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- Hands Down, My Favorite Stone Movie!!!!
After all the rancor surrounding Dubys'a administration has somewhat subsided, this is actually a fitting "homage" to George W. Bush. While this is of course Stone's interpretation of the supposed machinations behind our entry into the War in Iraq as well as a rather candid look at the man behind the man, in all honesty, Stone's vision is not far off what I myself imagined.
For those looking for a scathing review of Dubya, you will be sorely disappointed. As a matter of fact, I felt a very strong sense of empathy for the ex-president after seeing this and coupled with how VERY classy I think he is behaving these days, regardless of what I thought of his decisions/actions while in the White House, Stone indeed makes him very human and quite frankly George should be rather proud of this depiction of him.
Stone tells the story in a sort of parallel chronology. He juxtaposes George's wild days with him in serious talks with his cabinet re the Iraq War. This works quite well because the contrasts are so stark: one moment we see a guy being dressed down by Daddy Dear for being a perpetual screw-up and then, with him, we are thrown in the midst of very serious talks with the likes of Karl Rove, Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell, and Dick Cheney.
The performances (..well,..except maybe one) are spellbinding. Josh Brolin is positively wooooooooooooonderful as Dubya, Richard Dreyfuss is positively sickening as Dick Cheney (flawless performance, however), Toby Jones works quite well as Karl Rove, James Cromwell paints a much tougher picture of George Sr than the general public has, Ellen Burstyn (who is ALWAYS fabulous) just WORKS Barbara Bush, Elizabeth Banks was just perfect as Laura, and last but hardly least, Jeffrey Wright is simply OFF THE CHAIN!! as Colin Powell.
Indeed the "weirdest" performance was that of Thandie Newton as Condoleeza Rice. Her performance was eerily reminiscent of a Saturday Night Live skit where Condoleeza was portrayed by none other than Janet Jackson (right after the Super Bowl "wardrobe malfunction."). The end result being that even in the midst of some of the most serious conversations about the validity of engaging in a war with Irag, the other players came across most compelling, while Condoleeza Rice's depiction was entirely too comical. No matter WHAT she said, I burst into uncontrollable laughter. And to be fair to Thandie, a very decent actress, the Rice character was nowhere nearly as fleshed out as the others and sadly so. It would have indeed been interesting to get at least a GLIMPSE of just where her head was in the midst of the madness.
Notwithstanding, this was an honest and VERY entertaining look at Dubya - The Man Who Would Be President. I hiiiiiiiiighly recommend!!!...more info
- Good acting saves this otherwise arrogantly shallow movie
George W Bush is such a divisive figure I think it is easiest for me to put my cards on the table as a reviewer. I did not like W. Bush as our 43rd president. I think he may be judged by historians as one of the worst we have ever had. With that backdrop, even though I am sympathetic to the many criticisms W. Bush has earned, this movie by Oliver Stone is mediocre at best. I think the fact so many critics love it just shows their lack of objectivity on the subject.
In this movie, Bush is portrayed as a totally non-reflective, stubborn and extremely hypocritical person of little capability - best at beer drinking and carousing with women or other potential voters. That may be an accurate portrayal, I do not know. But what is certain is Oliver Stone never misses an opportunity to transition scenes in order to highlight hypocrisy or provide cheesy background music to ridicule Bush's simplistic foreign affairs perspective (such as the old "Robin Hood" theme). Showing Bush praying after bizarrely arrogant plans to attack Iraq, or showing depictions of Christ just after beer drinking and carousing flashbacks - these are the exclusive domain of the film maker - Stone in this case. These are so obviously biased and agenda driven, it undermines what could have been a more fascinating investigation. I do not think Bush is terribly complex, but he is portrayed as a one dimensional idiot and I find that hard to believe about almost anyone. Stone took a definite position in JFK, whether right or wrong, and sold it to the audience, or at least made it fascinating to learn. Here, he just bashes away on a president he clearly despises.
Why do I bother to defend Bush at all since I think he was a miserable president? Because I think when you are going to treat someone's entire adult life and trajectory of purpose with such disdain, you at least owe it to them to mention any minor qualities you can possibly locate. With Bush, this is easy. His change of policy and funding to assist Africa with its AIDs and other crises sets a new standard and it will probably be his most lasting good achievement. This is totally absent from the film. If Stone disagrees with that widely accepted assessment of Bush on Africa, he could have repurposed one of the many ridiculing scenes to explain why. Instead of showing the corruption in the U.N. as part of Bush's reason for not waiting on them in Iraq, or that Iraq had clearly used chemical weapons in the recent past, Stone only portrays Bush's personal bias and agenda over and over. I believe these topics are more complex than Stone bothers to examine, yet his movie is more than two hours long, plenty of time.
