Wednesday, October 8, 2008

"W" is Wrong

This post is being spurred by my recent viewing of the trailer for Oliver Stone's new controversial film "W". Let me first start by saying that I love most of the Oliver Stone movies that I have seen with my favorite being "JFK", which is one of my favorite movies of all-time (hmmm...don't think I have it listed on my Facebook page...I need to change...fixed).

With all that said I just saw the trailer for his new film "W", which is an unofficial biographical account of President George W. Bush's years before and during office (or at least so can I tell from the trailer). The trailer, and if the movie represents anything similar to the trailer, is a downright disgrace to film making.

The movie stars Josh Brolin ("No Country for Old Men") plays the current President, and from the trailer does a decent job of looking and acting like the President. So acting is not what I am criticizing this film for. The trailer shows a relentless barrage of Bush-isms, moments where Bush stumbles or says something ridiculous. For example, the trailer shows a scene where Vice President Dick Cheney is telling the current President about all of the threats of America coming together in a "perfect storm" and the Bush in the movie replies in his southern accent, "I don't know why you are bringing this up over lunch."

To me a movie's trailer should demonstrate how the full movie will be presented...and this trailer only provides a relentless bashing of President Bush based on little fact, and just the interpretation of events.

I would like to state that I do not support President Bush's policies in any way. His presidency on the whole can be seen as a failure, and he has left this country in a worse state then when he arrived. Once again the point that I am criticizing is the type of film making that Mr. Stone is going for. We all know Oliver Stone loves to make controversial movies and he seems to love the spotlight of controversy. His movies are usually still well made, but from the looks of this trailer he has gone too far to grab controversy.

Throughout the entire trailer there is not one scene where Mr. stone presents the president as anything but a bumbling idiot...even in his interactions (as shown in my previous examples) with his staff behind closed doors. I agree that Bush is not a great speaker at all. He is not the smartest president to ever reside in the Oval Office. But to create conversations and based on little fact is misleading to the public, who may flock to watch such a film that bashes a president whose approval rating is as low as any presidents since they began taking such a poll. What Oliver Stone does in this film is make and fit the dialogue and story to the caricatures of all those involved in the administration. For example the trailer even shows the depictions of Colin Powell with the text (and Bush nickname) "General"; Condoleezza Rice as "Condi", and Donald Rumsfeld as "Rummy". I know Bush actually gave these people these nicknames, but what Oliver Stone is doing is a whole other thing. Rather than telling the story through facts and without bias, Mr. Stone chooses to uphold the caricatures of President Bush and his staff by creating these characters to fit exactly what the media and public have painted them to be. I agree that these caricatures are not necessarily false, especially publicly, but behind closed doors who knows how any of these people act? And to create these characters in that bias makes this film too biased to be worthy of any honor in film making.

Oliver Stone's main crime in all of this is that he breaks in my mind the most important rule of film making. As a director he should show not tell the story. He instead tells the story through his filter of bias, and tells the public what he thinks they should know and what they want to see. If Mr. Stone had instead made a film with little bias then left the decision for the audience to judge the Bush presidency then I would be much more agreeable with the film.

I realize that most of what I am saying comes from a single trailer. But a trailer is lie a presidential ad and should convince me why I should go see it. This trailer showed me that unless the film is a whole lot different then the sample scenes it gave me it will be a sickeningly biased movie. I say this as a young person who loves movies, not as young person who follows politics.

Unless this movie get a fabulous film review describing how unbiased and fascinating it is, I refuse to see this film, and I hope others agree. If you want to look at the Bush presidency I suggest you read the numerous books that have been written about it, and read from both sides of the aisle so as not to have much bias and leave yourself to make your own decision.

But for Oliver Stone if you want me to see this movie pray to the God of Film Reviewing for generous praise.

1 comment:

Daniel said...

The reviews are saying the film tries to be more balanced, but I got the same impression as you from watching the trailer. I'm no Bush fan either, but this film seems like a lazy projection of the director's biases onto real flesh-and-blood people. What results is a half-serious SNL-type caricature, not anything resembling a serious biopic. Bush, like human beings in general, is psychologically very complex, and is capable of gravitas and seriousness, not just good ol' boy joshing. I disagree with many things he has done, but I do not ascribe his actions to simplistic motives, especially his life-and-death decisions on war and peace.

Because of this film, it's unlikely we'll get to see a critical yet historically serious cinematic depiction of this presidency for some time. That's truly unfortunate, but perhaps more time should pass in order to gain better perspective.