Saturday, November 11, 2006

Death of a President: a review

Death of a President is a film that doesn't really deserve all the attention it's received. It's a British what if film, shot in the mockumentary style of something you find on A & E. I didn't have any intention of catching it, though I didn't appreciate hearing on TV how watching it supports anti US bias, or makes you anti-American yourself. But I don't want to go out of my way and pay for it. But in the end, I was paid for, so off I went. I comprised a tenth of the audience and based on the lack of word of mouth, I'm not surprised. Not a terrible film by any means, but I came away dissappointed.

Potentially interesting set-up, with various talking heads looking back on several years earlier, on the difficulties for the Bush White House in Oct 2007. Also interesting is the anti-Bush protest turning violent, reminicent of the Chicago riots in the summer of 68. The money shot of the assissination happens so fast, you'll probably miss it. Those who so the picture of the CGI Bush getting shot, saw it clearer then those of us who saw the movie.

But it only takes up a portion of the film. The filmmakers are more interested in depicting 3 strands; the investigation that's aided by President Cheney's Patriot Act 3, Cheney's efforts to get another war going, and the resolutions to the investigation. Almost all of this is depicted through actors playing talking heads (Cabinet people, investigators, cops, civilians, etc.); and your tolerance of this narrative device either keeps you interested, or bores you to tears. Personally, I was right in the middle. I bought all the performances, but they started to meld together, and my mind drifted in the middle of the film whenever a talking head came back on.

The resolution I didn't see coming, but I can't say all the pieces fit neatly. More like some puzzle pieces that get pounded in even if they're not an even fit. And this isn't so much anti-Bush, but anti-Cheney and those who want no objections to all of the Patriot Act. The filmmakers take the old Saturday Night Live joke from 1988 seriously: In the event President George Bush (Sr.) is killed, the Secret Service is to shoot Quayle. Replace father with son and Quayle with Cheney, and the filmmakers might endorse the sentiment. Anything to keep Bush alive and any crony or sub-ordinate out.

More then a little cynicism helps the film go down a lot easier. The naive or overly hopeful will have a hard time with the film. But this tone was what works best about the film; the naive or overly hopeful have to snap the hell out of it.

Not a bad film overall. But wait for cable or home video. Can I honestly tell someone to go to a theater and spend 9 ,10 or 11 dollars? No.

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