I started out watching the movie with three other people. None of us like Bush very much. Before it was half over two had left because it was boring. The most excellent aspect of the film is the character portrayals themselves. Each character in the Bush family or administration is very convincing in body language, tone of voice, mannerisms, etc. and that is saying something since they are all so recent in memory.
As for Stone, I think this film will end up being thought of not much better than the president it obviously means to trash without attempting balanced consideration. Given some more time, someone can make a movie that is not so loaded with emotion. Mr. Stone should direct his amazing talents more carefully - George W. Bush is not the only one guilty of having a shallow, incomplete axe to grind.
- A vain little man
Vain because he thought he was the decider and that God had chosen his ear in which to whisper. Little as measured by his talent compared to others who have held the office. But more than that, the tragedy of George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States, is a direct result of a sociopathic personality that this film was not able to fully capture.
That personality belonged and belongs to Dick Cheney, Bush's prince of darkness-like vice president, a man who was able to manipulate W. as a puppeteer might manipulate a puppet by playing on W.'s vanity and insecurities, and on his vainglorious lust to outdo his father and to shine brighter than his brother Jed.
Or is it George W. himself who has the sociopathic personality? How can you approve the torture of people to find a justification to invade another country knowing full well that thousands of people will die because of your actions? Can you tell yourself you are bringing democracy to another land when in your heart of hearts you know that your motive is to be able to run for reelection as a wartime president or one who has just won a war and thereby upstage your father who was not reelected? I think the question of whether George W. was the more manipulated or more the manipulator has not yet been answered.
This film is curious in what it shows and where it would not go. We do not see W. as a boy blowing up frogs with firecrackers. There is no snorting of cocaine. We see him as a fraternity pledge at Yale ticking off the names and nicknames of his fellows, but what is missed is the significance of the nicknaming for George W., which is to control others through the threat of demeaning them with an embarrassing tag. We do see how nicknaming allows him to simplistically regard others, as he calls Cheney "Vice" (yes!) and slaps derogatory names on foreign leaders who fail to come into his war coalition. But the psychological essence of calling other people names is to boast a personality suffering from a poor self-image.
So the 43rd president was simultaneously a vain and self-conscious man acutely aware of his limitations, always working to boast himself up. He went to all the best private schools, knowing of course that only his father's money and prestige got him in, and of course as a C-student felt his miss-measure against the others. Yet he is that C-student who became the most powerful man in the world, and yet he had no idea how to use his power. He became isolated and controlled by the office of the presidency and by those in his inner circle.
There is always the danger when making a film focused on a putatively despicable character that you will by showing his all too human attributes and behaviors make him into an anti-hero with whom the audience cannot help but identify. I'm sure Oliver Stone was aware of this trap, but nevertheless he fell into it. We see George W. on the John, watching ballgames on TV, in domestic embrace with his wife. We see his father favoring the other son. We see George W. fail and fail again, and then we see him give up drinking and become a rousing political success as he helps guide his father's winning campaign for the presidency, as he wins the governorship of Texas and as he becomes president of the United States. In some ways--at least as far as intelligence and compromised morality goes--he rose from greater depths than perhaps any other American president.
But of course without the intervention of his father and being the son of a powerful man, George W. would probably have amounted to little. And so his triumph in becoming the 43rd president is tainted by the full knowledge that, as this film makes clear, he couldn't have done it without his father's influence and his father's name.
The real truth of the phenomenon that is George W. Bush lies not in him or the political dynasty he derailed or the shame he brought on America, but in the fact that so many Americans actually voted for him. He is the product of his times, and these were the times of great moral corruption in America, times in which preemptive war and torture became accepted practice, times in which the Republican Party became the property of people like Karl Rove and Rush Limbaugh, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, Dick Cheney and the neocons, until in 2008 it became a parody of itself with Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber.
Josh Brolin is convincing in capturing the contradictions in W.'s personality while Richard Dreyfuss makes for a surprisingly apt Dick Cheney. Elizabeth Banks as Laura Bush is as pretty as pretty can be, and James Cromwell as the senior Bush is very true to type. Thandie Newton captured well Condoleezza Rice's quality of quiet, submissive loyalty while being able to keep her hands clean. The unavoidable weakness of the casting however is that the characters unfortunately do not look enough like the characters we have seen on TV to fool our eyes.
