ballot until after the end of the countdown, when it becomes public anyway.

    But this is what got left on the cutting-room floor — i.e., the performances, scenes, etc. that I short-listed as I put the ballot together and went over my “film seen” list, but got shucked away as I whittled the list in each category down to 10. So these are all thing I *did not* vote for, but was of a mind to at one point. The asterisks indicate the entry was the last one to get eliminated — the #11, as it were.

    Jeff Goldblum, ADAM RESURRECTED — Can’t quite overcome the basic wtf quality of the movie, but does a damn good job trying.
    Jason Statham, THE BANK JOB — Has the charisma and physical presence needed to be a major action star that you can bear to see act (cf, the Rock).
    ** Steve Carell, GET SMART — Actually gave us a Maxwell Smart who was both funny and not a Don Adams clone.
    Jean-Claude Van Damme, JCVD — Nobody else could play this role half as well, and not simply “by definition.”
    Muthana Mohmed, OPERATION FILMMAKER — Forget that this is a documentary; he is playing a role, a self-conscious “selling of himself (or a narrative of his travails)” at every moment.
    Sam Rockwell, SNOW ANGELS — James Reston in F/N was a strident one-note rant compared to this … ahem … strugglingly-religious struggling-drunk.
    Will Poulter, SON OF RAMBOW — The Bad Boy has all the fun in goody-good-good movies, and gives it all back to us.
    Francois Cluzet, TELL NO ONE — Cluzet would have been an ideal Hitchcock leading man — closest to Jon Fitch in FRENZY.
    Mark Ruffalo, WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU — Why did the studio dump this perfectly accessible crime movie, which Ruffalo makes deeper and more-original than it looks (which admittedly isn’t per-se saying much)?

    LEAD FEMALE (weakest category)
    Katherine Heigl, 27 DRESSES — I don’t think I’m thinking with the wrong organ when I say that I couldn’t take my eyes off her.
    Meryl Streep, DOUBT — If you’d toned it down a bit, Meryl, I’d have joined everybody else’s hosannahs.
    ** Kierston Wareing, IT’S A FREE WORLD — Where does Loach find all these terrifically natural actors, and why does he surround them with Laverty’s horrifically contrived scripts?
    Kate Beckinsale, SNOW ANGELS — Stuck in my memory, though I honestly can’t remember why beyond being surprised she could pull off middle-aged unhappiness at all.

    Daniel Mays, THE BANK JOB — Scene-stealing character actors like Mays are what pushes the competent heist-action movie into at least “pretty good.”
    Peter Mullan, BOY A — Not an inauthentic cell in his body, though somewhat limited by the schematic role the script gave him.
    Aaron Eckhart, THE DARK KNIGHT — Ho hum … Eckhart awesome again. Though I thought he was better (careful wording) early on, where he could use his endless supply of oleaginous charm.
    ** Brendan Gleeson, IN BRUGES — The very opposite of Eckhart in every way, but also provided exactly what *his* movie needed — gravitas.
    Raymond Mearns, IT’S A FREE WORLD — Just a couple of scenes, but an unforgettable Glaswegian “character.”
    David Straithairn, MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS — The most “tang” in any character in Wong’s overripe hymn to fruity melon-collie (sorry …)
    James Franco, (speaking of which) PINEAPPLE EXPRESS — I really believe that this dealer would be a man’s best friend.
    Quentin Tarantino, SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO — A horrifically bad actor, but Miike knows how to harness a bad-actor — use him as a kind of self-parodying presence for comedy.
    Tom Cruise, TROPIC THUNDER — A horrifically bad actor, but Stiller knows how to harness a bad-actor — use him as a kind of self-parodying presence for comedy.
    Tom Wilkinson, VALKYRIE — More Wilkinson’s persona and presence than the role, really, but this movie needed some of both.
    Richard Dreyfuss, W. — Easily the “best” performance in the film, but Stone is so all-over-the-map with his actors that I decided that I can’t even really be sure that this is a “good” performance in the film’s context.

