Saturday, October 25, 2008

W

Hey, look! It's working for another five minutes or so tonight!

I'm going to say that "W" is worth seeing, though it's really not spectacular or incendiary enough to be any kind of classic. It's basically a re-enactment of "big moments" we all remember hearing about, with acors playing the now-infamous big player parts - think SNL meets downtime at an Oscars telecast.

You've heard by now that the supposed "surprise" is how affectionate the film is toward George W. Bush as a character - displaying an obvious fondness for his black-sheep-made-good origin story and treating his self-willed triumph over alcoholism and Christian re-birth in sincere, non-mocking terms - presenting him as a decent if none-too-bright man who dug way, way, WAY over his head in an attempt to please his father. It's all true, but what seems to be missing is how "fair" Oliver Stone's film plays it with nearly ALL of the main-characters. As it unspools, not only Dubya but also Paul Wolfowitz, Karl Rove (!), George Tenet and especially Collin Powell are the largely-sympathetic "good guys" of the piece while Rumsfeld, Condoleeza Rice and (of course) Dick Cheney are the villians. Rove's defferential presentation is what stood out the most for me - it's easy to villianize him as a character, but here he comes off as a brilliant yet unfairly-overlooked political nerd for whom a symbiotic relationship with the charismatic but details-challenged Bush was his overdue ticket to the big time.

It's also pretty intriguing how the film ends up in ADORATION of Bush the Elder despite the broader theme of Dubya immolating himself in plea for fatherly approval, setting him up as a Truman-esque missed-opportunity historical figure: The Republican president who shunned the Religious Right and knew the wisdom of not trying to occupy Iraq the first time. Fascinating stuff, overall.