The script by Stanley Weiser, who also co-scripted Oliver Stone's Wall Street (1987), and Stone's direction are competent but undistinguished and a bit shallow. The right way to make this film in my not so humble opinion is to really show us the evil of George W. Bush, the evil that was tragically the man, and the harm that he did to this country and to the people of Iraq, and to show us how America itself, from the Congress to the media to the pulpit and pew, was manipulated and complaisance in bringing about the tragedy. Instead Stone and Weiser emphasize George W.'s little guy vain personality and the irony of his rise to power....more info
- Stone goes easy...
but even that is cutting. You watch and say "He was elected twice!" What will future generations say?...more info
- Silly and corny
I have seen George W. Bush on TV many times but I confess I knew little about him. Watching this movie, I do not feel that I have learned much about him or what drives him. I could not even identify the character I have seen on TV with the actor. I then read up on George W. Bush in the Wikipedia and I do not think that this movie is a fair representation of the man.
The acting itself is not particular good. No character struck me as playing particularly good except for Toby Jones.
The filming was only ordinary....more info
- So-so movie; poor disk
The movie goes out of its way to try to depict what made George W Bush president and what made President George W Bush a failure, but it has little substance beyond reenacting quotes (usually in the wrong setting) in a loose, disjointed narrative. This isn't a documentary; it isn't a drama; and it isn't really a comedy, tho it desperately wants you to chuckle at times.
The dialog is weak, with characters often telling each other information they both know as a clumsy means of revealing it to the audience (or worse: why would GHWB say to GWB "...our family, the Bush family"?). The performances are good, but sometimes border on overtly dramatic (Wolfowitz and Powell) and plain caricature (Rice and W). Richard Dreyfus's Dick Cheney stands out as a straight-faced comedic character. Bizarrely, Scott Glenn actually underplays Donald Rumsfeld's eccentricities.
The Blu-Ray release looks great (a bit grainy and desaturated, but by choice), but the menu system is bad. There are several trailers at the beginning, and the menu buttons are disabled (you have to use the chapter forward button several times to get thru all of them). The "Filmmakers' Research and Annotation Guide" is a very long series of notes on where various ideas came from, but there is no way out of it. Literally. There is an exit button on screen but I could find no way at all to get to it, and the menu, return, and exit buttons are all disabled.
There is a pretty good commentary by director Oliver Stone, who really needs to stop trying to deconstruct and reconstruct presidents. And there are several other extras of some interest, assuming you liked the film in the first place.
I saw the film because I love the White House and expected numerous scenes in a good replica, but there were rather fewer scenes in the White House than I expected and the sets are not at all very good. The Oval Office and Situation Room are very good, but there is a dining room and an entrance hall that correspond in no way to the real spaces, and other scenes are framed in such a way that you can't even see the room, just the characters. A real disappointment....more info
As usual, we have a producer/director that thinks he knows what's going on in the world; when, in my opinion, it's all in his own mind. The movie, in my opinion, is totally slanted. Portraying W as weak and readily lead to decisions by any one. Tell me, those of you that think that you are so intelligent, what would you have done if you were president when the tragedy of 9/11 happened? How about having the worst hurricane season right after? No, the problems in New Orleans weren't W's fault after Katrina. Look to the governer and mayor (who was elected again although he let New Orleans go to hell during Katrina). At some point the people in the US have to start taking responsibility for themselves. Do I recommend the movie W? Only if you want to push your problems off on the government. Then again, if you want to do that, you have to go back many years....more info
- World Biggest Terrorist = George W. Bush
George W. Bush (son of George Bush Sr, grandson of Prescott Bush and great-grandson of Samuel Bush) comes from a long line of very rich and powerful white Americans.
His father was the president from 1988-1992. His grandfather was big Wall Street executive and his great-grandpa was a tycoon with the U.S. steel company.
He also dabbled in the oil business and baseball before he stole/bought the election from Al Gore in 2000.
This movie chronicles his life as it was paved by his fathers connections.
"W." accomplished nothing in his life on his own. Everything was handed to him because of his family connections, his admission to Yale, to Harvard. His appointment into politics, everything.
Ultimately, he found himself in the position of POTUS which was something he was severely under qualified for.