    Emma Thompson, BRIDESHEAD REVISITED — Liked this performance less after seeing Claire Bloom in the 11-hour TV series, but Emma simply doesn’t know how to not make you watch her.
    Frances McDormand, BURN AFTER READING — Of course she’s overacting, Mike. In this movie, that’s a problem?
    Tilda Swinton, BURN AFTER READING — But *here* was someone I was astonished to see could comically overact as effectively as McDormand.
    Catinca Untaru, THE FALL — Movie’s very hazy in the memory (I saw it when the GOP controlled Congress), but her naivete and willfulness have stuck with me.
    Anne Hathaway, GET SMART — I don’t suppose it’ll count as giving away my ballot if I say that the “I’ve got her taken care of elsewhere”-factor hurt Hathaway’s chances here.
    ** Karina Fernandez, HAPPY GO-LUCKY — I don’t suppose it’ll count as giving away my ballot if I say that the “I’ve got that movie taken care of elsewhere”-factor hurt Fernandez’s chances.
    Joan Cusack, KIT KITTREDGE — I don’t know if there’s right now an actress who’s better at playing “dotty.”
    Debra Winger, RACHEL GETTING MARRIED — Wished she had more scenes, though I understand why dramatically-speaking, her character couldn’t be around too much.
    Samantha Morton, SYNECHDOCHE, NEW YORK — The only thing I can really say is that I remembered her at all in this meta-mess that pretty much ends my interest in Kaufman.
    Marie-Josee Croze, TELL NO ONE — Can’t say why I liked her without giving away too much, so I’ll just say that she has one of the best acting-faces this side of Liv Ullman (I’ve never seen her and not at least short-listed her).
    Penelope Cruz, VICKY CHRISTINA BARCELONA — Never quite shook the notion that she’s overdoing the “Latin firecracker” bit, but she was such an entertaining firecracker that it hardly matters.
    Rebecca Miller, VICKY CHRISTINA BARCELONA — Never quite shook the notion that she’s overdoing the “repressed stick-in-the-mud” bit, but she was such an effective stick that it hardly matters.
    Ko Hyeon-geong, WOMAN ON THE BEACH — Hard to believe that “the Jennifer Aniston of South Korea” (Theo’s phrase) could be the subtlest actor in the film.

    In case it isn't obvious, this is Canet directing (fellow runnerup) Marie-Josee Croze on the set ... I couldn't find a pic of him writing with partner Philippe Lefebvre.

    J. Michael Straczynski, CHANGELING — Actually made a wtf real-life story halfway, not exactly credible, but entertainingly in-credible. Pity about the direction though.
    Emmanuel Bourdieu and Arnaud Desplechin, A CHRISTMAS TALE — Has that let’s-take-everything-in ambition, but the resultant meandering quality somehow avoids coming across as wheel-spinning.
    Mike Leigh, HAPPY GO-LUCKY — Ho hum … loaves, fishes … you know the drill from the world’s greatest writer-who-didn’t-make-a-film-called-MEMENTO. But mikebud … kill the insane dude … seriously.
    Peter Morgan, THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL — Actually made a wtf real-life story halfway, not exactly credible, but entertainingly in-credible. Pity about the direction though. And your damn F/N script from later in the year.
    Eric Rohmer, ROMANCE OF ASTREA AND CELADON — Has an innocence and purity that subsequent reviews made me see, but I still don’t fundamentally get why the film was made at all.
    ** Philippe Lefebvre and Guillaume Canet, TELL NO ONE — Such a strong story that I really regretted shucking away every short-listing I gave the film and wound up giving it no points at all.
    Hong Sang-soo, WOMAN ON THE BEACH — So wildly ambitious in its antecedents (8 1/2 and VERTIGO — a director trying to mould a woman into the perfect leading lady for life) yet still fits within the same Hong patterns

