Wednesday, October 29, 2008

W: A Four-Sentence Movie Review

It's probably a bit too cute to wonder whether or not Oliver Stone has, well, lost his stones, but his last two films - World Trade Center and, now, W - haven't had much of what I like to call "whacked out Oliver Stone shit" in them, with no acid-tripped cuts or close-ups, long monologues, or seemingly warped, demented insights into his characters. But with these two most recent films, depicting events so fresh in our history and memory, perhaps there just isn't enough distance from them, leaving Stone without the time or inclination to create whatever theories or attacks might normally brew in his mind (though he was apparently leaning that way at one point), and I think that's reflected in the film's rather open ending.

Having said that, I still enjoyed this movie quite a bit, largely because of the acting (Josh Brolin is great as George W. Bush, portraying him as something of a buffoon, but also as someone who eventually believes he may have found a calling, even if it's taken him to a place where he's in way over his head; Richard Dreyfuss is sufficiently menacing and manipulative as Dick Cheney, especially when it comes to making the case for war; but I still haven't figured out if Thandie Newton's version of Condoleezza Rice, in which she almost comes off as a stroke victim and supreme ass-kisser, is brilliant caricature or a SNL-like parody that doesn't fit with the rest of the cast) but also because it gives political junkies a "greatest hits" re-telling of the last six to eight years, confirming much of the bellicosity, megalomania and arrogance that we've perceived from the Bush administration.

Stone attempts to be accurate in this film (something he presumes to care about, judging from these footnotes at the movie's official website) - and perhaps more fair than haters would've liked him to be, though plenty of cheap shots are taken - but his attempt at an overarching view of Bush, to figure out the man through the events and people that may have shaped him, also causes him to overlook two key events that will surely dictate this president's legacy - 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina - yet haven't been studied and investigated as thoroughly as the administration's march to war, which further cements the sentiment that a story that is still being told, whose ending has yet to be finalized, probably shouldn't have been told quite yet.