As a result the nation was destroyed and millions of lives were lost in Iraq and Afghanistan, which this film correctly identifies as solely for purposes of greed for oil and gas in the middle east.
George W. Bush is worse than any leader in world history. Worse than any terrorist or mass murderer the world has ever seen.
The true tragedy is that he will never be held accountable for it.
- Stone proves his irrelevance
All political opinions aside, W. is a huge disappointment of a movie and will more than likely manage to please only the most ardently blind and slave-minded of Bush haters.
To start with, Stone's blind hatred of Bush administration members Rice, Rumsfield and Cheney; and his love affair with Powell is as obvious as a supernova.
Stone tries to portray Cheney as an imperialist and a warmonger, Rice as a brainless court monkey and Rumsfield as a pervert.
The movie contains several instances of complete and utter BS that Stone has trumped up in an attempt to cover the fact that he obviously did next to no real research in the writing of this film and had absolutely no intention of showing the audience anything more than a pack of half truths, misconceptions and flat out lies.
I would say that Stone's film borders on treason if it weren't so completely ridiculous and such a poor representation of reality.
Speaking as an Iraq veteran and former military journalist, and as someone who has actually met and spoken to former Vice President Dick Cheney, Stone is a shameless liar who has proved with this film his irrelevance in the modern world.
The only bright spot of this aging liberal's wet dream of a movie is Josh Brolin's incredible performance as Bush.
- Brilliantly Done!
This movie was brilliant, like most of Oliver Stone's films. Oliver Stone found a way to portray the cocky "ignorance" of this being, in a very "diplomatic" way. I sense that his portrayal of "W." as being a "lost soul" was his way of making the horrible damage that this man did to our country, somehow more palatable. Because had he not given him this fictitious slant, the truth of him would have been too much to take . . what with the depressed state that most of us are living in now, due to this man's gross "ignorance". ...more info
- Oh puhleeeze, Mr/Ms Amazon Snifter, a second chance! I was duhrunk when I wrote it . . .
Four stars because all the demands of this difficult project were met by researchers, writers, lawyers, set creators, casting, wardrobe and makeup, cameramen, director, editors, etc. Oliver Stone could bring it through. Unlike the man the picture is about, who could not.
In making this film, Stone knew he would have to travel a straight and narrow path, lawyers to the left of him, lawyers to the right. All the characters in the film are drawn from still living persons, any one of whom if "maligned" could wield the injunction club and force reshoots or reedits or entomb the master print for a quarter century. Stone and his financiers would be left reeling. Thus we find ourselves at an anticipated Golden Gloves competition, No Punching Profanity Shouting or Spitting Allowed.
In the first portion of this film, I felt like I was caught up in a flash flood. Finally the appearance of Laura calmed me down, here instantaneously was a warm human being. The restaging of the catastrophic White House doings gave me a You Are There simplified refocus on the existent megaton journalistic trove on the same subjects. The physically towering Father Bush was an indulgent exaggeration to make a point. The film evoked no emotion or insight.
You've heard of the Peter Pan syndrome, but maybe not of Kidult or Puer aeternas. These terms, loosely applied, come to me as I see "George W. Bush" in the film. As he envisions himself as the Sports Hero as thousands cheer, as he cockcrows at the frat house, as he saucy flirts with Laura girl, as he stuffs sandwiches into his face, as he bullies, as he makes big hard decisions without a second thought, as he relishes landing on the carrier in a pilot costume, as he finally muddles down tongue-tied at the press conference. (Oliver neglected to include a crucial scene of the President on tv tossing Us the People his bad-cholesterol Texas hushpuppies.)
Peter Pan, Kidult, Puer aeternas, playing with Poppy's gun in the Oval Office. By acclamation and chaddy ballots, Little Boy George, the new leader of Our Gang. (Turn green with envy, Farina.) Well, his eight years of D-minuses and Deportment Poor are over. Somewhere 500 monkeys are keyboarding away, they will either write Hamlet or GWB's Presidential Memoirs. If the latter, it will make millions. But I say Bosh, Mr. Bush, a penny for your thoughts!
- A Stone's Throw Above a Three
You never know with Oliver Stone, whether you will get his penchant for exaggeration, or his ability to bring a character into sharper focus. There wasn't much of the first, but there wasn't much of the second either.