    DIRECTOR (strongest category, I think)
    Christopher Nolan, THE DARK KNIGHT — I’ve a feeling I’ll regret this omission more than any other, perhaps not seeing Nolan’s direction because blinded by his being simply the best scriptwriter in the world (um … spoiler I guess).
    Jacques Rivette, THE DUCHESS OF LANGEAIS — Except maybe for this one, only the second Rivette to really send me. He should make more movies about nuns in my opinion.
    ** Fatih Akin, THE EDGE OF HEAVEN — The script so completely falls apart in Act 3 that it’s a tribute to Akin’s direction that the film still sometimes works (and the memory of the first two acts isn’t tainted too much).
    Tarsem, THE FALL — Yeah, yeah, make fun of me all you want, you hipsterdudes cracking about “perfume commercials.” Giganticism never gets held against Fritz Lang.
    Michael Haneke, FUNNY GAMES — Yep. Haneke doing what he does best in a language he doesn’t speak well, and it’s still not enough for the Top 10. The film’s repetitiveness, in the context of the guy’s career, also hurt its chances.
    Patricia Rozema, KIT KITTREDGE — The biggest surprise of the year for me and the credit goes to Rozema’s restraint and her control of the tricky and unfashionable tone this story needed. Wished I could have found a slot for her.
    Wong Kar-wai, MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS — Yep. Wong doing what he does best in a language he doesn’t speak well, and it’s still not enough for the Top 10. The film’s repetitiveness, in the context of the guy’s career, also hurt its chances.
    Gus Van Sant, PARANOID PARK — Why did I think I would give points to a film I so morally detested? Maybe that question is its own answer.
    Stuart Gordon, STUCK — OK … maybe THIS was the year’s biggest surprise (though word of mouth at TIFF 07 was strong), and like Rozema’s film also a great job of maintaining a tricky tone — here between semi-gore and semi-comedy.

    Interview with Henry Waxman, BIGGER STRONGER FASTER — The guy is such a self-righteous smarm that I was cheering when Bell made him look a fool.
    ** Inside the car, BURN AFTER READING — (vjm goes off to cry somewhere at cutting this howlingly-funny scene that sold me on this film fergood)
    Che at the UN, CHE — Just about the only spark in the film, and also the only moments that aren’t back-of-the-throat treatment, by secular-liberal lights.
    Family history, A CHRISTMAS TALE — As someone who wasn’t a great fan of Desplechin, this early scene’s mixture of whimsy and economical exposition won me over right away.
    The roach game, CJ7 — Wished the film hadn’t gotten all serious, as this scene rivaks LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL in the terms of a “make lemonade” game being used as a comic denial-of-misery.
    First office confrontation, DOUBT — If Steve McQueen had staged this conversation, in a single static take — or maybe two or three, this could have been the scene of the year, in a walk.
    At the convent, THE DUCHESS OF LANGEAIS — The sudden cutting at the end is as shocking and violent as any onscreen-stabbing.
    The Pakistani couple, FROZEN RIVER — Another scene I really regretted having to lose, it’s really the movie’s moral trajectory in miniaturem suspenseful as all hell, and on two different grounds. But Melissa Leo allowed me to make it up.
    Hancock vs. France, HANCOCK — C’mon … you know why I love this scene.
    Flamenco!, HAPPY GO-LUCKY — Whenever I think Leigh should can his actorly one-scene bits like the homeless guy, along comes a masterful scene like this one to remind me how handsomely his gambles often pay off.
    “Bapu Can’t Dance,” JAANE TU YA JAANE NA — Yo, Academy … *here* is AR Rahman at his best (OK … maybe not *very* best, but *way* better).
    Opening scene, JCVD — I agree with Mike … wtf were y’all thinking (see the scene there). Even if JCVD’s 4th-wall scene isn’t cringeworthy, this one is WAY more fun.
    Stuck in windshield, PINEAPPLE EXPRESS — This was a good year for people getting stuck in windshields in my opinion.
    Encounter group, RACHEL GETTING MARRIED — (vjm just goes off to cry again … I so hate the confessional mode that being emotionally involved with a group like this blew me away … maybe my self-conscious aversion to bloc voting hurt it)
    The Stepford breakfast, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD — I don’t care what y’all say … Kate’s mannered Sirkian recitation and gestures *made* this scene.
    Reaching for the cell phone, STUCK — So much drama and suspense turns on (quite literally) the most minute of gestures and the smallest of spaces.
    QT and cooking, SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO — If you’re unsympatico with the film’s whole concept — deliberately mangled recapitulation of Western tropes as pomo-gesture humor … I couldn’t even begin to make the case for this scene.
    Retardation explained, TROPIC THUNDER — (repeat vjm crying drill from above … probably the year’s most memorably quotable scene. And it’s film criticism!! And spot on, too!!!)
    Restaurant confrontation, WOMAN ON THE BEACH — In some ways an even more uncomfortable scene than the confrontation in DOUBT above, because the characters are so self-consciously (making a show of being) “explosive.”

