Just got back from seeing Oliver Stone’s “W.” this weekend. I knew going in that this was just kind of a “blah” movie– 10 minutes after we left the theatre I found myself already forgetting it. Although I tend to complain about movies that are 4 hours long, “W.” really needed the extra two hours. I wonder if someone at Lion’s Gate was like, “Olly… listen… about the time, nobody really does epics any more. Get it under 2 hours 20 min.”
Instead of a damning indictment of America’s failures over the past 8 years, “W.” was a pretty strait-forward bio pic. Sadly, because it tried to cover 50-something years in under 2 hours, I felt like I was just watching a highlight reel from Bush’s life. The actually interesting story is his, but it is in contact with all the other people aorund him– Karl Rove was a caricature, Laura is reduced to a fawning and ever-supportive wife, and Collin Powell is clearly Stone’s pick for conscience of the administration.
One technique that I did love– Stone films Brolin/Bush eating… a lot. If there is one way to paint someone as an idiot it is to watch them eat. I once fell out of love with a boyfriend when I watched, really watched, him eat. It was a nice touch on Stone’s part and subtle enough that I doubt anyone could claim a lefty Hollywood agenda. Nevertheless, it sets the tone of incompetence and, well, yucky for the rest of the movie.
I’d have liked to see more about the people surrounding Bush, about the press’ role in playing ‘yes-men’ in the run up to the war, and about the legal structures that failed to constrain what now seems to be a huge failure (ahem torture ahem banking crisis ahem wiretapping ahem) of foresight.
Overall, the movie wasn’t bad… but it wasn’t good either. I didn’t leave fired up to work on the Obama campaign or with a new-found sense of sympathy for a president who has managed to f*ck things up so bad. Instead, I just got a beer and some Thai food.