Only a few of the dozens of Bushborne, misfired, verbal synapses came across the screen, but usually in the wrong context, and almost as an afterthought. Stone instead tries to tell us about Bush from his college days onward where we learn of his ability to memorize the names of his fraternity brothers, in short order, without memorizing much else from his four years at Yale. This left me feeling a little cheated. I knew these things. For the person I watched it with, I was hailed with a number of, did-he-really-say/do-that. It was a revelation for her, and this film was much more to her fulfillment and amusement than mine.
One reviewer found the right phrase that I couldn't muster more than a Bushism for what it was lacking. It's as if this movie wasn't sure if it was a comedy or a drama. Josh Brolin does a superb Bush characterization, as does Dreyfus as Dick Cheney, and the one in the role of Karl Rove as the turdblossom toady. The characters for Rice, Powell, and Rumsfeld are less believable, and Powell's one-man fight against the others underscores his departure after one term.
Oliver Stone brings out some of the worst of George who got a woman pregnant back in the days when he still believed in a woman's right to choose. No time is spent in his Air National Guard days, and there is no mention of Bush's pathological childhood behavior, or his slovenliness when he left his apartment with rent unpaid and substantial repair required. We learn how he met Laura Bush who had a profound impression on him--because he started changing his socks everyday rather than three. We do see his early lack of impulse control when Laura confesses that his speech was bad, and he reacts by smashing the car into the driveway door. On an earlier occasion, we see Georgie, three sheets to the wind, driving his car onto the front lawn, amd making a drunken challenge to his fight his father.
What Stone wants to convey is that Dumbya is a loser in spirit and intellect, that his name, his father's accomplishments and contacts bailed him out of one social or career misadventure after another. George showed little patience and even less aptitude for Wall Street or oil drilling while harboring the unrealistic hope that there was some future for him in baseball. It is little wonder that the family put their hopes in his brother Jeb.
This is comedy light and drama light fare that is not bad to watch, but not one you might want to see a second time, especially if you are hoping for some depth and insight in discovering how such a maladjusted personality and such an underachiever could have ever reached the White House. That means it is probably better as a rental from a service or library, rather than as a purchase.
I rate this as a stone's throw above a three.
- Presidential portrait of George W. Bush
Oliver Stone brings on his latest film portraying freshly departed President George W. Bush. It is amazing that the man is barely out of office and film about his 8 year presidency and political career is already out. Josh Brolin gives fantastic performance. This actor seems to be getting better with age.
Stone cowers everything that there is to cover about Bush Junior: from his fraternity days at Yale to failed business enterprises, his meeting Laura Welsh who became his wife, chocking on the pretzel - just about all major snafys we know about the president from his public appearances. I particularly liked the subtle display of W.'s inability to speak proper english, use of words that only W. could come up with (such as "misunderestimated").
While Oliver Stone is taking it easy on Laura Bush, young idealistic librarian who trades her convictions for a comfortable life with the wealthy Bush heir; he takes Bush's cabinet down with the vengeance. No one is spared from his cabinet. Not that either one of them deserves it. They are all sellouts who trade their integrity for the access to power.
Surely, once you have seen this movie, you will be dazed and confused just as W. himself....more info
- Too early
Then again, perhaps it is important to focus on his budding personality flaws before we assess all of the damage he has done to America's image with them. Somehow, Jr. has become something of an enigma-is he evil, or stupid? Stone leans toward stupid, but really, he portrays W as a misguided soul with inner conflicts that played into the hands of major power brokers with their own ideas about the future of the country. In light of all of W's early failures in most of his occupational endeavors, it's a convincing GUT of how Dub worked. Stone takes some of the sting out of all of W's recklessness and blundering and presents you an American portrait instead, which may prove infuriating to a good swath of viewers who are expecting a savaging of the Shrub. Brolin is fabulously all over his role as W, everyone else is solid save for Thandie Newton's mousey take on Condoleeza Rice. She had the look down, but her voice coach should have been flogged.
A special note to idiots: there is no "agenda", no ideology, no "belief system", no "liberal take", or whatever phraseology you've been taught to mouth like automatons in the film. There is no doubt in any rational persons' mind that W's presidency is one of the most controversial to take place in modern history, and it deserves all of the scrutiny it gets. The real effect will be studied much further down the line, but it looks to me like Stone wanted to do a character/personality study rather than put focus on the horrendous mistakes he has made which may take decades to reverse, perhaps more.