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    February 10, 2009 - Posted by | Skandies

    1 Comment »

    1. I wouldn’t be so sure it’s only a two-horse race for next year’s 50th Anniversary Muriel- I’m guessing we’ve got a good Nouvelle Vague contingent among our ranks, which would make THE 400 BLOWS and BREATHLESS major players in the game. Plus there’s also PICKPOCKET, RIO BRAVO, HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR… you get the idea. Way more going on than in ’58. And the other Anniversary awards- ’84 and ’99- should be interesting too.

      Comment by Paul C. | February 23, 2009 | Reply

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    (Review Source)

The American Conservative Staff1
The American Conservative

(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Oliver Stone vs. the Empire
    (”W.” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Oliver Stone has the same gripe with Barack Obama as he did with George W. Bush—namely, they both stand for American Empire, and he does not. Stone is a three-time Oscar winner, has made over 60 films, including “Platoon,” “Wall Street,” “JFK,” “Nixon,” and “W.”, and is generally regarded as one of the legends of his trade. In his new book and Showtime series, The Untold History Of The United States (co-authored with Professor Peter Kuznick of American University), Stone highlights what he feels are neglected figures and choices in the American journey. In conversation, Oliver Stone is amiable, keeping an open mind to views that differ from his own, but never willing to back down when he thinks you are wrong. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with him at the Soho Grand hotel in New York, where we discussed his new book and series, the difference between Pro-Empire Liberals and Anti-Empire Liberals, uniting the Tea Party and the Occupy movement, which direction our nation will go over the next four years, sex scenes in “Nixon,” and whether Harry Truman was more like George W. Bush or Sarah Palin.   John Buffalo Mailer: When I read Untold History, I get the sense that you are suggesting it was not all that long ago that the country went off track. You start off the Showtime series with the testing of the A-bomb, then go straight through to today. Henry Wallace is one of the standout figures in this book. Had he won the nomination for vice president instead of Truman in ’44, the world would be a very different place. Is it still possible to conceive of America if Wallace had won?   Oliver Stone: I think that’s the whole point of undertaking something like this, which is to show repeated occurrences in which there are pivot points where history could have been different, where the United States could have acted differently. It’s like a baseball player at the plate, bases loaded, and he whiffs it. Strikes out. But as a good pro athlete, you know you can get to the plate again and have another opportunity. That’s the way you have to look at it. So there is not only the Wallace moment, but there is a wonderful moment with Kennedy in ’62 after the Cuban Missile Crisis. Definite moves towards ending the Cold War with Khrushchev. It ends with Kennedy’s assassination. There’s a great moment with Gorbachev in January ’89 with Bush I. He’s being offered the Soviet withdrawal from Eastern Europe, the end of the Cold War. All that fear all those years of Communism, and where was the peace we fought for? Out the window. Who’s our new enemy? Bush said it was the Drug War. The first target is Manuel Noriega in Panama. So Noriega becomes the enemy of the week. We need a better enemy than him, don’t we? So eventually it shifts over to Hussein in Iraq because he invades Kuwait. Which is a great story, we go into it in detail in the book. It’s again, false information that leads to a war, the first Iraq War. Then you have the 2001 moment, 9/11. A band of terrorists does what it does. The band is not that big, but it’s treated by George Bush 43 as if it’s Hitler all over again coming to start World War III. It’s over-hyped. Another huge dose of false intelligence which leads to invading a country, Iraq again. And it’s supported by liberals. And then of course the Obama moment, whether or not to increase the troop levels in Afghanistan. There was great hope that Obama would move off that agenda. Those moments of hope do exist, and they will come back again, I hope, and you’ll live to see them in your lifetime.   JBM: I hope so. But I can’t think of a mainstream political figure like Henry Wallace. The closest I can think of is Ralph Nader.   OS: There seems to be a divide between pro-empire liberals and anti-empire liberals. Think back to the Anti-Imperialist League in Chicago at the turn of the century, the great American liberals, including Mark Twain, turning against the annexation of Cuba and the Philippines, and think of liberals today who really say, “Enough! We need to contract these 800 plus bases we have around the World.” These liberals have to stay committed, but it’s so much harder when they’re attacked by the pro-empire types. