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Movie review by: Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars
Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars
"W." by Mike Smith
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Oliver Stone is well known for his films dealing with real life characters. He’s tackled Jim Morrison in “The Doors” and helped bring Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic’s story to life in “Born on the Fourth of July.” He has also put his spin on former presidents with “JFK” and “Nixon.” It’s been more than 40 years since Cliff Robertson starred in “P.T. 109,” the last time a sitting U.S. president has been the subject of a non-documentary film. Now Stone turns his talents toward our 43rd president with the new film, “W.”
Covering George W. Bush (Brolin) from his college days through his first term, “W.” is a surprisingly strong tale about the events that turned him from a happy go lucky college kid trying desperately to gain his father’s approval to the leader of the free world. The film pulls no punches in showing the presidents’ turbulent past; his failure to keep jobs often obtained for him by his politician father (Cromwell) and his fondness for drink combine to keep him in the family dog house. “Who do you think you are,” his father asks him during a scolding, “a Kennedy?” Only after encouragement from his wife (Banks) and a local pastor (Stacey Keach) does he find the strength he needs to set his life straight and on course to the White House.
Hats off to Oliver Stone for taking such a straight on approach. Unlike some of his previous films, there is no slant to the story, no “message” secretly implied in the telling. He doesn’t ask you to judge Bush. Rather, by keeping the film unbiased he allows the viewer to make up his/her own mind about the man and the job he’s done. As portrayed by Brolin, the president comes off exactly as I imagine him to be: a good hearted man whose inner circle of advisors haven’t done him any favors. Coming off last year’s Oscar winning “No Country for Old Men,” Brolin continues his rise to “A” list status with his work here. And he is surrounded by a strong cast of supporting players including Dreyfuss as the string pulling Dick Cheney, Scott Glenn as Donald Rumsfeld and Jeffrey Wright as Colin Powell. Cheney and Powell constantly bicker, each one trying their best to convince Bush that, when it comes to invading Iraq, their way is the right way. When the subject of fighting in war comes up Powell quickly puts Cheney in his place by referring to him as “Mr. 5 deferments.” The only weakness in the presidents inner circle is Thandie Newton’s portrayal of Condaleeza Rice, who comes off as very, for lack of a better word, blah. Hers is the only role that looks like a parody, as if she just stepped out of a live action version of Comedy Central’s “Little Bush” series.
A well acted drama that republicans and democrats alike can enjoy, on a scale of zero to four stars I give “W.”
This week's movie review of "W." is ©2008 by Michael A. Smith. All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2008, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.