Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Thoughts on the film: W.

Today I watched W at the Grove. It was inconsistent.

I'm not sure all the actors were in the same movie. James Cromwell played a character - George H. W. Bush - and played it well. Thandie Newton seemed to think she was doing an impersonation of Condoleeza Rice in an SNL sketch.

Sometimes the movie was a comedy, sometimes it was a drama. Sometimes W was a buffoon, sometimes he was just a misunderstood son in over his head. Sometimes this movie was about the war in Iraq, sometimes it was about the campaign. I never knew when it would end because I never knew what the throughline was.

There are parts I loved.


When a badly burned American soldier in his hospital bed told the President he wished he could stand up properly in front of his commander in chief and the President offered him a T-Shirt for his sacrifice, I almost cried. When Laura Bush (Elizabeth Banks) planted that creepy smile on her face and never really let it go, I felt so sad for her acceptance of her place as his devoted servant. The juxtaposition of father Bush with the son was brilliant, and you really do get the idea that W stole out of jealousy the path that was set for Jeb.

But then there's all this odd comedy that seems out of place. And there's a speech Colin Powell (Jeffery Wright) makes that seems so unbearably preachy, and is only more annoying because there's this really obvious emotionally swelling music in the background.

And there's a point of view violation. In the entire film George W Bush is in every single scene except two, and those are told from his father's perspective. It jolted me out of the picture, as did all those tonal shifts.

On top of that, the film is told in flashbacks only up through the first half, then suddenly the flashbacks are gone for the last hour. It's like Stone was a bit wishy washy on his intent, which is very unlike him.

So that's why I feel like this film is inconsistent. I like much of it but I was a little confused by the rest. However there's no denying that Josh Brolin does a spot on W.

Oh and it didn't help that there was this dude next to us who kept going Ughmchrghhhhhhh ungghghhghg periodically until he fell asleep and snored and then woke up and made more old man noises. Also he smelled like used boxing gloves.


  1. Anonymous7:34 PM

    Not even Oliver Stone can fuck up a very good actor (Brolin, who is finally coming into his own as an actor. Finally.) with his heavy-handed, conspiracy-theory laced, wandering directing style. Imagine if Brolin had been in the competent hands of a really good director with no ax to grind. "W" could have been very good movie, instead of just mediocre, and would be a film to recommend. As is, I know I wouldn't tell any of my anti-Bush friends nor anyone else to go see it. Who would?

  2. What you have never realized is that FOR HER ENTIRE ADULT LIFE, CONDELEEZA RICE HAS BEEN DOING AN IMPERSONATION OF THANDIE NEWTON...with fewer boyfriends...

  3. now, the movie.
    Rule number one: don't make a movie about something you really care about. Stone hated W too much and it shows; he has no delicacy. There's no grace in the film- he shows W talking to Dick Cheney with his mouth full; why not just show the president crapping into his own cupped hands?
    What would have been really challenging? Showing the man as a blend of good and bad, rather than 'I'm angry at my Dad' and 'I screw up at everything else'.
    The film is kinda boring as it stands

  4. "I know I wouldn't tell any of my anti-Bush friends nor anyone else to go see it. Who would?"

    I would. Although not a perfect film, I liked it a lot. My only problem with it was I was hoping it would be vicious, but that isn't the movie Stone chose to make.

    As for this idea that Stone normally does fuck up very good actors, I'd put out there Michael Douglas, Woody Harrelson, Val Kilmer, Kevin Costner, Anthony Hopkins, Gary Oldman, Kevin Bacon, Joe Pesci, Eric Bogosian, Charlie Sheen, Tom Cruise, and Juliette Lewis as examples of that being wrong. Each of them gave one of their best, and most electric, performances in an Oliver Stone film.

    I'm not sure there are many pro-Bush people left to recommend the film to. So I'm only recommending it to anti(and used to be pro)-Bush people.

  5. Ah, nothing like a smelly, noisy fellow moviegoer to really give the event some flair!

  6. I really hate Bush and I ain't sure if I'll watch this movie. There's nothing funny about how Bush has lied and many people died, but whatever. Now that you mention the film is half serious, half comedic, maybe I'll go see it.

    Oliver Stone's a weird guy. I'll always hold a torch for him b/c Natural Born Killers is one of my all-time fave movies.

  7. "Rule number one: don't make a movie about something you really care about."

    Wow. Really? Wow. What an interesting little blanket statement. There is no way you actually meant that generally, probably just for this specific case you felt that way.

  8. Anonymous6:58 PM

    George W. Bush, speaking to "the good american people, concerning the "financial...situation" that looms.

    I embellish (but not much)...

    "It has taken the economy a long time to thaw...it's going to take it some time to unthaw."

    Just call me *pussy*.


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