It's W the man, not W the monster. You can read a bazillion books about his policies-there is far less journalism on the boy king's inner workings, and we should welcome this angle as a compass to finding out a little more as to why he has done what he has done....more info
- Just How "W." Was No JFK Or Nixon, Neither Is His Oliver Stone Film.
To start let me say that I was hoping to like this alot more than I actually did. Not that it was a complete bust, but with the talent of Oliver Stone and the richness of material on it's main character, it just seems like it should have been more than what it was. Josh Brolin does a decent George "W", but at times reminds one of Timothy Bottoms' or even Will Ferrell's just as good versions played years ago. W. also flashes back and forth from the first signs of the Iraq War showing it's cracks, to W's upbringing from a young college 20 something, then back again, then to being the owner of the Texas Rangers, back to the War, then to his running for Governor, and back again...well, you get the impression that you better take a look at the color of Brolin's hair to figure out just what year it's currently in. Secondary cast members range in acting and appearance from decent to spot-on but not one of them seems too fleshed out within the film's 2 hour and ten minute run time. Strangely, the one secondary character that gets alot of screentime is James Cromwell as Bush Senior, played off as a mean, disapproving father who never really favored W. best. Overall, if your looking for a "best Of Bush" storyline, there's a couple of scenes here to please, but alot of it you already knew from the countless news stories of the past eight years to be engaged by it so soon again. And even though when the film was made, even Bush's own presidental ending hadn't been written yet, it could have been better perceived than what ended up here. But even if Stone had a larger budget or more time (or a later one) to work on it, I doubt it could have been any better. It's a decent rental, but highly doubtful for re-election in your player again. Has a commentary and 17 minute "expert" look back at the Bush Legacy (which is bias and boring), but not nearly enough to recommend blind-buying, even if you did vote for him again in 2004 (thanks alot...).
(RedSabbath Rating:6.5/10)...more info
- Like "The Doors"
Were you present when Jim Morrison died? Neither was I, nor Oliver Stone so we are left to speculate. You can research all you want about W, but in the end, who can say for sure. Perhaps not even the Uniter himself.
With no disrespect, I think he is best forgotten--not the subject of a major movie....more info
- Easy transaction...creepy movie.
The Amazon transaction went smoothly. However the movie was about Dubya and for that reason alone I should have known better. This was no satire. Stone and the cast were true to the subject matter. I guess I thought that I would laugh more but the movie was spot on and made think how lucky we are to have survived the last administration at all. ...more info
- Excellent Portrayal
Josh Brolin does an excellent job portraying the 43rd President. The movie itself lets the public have a glimpse of the inter-workings of The Bush-Cheney White House....more info
- 'W.' Review
Very good movie. Josh Brolen does a great job.
My only complaint is that Oliver Stone went too easy on Bush. ...more info
- Bush jr according to Stone
Like Stones' other biopics of american presidents this is very well crafted. Josh Brolin does a great job starring as Bush jr, and in some scenes he is eerily lookalike. The film alternates between the time just before the invasion of Iraq, and episodes from W:s reckless youth. We get snapshots from the White House, Bushs talks with Powell, Rice, Rumsfeld, Rove and, of course, Cheney. The latter being the important man behind it all is being made clear. We also get episodes from W:s alcoholism, his "rebirth" and most important: the relationship with Bush senior. The heart of the story seems to be this relationship, where senior favors Jeb and find Jr hard to deal with, and where Jr feels patronized and so on. Actually I wonder how true this really is, I mean how much does Stone know about this? And isn't it unethical to speculate about another living man's psyche and shortcomings in a major movie like this, even if it it a former president? The events seems a little too recent for that. Of course, Stone doesn't sink to the garbage level of Michael Moore in this, and all in all the portrait is not wholly unsympathetic. Bush is not depicted as a scoundrel or demonised here. ...more info
- Disappointing if only because expectations were so high
To begin with, I confess that Mr. Stone's other contemporary Presidential biopic, "Nixon," has held my attention and admiration as my third favorite film, ever since I first saw it many years ago. So, it was inevitable that I could be disappointed by this new work, especially without the cinematographer Robert Richardson attached--and yet, I knew better. Here, the subject is G.W., who entered our lives well after the onslaught of epidemic political cynicism and 24-hour news cycles cranked out by media conglomerates. It is in fact Nixon who, Stone argued, marked the beginning of this terrible loss of innocence, making him truly the last great archetype of Greek-tragedy proportions (an aspiration that truly defines Mr. Stone's estimable oeuvre). Adding to that, our sitting President is not an especially nuanced or complicated human being--yet, human nonetheless, and what occurs to me is that any sincere attempt to plumb W.'s humanity could only make him so much more human than the truly villainous figure to whom we attribute countless loss of life and arrogant mismanagement of our centralized government.
