Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Last Bush President: Oliver Stone's W.

Movie director Oliver Stone should be kicking himself right about now. His lack of patience – and possible underestimation of his topic’s utter incompetence – obviously caused him to rush the biopic of George W. Bush to the screen. At “The End” of this movie, the Katrina debacle had not happened, nor had the pending U.S.-led worldwide economic meltdown. As a result, this seemingly first-draft screenplay fails to fairly and completely capture the historical disaster that is the real W. As a result, Stone’s product is disappointing, leaving the door open for someone like Michael Moore or Spike Lee to do the 3-hour bio-tragedy of – we hope – America’s last Bush president. Still, Stone’s treatment of America’s worst presidency – including the cast of enablers who surrounded him – should not be missed, especially by all the people (now in hiding) who voted for W twice.

Stone’s task in depicting George W. Bush was not an easy task. Where do you start with so much incompetence to choose from? Yet Stone misses a couple key points in W’s life story. First, he focused too much on W’s baseball team ownership and completely bypassed the subject’s failure as a businessman. W’s penchant to drag down his corporate ventures through financial shenanigans, as exhibited by the handling of Arbusto Energy, Spectrum 7 Energy Systems, and Harken Energy, portended his neglectful, shallow leadership that would eventually lead to the bankruptcy of America. Stone just couldn’t wait for it all to play out.

Incredibly, Stone misses a second key point to W’s story. His sympathetic portrait of “Poppy” – George H.W. Bush – sheds little light on the workings and influence – and continued failed judgment – of America’s oligarchy as represented by the Bush family. The senior Bush is depicted as a respectable elder statesman while ignoring his central role in selling us out to China, in building the American security state, in the Iran-Contra Affair, in the original Savings & Loan theft, and, finally, in bestowing the oligarchic legacy of American leadership to his bumbling son. Stone, most likely, made a movie about the wrong Bush or let’s hope there is prequel in the works called “H.W.”

The theater was filled Friday night for the opening and I hope more people go see this movie. I should warn the reader: the movie is NOT a comedy, as the official trailer running on television is trying to sell it. Yes, there were some chuckle points at different parts to the movie. It is starkly evident to the audience that the story of W is neither fun nor funny, no matter how marketers, Washington, and Hollywood sell it. We’re not buying anymore – we can’t afford it.

-- Rico Thomas Rico

W. Trailer Featuring Talking Heads Soundtrack

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