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are apparently comfortable with empire, so it’s truly become a bipartisan foreign policy—most Americans now support the concept of being an empire, global policemen with a given right to intervene.   JBM: I would say your book makes a pretty clear argument that Obama is a pro-empire liberal.   OS: Obama has clearly stated we are the indispensable nation. Why? I don’t agree with that. That’s campaign rhetoric saying we are appointed by somebody as indispensable. You’re talking Obama-God. There’s a god that apparently has disposed himself to make us indispensable. I don’t think that Obama is a confrontationalist by nature. I mean, there’s a man who seems to get along and go along, and went far. I do like his strength, but he doesn’t have the character, it seems, to challenge received opinion.   JBM: I’m hard pressed to find another Democratic president who in four years has accomplished more than Obama has.   OS: You can say that. But at the same time, he’s gone along with the national-security state that was established by Bush, and in some ways enhanced it. Which was against all the things he stood for. He was a constitutional lawyer! He didn’t at all enforce what I would consider to be the law. He’s put the president above the law. He continues eavesdropping on a massive level. He continues the concept of illegal detention. Unfortunately, Guantanamo and the various prisons have continued. It’s not a pretty picture of law. By being a Democrat and black, he’s done the worst thing possible: he’s taken what was an exceptional mistake by Bush and turned it into a continual text. It’s going to be harder and harder to turn back. The foundation had been laid; he’s tightening the screws.   JBM: The book reads like a narrative. You’ve succeeded in making it exciting. I could see kids getting turned on to American history through this.   OS: I love history. Today our kids have lower scores in history than they do in math and science, as bad as their math and science scores are! And I think part of the reason is, history to them is boring. And the reason it’s boring is because they already know the story, because it always ends up a Disney movie with the U.S. coming out okay and being good. This is no juicy horror show. Darkness is sanitized out by the country’s education boards scared of political controversy. They cut out daring, challenging history. The Texas school board has a lot of power in this country. So does California, apparently, because they both buy the most textbooks.   JBM: When “Platoon” came out, the effect it had on my generation was that everyone grew up thinking Vietnam was a bad war, that we had no business being there. But the script got flipped when we were attacked by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001. Suddenly the Afghans and Iraqis are the new Vietcong and it’s okay to go invade sovereign countries again, in fact it’s necessary. We’ve now lived through a decade of war, had a generation come up on it, and they don’t seem to see anything wrong with us now moving our troops into the South Pacific and promoting the American Empire there.   OS: We’re basically deploying ships and troops, in Japan and Australia, too, controlling the sea lanes. It’s not about bayonets and guns. What it is, is a commitment to military treaties and alliances, with NATO, with the South Asian nations that may feel threatened by China. It’s easy to feel threatened. Although China is an interesting story, because you can never tell what would happen. China has one base abroad, and yet they’re one of our biggest creditors.   JBM: After reading Untold History, I don’t know if I want to liken Truman to W. or to Sarah Palin.   OS: More to W. because I think he’s the wrong man at the wrong time, with a limited imagination. Very little empathy. I can’t take Palin seriously.   JBM: But no one took Truman seriously until he was suddenly the president of the United States.   OS: That’s true, Truman did get in by appointment. America has gotten Truman all wrong. They have glorified a guy who shouldn’t be glorified. David McCullough has a lot to do with that. He won a Pulitzer Prize for it. It was made into a hit HBO film. As we show in chapter 3, there’s nothing accurate about it and there’s a lot of history left out.   JBM: Can you envision a third party that would be able to unite the Tea Party and Occupy?   OS: And Labor.   JBM: If you could find the party that represents both the Tea Party and the Occupy movement, I think labor would be included, along with well over half the country.   