Dr. Joan Bushwell's Chimpanzee Refuge

Curious George

My seventeen year old daughter is keenly interested in politics and political figures so I wasn’t surprised that she wanted to see Oliver Stone’s biopic W. We saw it on Friday night in an almost full theater. In a nutshell, the movie was entertaining in a squirm-in-your-seat fashion.

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Josh Brolin (l) [No Country for Old Men] starred as the Lame Duck (r). Although not a doppelganger, Brolin nailed Bushie’s mannerisms and speech patterns perfectly. Interestingly, Christian Bale was originally cast in the role, but dropped out for various reasons.

As I reminded Spawn the Yonger, this is an Oliver Stone movie, and the director is known to take plenty of artistic license in his portrayal of historic figures and events. That said, Stone, an admirably unabashed lefty, provided surprisingly even-handed treatment of Bush who emerges as a sympathetic character. This is largely due to Brolin’s interpretation of Dubya: not exactly stupid, but often clueless and in way over his head. Brolin gives the character vulnerability.

The film lacks depth and is even kind of cartoonish, but that worked for me. If I want depth, I’ll read. The supporting cast was very entertaining and I could almost imagine them drawn out DC Comics style or part of a graphic novel. Thandie Newton smirked her way through Condolezza Rice’s role. Richard Dreyfus inhabited Dick Cheney with an incredibly chilling Dr. Strangelove moment when asked by Colin Powell (Jeffrey Wright) about the plans for an exit strategy from Iraq. Cheney/Dreyfus’ response: “There is no exit strategy.” That turns one’s blood cold, fictionalized account or no, because it’s all too believable that Cheney has chiseled that strategy in stone.

Jeffrey Wright as Colin Powell and Bruce McGill as George Tenet (chief of the CIA) offered constant uneasiness and tension with the Cheney/Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz triumvirate. I can easily imagine Powell saying “Fuck you!” to Cheney as he did in the flick. McGill as Tenet was great with his “WTF?” and otherwise “I can’t believe what these assholes are doing” expressions as the White House manufactured “yellow cake” to justify the invasion. Toby Jones was a perfect weasel as Karl Rove. James Cromwell as Poppy and Ellen Burstyn as Bar were good enough, although the whole Oedipal thing between Poppy and Dubya was overplayed. Still, Poppy’s “deeply disappointed” had plausibility. Some cool surprises: Rob Corddry as sycophant Ari Fleischer (press secretary before Scott McClellan), Ioan Gruffudd as Tony Blair, and Stacy Keach as Earle Hudd, a fictional character who is a composite of W’s fundagelical clergy pals. Elizabeth Banks as Laura Bush wasn’t terribly memorable.

The feel of the film was simultaneously comic and deeply chilling. In the midst of Bushie’s rah-rah cheerleaderism and his cabinet’s cold exuberance over the invasion of Iraq, Stone throws in jaw-droppingly graphic footage of the war. It was shocking (even for me), but served its purpose well, reminding the audience what really was — and is — at stake.

In his review of W, Ty Burr (of the Boston Globe; Burr is “my” most reliable film critic since I appear to share his tastes), this movie was made “too soon” and was thus uneven. Stone filmed this in a very short period of time, and I think it’s pretty obvious he intended to release it close to the election. When a clip of Bush speaking before Congress was shown with a flash of McCain on the screen, there was a collective murmur of derision throughout the theater. The area around Princeton is heavily Democratic so I guess that’s no surprise, plus I doubt that many up in Hunterdon County or in South Jersey with McCain/Palin signs in their yard are going to see this film. Some people walked out, but my guess is that it was because this, ummm, wasn’t exactly a great film.

Personally, I would much rather have seen Appaloosa (Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen), but I’m not one to discourage my kid’s zeal and budding activism.

Comments

  1. #1 Suesquatch
    October 20, 2008

    I won’t see it. But I will mention that Obama signs in this little Republican town are 1-1 Obama/McCain, and in other parts of the county 2-1 Obama’s favor.

    17! Gevalt, they grow up fast!

  2. #2 Mad Hussein LOLscientist, FCD
    October 21, 2008

    @ Suesquatch: All the more amazing since Obama signs have been so hard to get hold of in so many parts of the country. My mom and I went to her local Obama HQ (in SW PA) a month ago to get a couple, and the staff there said they hadn’t been able to get them. One woman said she’d gone so far as to try to get a bunch at her own expense from her daughter, who’s working at an Obama HQ on the left coast.

