Saturday, October 18, 2008
I hate when this happens. Over the past few weeks, there have been a few big name flicks that have hit theatres. However, with Oscar season starting to hit full swing, the number is starting to rise exponentially. However, the thing that I really hate, is that the studios love to plant these flicks all on the same day. Take this week for example. First we have Max Payne, a disappointing yet solid brainless action film based on a game that I have a soft spot in my heart for, and the film that I have been hyping since the day it was announced, W. Now, does this hotly anticipated film really live up to all of that hype?
So, as all of you probably know, W is the new film from director Oliver Stone, and chronicles the life, not so much the politics, of the current President of The United States, George W. Bush. It takes us from his early days pledging for Delta Kappa at Yale, and ultimately ends with the days after the invasion of Iraq. That's really it. It is a semi sympathetic tale of Dubya as he tries to follow, or break out of his fathers shadow. Starring the impeccable Josh Brolin as the man himself, this is one of the most anticipated films of this year and, for the most part, hits a home run.
I must say, this is one of the most interesting films that I've seen all year. Going into the theatre, I was ready to just get taken for a ride along the bash dubya with an SNL style flick with gimmicky performances. However, I was blown away with how sort of sympathetic this film was. It all starts with what I am saying now is the single best male performance I've seen all year. Josh Brolin is shockingly amazing in this film. Not only does he get the physicality of the man down to a science, but he does something more. It would have been easy to just give an SNL style performance, but Brolin gives a great amount of humanity to the man.
That may be the best part of the film. The film doesn't really care about the politics of George W. Bush, but it simply looks at what makes and what made the man himself. No lengthy discussion of the 2000 election, no real talk about the Patriot Act, and very little talk about torture. The film shows what makes this guy tick, and that is what is so interesting about this movie. Bush isn't the monster that everyone would like to portray him as, and this film is trying to get that point out. It spends time discussing the relationship between him and his father, and how Bush Sr. played the biggest role in his life. Rather, the Bush name played the biggest role in his life.
Not only does the lead pull through, but the supporting cast is pitch perfect. Jeffery Wright is amazing as Colin Powell, and is one of the only "good" people around the President, and seeing the interchanges between him and the rest of the cabinet were really fun and, if they were real discussions, some of the most shocking scenes in film this year. The main villain of this film isn't Bush, but it's Dick Cheney, played frighteningly well by Richard Dreyfuss. He is portrayed as a power hungry war monger that can't settle for being the second hand to W.
James Cromwell is solid as George H.W. Bush, and really makes the relationship between him and "Jr." really work. He's a strong individual who thinks before he talks, and may be the exact opposite of his son. The person W relates to most, or at least gets his attitude from is his mother, Barbara, played by the always brilliant Ellen Burstyen, who, even in her minor role, is amazing. The beautiful Elizabeth Banks plays Laura, and may give the best performance out side of Brolin in this film. Toby Jones is alright as Karl Rove, and Scott Glenn pulls his weight as "Rummy".
The last thing that really worked for me was the style of this film. While there are many of moments that look and feel like a glorified episode of the West Wing, the way that this film cuts between some of the sequences was a pleasant surprise. The film is split between the early days of Bush's collegiate a professional life, and also the first few years of his presidency, and there are some really great edits that just took my eyes right in. It's got a great style and feel to it, yet wasn't so stylized as to take over the performances.
However, there were just a couple of problems that really bugged me. First off, the performance of Thandie Newton as Condellezza Rice was really laughable. She gave the most comedic or "SNL" style performance, and did not fit in with the rest of the cast. There were a few laughs in her performance, but it just kind of felt forced where the rest of the cast felt so natural. Also, and most saddening, and I know a lot of people have been harping on this, critics at least, but I would have loved to get more of the relationship between Bush and Powell. They spent great lengths at showing how influential Rumsfield and Cheney were, yet they spent very little time on showing how really good Powell was, and how Bush just didn't agree with him. I would have loved to get more of their relationship, and the film missed on a really great point. That really left a bad taste in my mouth. Not only did they miss out on that, but the film ends so abruptly and poorly that it could have spent about another 15-20 minutes on them, and the film wouldn't have felt much longer. This is one of the rare instances where I would have loved to get more of the film instead of cut some of it. It flew by, but it ended poorly, so it was all for nothing. That said, this is one film that everyone should check out, even if you only want to rent it.
W - 8/10
A really interesting look at one of the most controversial people in this countries history, and featuring some of the best performances so far this year, this proves to be one of the best 3/4ths of a film this year. Despite a schlocky ending and a missed opportunity, this is one film that everyone should give a shot.
Alright, so come back tomorrow for the box office top 10, and upcoming DVD and theatrical releases!
Go see something good!
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