That is, to be true, what happens in the film "W." And again, if Oliver Stone is accused of obsessing over Greek mythology, here we can see new pangs reminiscent of Arthur Miller with his skill of dissecting the American family. It is widely reported, and all-too-simplistic, that the underlying conflict of this film is Oedipal, as between George H.W. and George W. But what I believe the viewer leaves with, after watching this film, is not any profound intrigue about that relationship between father and son, but rather the inevitable "Cabinet family" that creeps onto the prodigal son as he plods into his proof that he is stronger than his father, more deserving of his father's love, more deserving than Jeb, and "born again." Indeed, one important discipline I've always practiced during the end credits of a film I care about is eavesdropping, and tonight I heard several iterations of a startling conclusion: Namely, that the message of the film is that G.W. was the victim of a political machine, one that coerced the war in Iraq and numerous other perils that we face today.
Surely this film is a political Rorschach Test, where one political persuasion and the other interprets the film to match their sympathies. But starting from the total wipeout that is G.W.'s disapproval ratings in the year 2008, what I find fascinating is that any competent portrayal of this man's humanity could only endear us closer to him, whatever our persuasions.
There is a central scene in the film, in some kind of war room that I imagine to be under the Ellipse of the White House grounds, wherein the "war trust" lay out their case for invading Iraq without international consensus. (To my taste, Colin Powell is depicted with far too much vigilante heroism here, and I say this as someone who worked for his son Michael and always reserved great admiration for his father the elder General.) In this scene, Mr. Stone almost seems resolved to authenticate the very thing that stumped Sarah Palin--the "Bush doctrine" which is better punctuated as the "Bush" doctrine--giving Cheney and Rumsfeld and Rove and Rice a suspension of disbelief that is not merely literary, but literally tactical. With geopolitical diagrams to boot, the audience is drawn closer to a realization that "reasonable" minds could buy the "Bush" doctrine, the as-played invasion named Freedom. Without going into too much detail, the scene basically depicts a not-so-scandalous point of view (quite historically ordinary) that America is losing her world domination, yet it would be nice to preserve it by military means....more info
WARNING!!! THIS title does NOT work on AUSTRALIAN PLAYERS. Contrary to what this web site says, IT IS REGION ONE!!!...more info
- Bush + Oliver Stone minus Controversy = ???
As Oliver Stone comments -- W. is not really a political movie... its aim is really to get us inside his skin, and see how he came to power... and to that extent, it is meant to be compassionate, since the aim is to get us into his world. And he also comments that he's not a documentary film maker (*well, except for the project that he currently has in production... oops...) Still, buying that, according to him, the film does not have to make a strong political point - - it has to tell a story...
O.K. - - indeed he is right... and to that extent we can understand why the film lacks the intensity of... say one of Woodward's books, ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN - - or heck, a Michael Moore film... but there's a catch: Isn't the whole thing about seeing an Oliver Stone film that whole "underlying social/political commentary" - - the challenging social statements, and the inevitable debate about where the line between fantasy and reality lie, how far Stone crossed it, and whether various scenes are art or sensationalism?
On the other hand, doesn't a director have a right to do something different now and then?
My conclusion: Maybe yes... but the viewer has to understand that when an artist goes outside his own little niche, the genius may or may not necessarily cross over... - - In this case, I think you get his "chops" as a director... minus however, the edgy feel of "inspired genius". (i.e. this is a nicely done movie, but not a DIRECTOR driven film... you are entering into Bush's world, not Stone's... take it however you wish!)
From this perspective, I'll give you my personal opinion:
To do a non-political film about a character as relatively simple as W. to me, just doesn't work.
Clinton or Reagan minus their political careers definitely would stand on their own... but to be honest, the DUBYA story MINUS *any* kind of social or political commentary is ridiculous... Note also that since the topic is so recent, the film can't even have the charm of a period piece... say like NIXON (with its '70s pop culture and fashion).
In the end, no strong Statements are made, few of the scenes are jaw dropping memorable... and the premise is simple: We're to feel sorry for this guy, not hate him as reasons for this are demonstrated in scene after "made for HBO" scene.