  3. #3 Red State Badass
    April 30, 2009

    Dr. Joan,

    Thanks,for your review of W. I did not see the move and I think anyone who wasted their time sitting through the movie or paying money to see it is a real dumb ass. Typical lefty liar, Oliver Stone, had to lie to attract the few liberal retards to the theaters. For example, Stone lied about Karl Rove being involved in the Willie Horton incident. You have to admit, W was a lot better president than the chickenshit (weak-on-terror) deficit spending (more than W) teleprompter we have now. If your review is an indicator of the type of mother you are, your daughter will probably grow up to be a lesbian or a two-bit whore who will have many abortions by the time she is twenty-five. Anyway, everyone knows Josh Brolin is a fag.

  4. #4 Jim Fiore
    May 1, 2009

    RSB: Thanks for dredging up a 6 month old post in an effort to emphasize your already tenuous grasp of reality. I suggest that you abide by truth in advertising laws by renaming yourself “Red State Dumbass”.

    You’re welcome. I’m just doing my part.

  5. #5 Red State Badass
    May 24, 2009

    Hey Jim,
    didn’t mean to offend you, honey, about the fag reference. W gave us 6 years of prosperity, I’ll admit there was recession in 2008 and huge bailout issue his last 5 months. However, Bambi has quadrupled Bush’s deficit in 4 months, not to mention bowing to Saudi prince and sucking up to Europe. He would free Al-Queda at Gitmo if it were not for public opinion. Lately, Dick Cheney has been exposing the community organizizer (the only job he has ever had) for the pacifist wuss that he is. The dude is an over-rated speaker who can’t even read tele-prompters that good. He walks into windows at the whithouse and calls members of his cabinet by the wrong name. You and the mainstream media give him a pass for everything. If we are attacked by Al-Queda (on his watch) after he has ended interrogation methods, GOD HELP HIM AND DEMOCRATS, blood will be on their hands. I thank W for winning two wars and the war on terror. Jim your grasp of reality is base on Daily Kos blogs and Keith Olberman’s, lack of bladder control, rants. Jim, if you, Josh Brolin OR Oliver Stone ever come to Texas, let’s meet up somewhere & I will knock your ass sideways. Anyway, I consider being called a dumbass by a left-wing queer a compliment!

  6. #6 Jim Fiore
    May 25, 2009

    RSB: You’re tenuous grasp of reality is only equaled by your abysmal writing skills and your mastery of inadvertent humor. This, in particular, is most amusing:

    not to mention bowing to Saudi prince

    I guess that’s at least as good as holding hands.

  7. #7 Red State Badass
    May 25, 2009

    Jim,

    If that’s the best you got, you are mentally weak, just like your president.

  8. #8 hopper3011
    May 26, 2009

    Bambi has quadrupled Bush’s deficit in 4 months
    That is an interesting claim, do you have any figures to confirm it?

  9. #9 Jim Fiore
    May 26, 2009

    RSB: You have posted a large number of assertions. Time to back them up. You can start with hopper’s query and then explain precisely what you mean by “W (won) two wars and the war on terror”.

  10. #10 Red State Badass
    May 26, 2009

    OK, tripled not quadrupled. Are you going to defend that?

    CBO expects deficit to triple to $1.2 trillion

    THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

    http://www.newsday.com/business/ny-bzdefi08jan08,0,6324710.story

    As for the war on terror, England, Spain, and Indonesia have suffered Al-Queda linked terror attacks since 9-11-01, while W’s US has not. OK, I’ll bet you will blame W for the 911 attacks. GO ahead, then you should also point out the Clinton failures.

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/5782252/Bill-Clinton-and-Osama-Bin-Laden

    You can blame Bush for 8 months of neglecting Al-Queda & I will blame Clinton for 8 years of neglecting Al-Queda and Islamic terrorism.

    American soldiers’ naked bodies dragged through streets of Somaila; US soldiers killed at Khobar towers (Not Al-Queda, but Hizballah Al-Hijaz)US embassy bombings in Africa (to which Clinton had weak response) and of course the USS Cole.

    Former CIA head of Bin Laden Unit, Michael Scheurer, claims Clinton had 10 opportunities to capture/kill Bin Laden, however he refused.

    Clinton admits Sudan offered BinLaden & he turned them down. http://www.papillonsartpalace.com/clintASSon.htm

    IRAQ victory; ever notice how Reid and Pelosi don’t talk about it anymore. Deaths are down. The surge worked

    Peter Beinart
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/16/AR2009011603719.html

    Peter Mansoor
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/08/AR2008080802918.html

    WSJ
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119992665423979631.html

    Afghanistan:

    http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=327019106745941

    Why are Mullah Muhammed Omar & Bin Laden in hiding if US is losing this war? Hell even Hitler came out of the bunker every once in a while.

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