OS: Well, wisdom says you would have to form a third party, and third parties have historic difficulties. Although, Ross Perot came very close, with 17 percent of the vote.   JBM: Michael Bloomberg is an independent. If he ran on his independent party, I imagine he’d make a little more noise than say Ralph Nader, or any of the candidates who ran on the third-party tickets this past election, who I can’t name.   OS: Jill Stein.   JBM: The one. The one who got a little bit of press. Perhaps the Republican Party is ready to restructure on a populist platform.   OS: It’s also possible that the real liberals, the liberals who are anti-empire, will start to come out of the shadows. We have to encourage this. I think a compassionate leader can emerge. Maybe it’s someone who reads the book, sees these movies, believes in them. Believes that there’s another direction for America. JBM: I could see so many movies out of the stories in here. Are you more inspired to make those movies now, or less? Sean Penn as Henry Wallace?   OS: It was so difficult after “Nixon” to do another movie of that nature because it failed at the box office. I love that movie, “Nixon,” though.   JBM: Commercially “Nixon” failed? How about in DVDs?   OS: Over time, yeah, it’s been appreciated. It’s hard to take three hours and 11 minutes of politicking in dark rooms with white people in horrible suits and bad haircuts, and actually make a good movie!   (Laughter)   JBM: And make it sexy.   OS: It’s not sexy.   JBM: There’s one sexy moment.   OS: There is?   JBM: When she hikes up her skirt a little bit…   OS: Ahhh!   JBM: And we wonder, “Is he going to go for it? Is Oliver going to show us Richard Nixon getting down?”   (Laughter)   OS: I did what I wanted to do with my life. But I think Untold History is the best I can do as a dramatist. The Greeks used to consider historians and dramatists as not that far apart. I mean, history—it’s a story. Homer heard about the Trojan War and concocted this history called The Iliad. He was a dramatist. Memory is civilization. It’s the thread of that memory that keeps us together as societies. History is drama. As I said earlier, the history that is taught in school is boring, ’cause they take the juicy parts out.   JBM: Have you ever considered the possibility of running for office?   OS: It’d be interesting to see all the bile and slander pour out. Don’t know if I’d survive it, such things often bring out the worst in human nature. It even to some degree corroded Henry Wallace’s spirit after the 1948 smear campaign, in fact, it can destroy a soul. How did your father react to his Don Quixote quest?   JBM: After my father [Norman Mailer] ran for Mayor of New York, his respect for the stamina of politicians went up significantly. But he was serious about his run. This was no joke to him. He actually thought they were going to win. So he was crushed a little by that defeat. But as he always did, after a day or two, he went back to work and moved on to the next adventure.   OS: Well, your dad was a very strong individual, that I know, no one quite like Norman on those metal legs, yelling at me for rushing him to finish the sequel to “The Castle in the Forest…”   JBM: He was yelling at you because he knew you were right, and he knew he didn’t have time to finish the sequel. Although he did bring research into the hospital with him before he died. But to go back to his campaign, one of the tactics he implemented was to embrace all the controversial things he had done in his life and position them as lessons that had made him a better man. He promoted the notion that his foibles and follies and downright gaffes had imbued him with a profound empathy for just about every kind of person and that his checkered past therefore made him more qualified to hold office, not less. I imagine, were you to run for high office, you would have to embrace a similar set of operating guidelines for the campaign.   OS: Well, certainly there’d be a lot to “get out of the way,” having not or ever having been a puritan. (Laughs) This aspect of marketing yourself is exhausting. But challenges provoke me. A quest like that could consume an entire third act—and only having one left, it’d come at a huge price. This Untold History has already taken a toll. I’d be giving up the chance of writing that one more movie, book, play that we always believe will make the difference. That’s what the third act is always about, isn’t it? Making it all come together in the end. But, thumbs up or down, it’d still be unfinished business. John Buffalo Mailer is a screenwriter, actor, journalist, playwright, and producer. He appears in Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.” ]]>
    (Review Source)

Kelly Jane Torrance1
The Weekly Standard

(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

    Plugged In1
    Focus on the Family

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