Film Reviews

W.

By • Oct 16th, 2008 •

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Brilliant, engrossing, and terrifying. Brolin is a revelation.

Oliver Stone’s brilliant W. begins with George W. Bush’s fraternity initiation. There’s male bonding, nudity, and a lot of drinking. This sets the tone for W’s early life and reckless behavior. However, his father, George H.W., also was a member of a fraternity. Father and son were members of Yale’s Skull & Bones secret society. John F. Kennedy was a member of the Phi Kappa Theta fraternity. Bill Clinton was a member of the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity. What were the initiations like for Kennedy and Clinton? Or did their initiations involve quoting passages from the New Testament and handing out blankets to the homeless?

The way our culture is going, future presidents will have to admit to sex tapes, using ecstasy and smoking pot, and baby mamas.

Is Oliver Stone’s film THE PASSION OF W.? Does he crucify George W. Bush? Absolutely not. In fact, Josh Brolin’s portrayal is riveting. His “W” is incredibly charismatic, psychologically transparent, and fascinating.

And W. confirms my opinion that the only way George W. could best his father was to topple a dictator, destroy a country, and kill thousands of people by Munchausen’s Syndrome. Adolf Hitler never personally killed anyone. He never even toured an extermination camp. Yet, he was responsible and no matter how many countries or people were “desk executioners”, it was Hitler’s Final Solution.

It is clear that the Iraq war’s architects played on “W”’s deep-rooted need to step on his father’s legacy. “W” needed to make a historical name for himself. Becoming president wasn’t enough. His father did that already. Let’s face it. He succeeded. He has changed the world. We now have a firm presence in the oil-rich Middle East. It’s 21st century colonialism.

If only the French (one such example, French Guiana), the British Empire, the Belgian Congo, Germany’s ownership in Sub-Saharan Africa (Tanzania, Namibia, Togo, and Cameroon) had insisted their domination of other people’s lands were for their own democratic good instead of pure self-interest!

“W” got even with us for electing his father and making his life miserable under his family’s prestigious background. Then, based on his father’s damn legacy, we voted for him! The Iraq war was payback.

There are more than 70 countries ruled by dictators who exercise absolute authority over their citizens. These tyrants commit torture, execute opponents and starve their own people. Omar al-Bashir of the Sudan tops the list of the world’s worst dictators. Is al-Bashir the next U.S. target so the Sudanese can experience democracy?

W. goes back and forth in time. After seeing George W’s (Josh Brolin) randy college life filled with drinking, arrests, and an unwanted, politically-inappropriate pregnancy, we go directly to the Oval Office.

“W” is holding a cabinet meeting with his think tank of puppet masters: Dick Cheney (Richard Dreyfuss), Condoleezza Rice (Thandie Newton), Donald Rumsfeld (Scott Glenn), and Colin Powell (Jeffrey Wright). The casting is perfect, especially Newton! It is fascinating that as shown here, they all defer to “W”. But it is Cheney who explains exactly what the invasion of Iraq was and is all about. They have oil. We want it. We will never leave the Middle East now that we are there.

Back to the past. “W” is floundering. He fails at everything he attempts. He has to contend with his father, George Sr. (James Cromwell), who is building his political career and openly disappointed in “W”. And, of course, there is another brother who can do no wrong.
George Sr. becomes president and “W” decides to go into the family business. But his father favors Jeb, the baby brother.

“W” does a few things right. He marries a nice girl, Laura (Elizabeth Banks), finds redemption at Church, and surrounds himself with capable men who steer his political career.

We know politicians are coached, have speechwriters, and ghost writers for their books, and create themselves according to polls. It’s another thing to actually see “W” with his handler, Karl Rove (Toby Jones), running lines with him.

Yet, we see how the Oval Office gang used ‘W”’s trust in them to go the WMD route and lie to the American people and the world. “W” is furious, but what can he do? The Oval Office Gang? They throw the blame on each other and bow their heads. Hey, they don’t have to make any speeches or visit wounded soldiers in VA hospitals.

Brolin is amazing. He shows off what must have rode “W” to the presidency. An easy-going joy, a lust for life, and a person who only could see the broadest strokes. It is “W”’s cronies who are responsible for his shame. This is what makes “W” a sympathetic character.

But, on the bright side, the Rumsfeld-Cheney-Rove Axis of True Evil achieved their sole agenda. We have a dead center presence smack in the middle of the Middle East!

Dreyfuss, who usually over-acts, is reigned in by Stone. He is scary as manipulator Cheney. Scott Glenn is a shadowy Rumsfeld. Knowing how cranky Rumsfeld is, did Stone get a phone call? And Newton? She’s got a real acting career now. Brolin and Newton are on my list for Academy Award nominations. Brolin is now my Best Actor front-runner.

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