Monday, January 26, 2009

One Word Review: W.

67: Familiar


Kozy said...

I would have given it at least a 75. Did you discount it due to your W. dislike?

Reed said...

Honestly, I had trouble going this high because I think, as a movie, it wasn't anything special. Perhaps I've followed the Bush administration far too closely, but there was nothing in the film that I didn't already know. I feel that as a historical document, he got all the big things right, but many of the small things wrong. It is certainly overly forgiving of W's moral character (particularly in light of what we have learned more recently about his condoning of torture and blatantly lying about it).

The camera work was consistently inartful, and there is no real story arc. This is perhaps because the story isn't finished yet, but the angle here is the relationship with his father, and it was handled in a very basic, obvious manner. I get Stone's idea of putting W's life in perspective as it relates to his presidency, but I feel that he needed to go more in one direction or another. Also, the performances by Thandie Newton and various other supporting members were silly caricatures, and I found them extremely distracting.

All that said, Brolin's performance ratcheted the rating up quite a bit. He was superb (as were Scott Glen and Jeffrey Wright). But my problem was that it just felt more like a TV show than a movie. That in trying to capture too much, Stone couldn't commit to any real story. The clearest example is the scene where W chokes on a pretzel. This happened, and it made the news, but in the context of the story presented here, who cares?

As far as my personal feelings about Bushy, if Stone would have made a film that agreed with them, it would have come off more as a Michael Moore joint and either been a painstaking exercise of his crimes or a redundant loop of Letterman's "Great moments in presidential speeches." Like I said, he got the big stuff right, and therefore this may be enlightening for many people. It just wasn't for me, so I was only hoping for a great movie as I always do whenever I watch anything. All that said, it's rather hard to tell a story about a person who is an anti-intellectual who happened to stumble into the most powerful job on the planet. So perhaps Stone did the best job anyone could. But in the future, someone will probably do it better. All the close-up shots fit the time. He was still the prez. In the future, someone will see everything from a distance and paint a more complete picture.