As a final note, Stone pulls together, but under-utilizes (misundermates?) a great cast... however, Josh Brolin does carry the film excellently.
So in conclusion: a nice one time watch, but I think its one of the Woodward books that need to be made into a movie... not THIS......more info
- Great Movie
An interesting look at the kinds of individuals that we are supposed to view as leaders. A study of stated goals vs real goals of empire. Josh Brolin's performance is a very convincing GWB. As always, when it comes to contemporary politics, Oliver Stone IS THE MAN. ...more info
- Curve ball for liberals
Who would have thought that Oliver Stone, creator of the paranoid conspiracy flick, "JFK", would ever come up with a largely empathetic portrait of our current president? "W" chronicles the life of George W. Bush beginning with his days as a drunken frat boy through his days in the Oval office dealing with the War in Iraq and its aftermath.
"W" is most successful when we're treated to the 'behind-the-scenes' look at Bush's personality and his interactions with those around him. The most fascinating scenes are the flashbacks which deal with Bush as a young man and his gradual maturation and leap into politics. Josh Brolin does an excellent job capturing the essence of George W. Bush with all his goofy mannerisms. Bush actually comes off as a sympathetic character. Brolin emphasizes Bush's fixation on seeing the world with rose-colored glasses. For Bush, everything is a simple contest between 'good' and 'evil'. His inability to deal with complex issues ultimately leads to policy consequences he's unable to control.
The film is on shakier ground when Stone strays from his tone of behind-the-scenes black humor to heavy-handed political propaganda. This occurs when Stone focuses too much on Colin Powell (who becomes Stone's mouthpiece), with his long-winded dissents over the administration's decision to go to war in Iraq. It's these talky cabinet meeting scenes (particularly in the second half) which slow the movie down. By dealing with dry and familiar political issues and failing to focus on the IDIOSYNRACIES of the characters, one feels as if one is listening to an academic lecture as opposed to viewing scenes fraught with engaging dramatic conflict.
The supporting cast is a mixed bag. Richard Dreyfuss is a dead-ringer for Dick Cheney and does an excellent job of conveying Cheney's 'take no prisoners' philosophy. Toby Jones is less successful as Karl Rove, playing him much 'softer' than he is in real life. I was most disappointed in James Cromwell as George Bush Sr. Whereas Stone made a great effort to have most of the actors resemble those who they were playing, Cromwell doesn't look like George Bush Sr. nor did he make any effort to imitate his voice or mannerisms. Cromwell is better at playing bad guys like in 'L.A. Confidential' or 'Clear and Present Day'; but real life characters need to remind us much more of the real thing. Thandie Newton looks and sounds like Conde Rice but her part is completely underdeveloped. We never get a sense of what she's like as a person (I would have liked to have seen her in a scene where she's playing some classical piano!). Ellen Burstyn as Barbara Bush was okay but seemed a tad bit too young for the part. Elizabeth Banks looks a lot like the young Laura Bush but she never seems to age by the time she's living in the White House. I thought the scene where W. and Laura meet was quite realistic especially with Laura being depicted as opinionated and not willing to be cowed by W. But she never seems to grow as a character in the later scenes (what about all the talk about trouble in their marriage? Or did that come later?)
One gets the feeling that screenwriter Stanley Weiser had access to a a great deal of personal stories about W. and his family which made the film compelling. But he lacked the requisite behind-the-scenes stories concerning the other characters (particularly the cabinet members such as Rumsfield and Colin Powell, who are just there for the history lesson).
"W" is an affectionate look at the strengths and foibles of our current president. Oliver Stone is to be commended for examining the life of George W. Bush with empathy which makes for compelling drama. Some of "W" is talky and preachy but despite its shortcomings, it's definitely worth seeing.
- Restrained, incomplete, timid
W. attempts to depict W 'the man', starting from the premise that us, also known as 'the consumers' or 'the tax payers', the subjects of W's actions are eagerly waiting to be given some hints and clues. We need them so that they may try to understand and possibly excuse the individual who, while at the top of government, was responsible but, so far, not accountable, for the violent deaths of untold thousands, for the suffering, humiliation and the permanent crippling of thousands more, for the waste of trillions of dollars and for the overall dumbing down and trivializing of everything he touched or came close to.
The script Stone used to make the movie attempts to show us what made W tick. W trashed and bankrupted a nation, economically, morally, intellectually, politically. W was the irresponsible and unable decider who triggered events that ended in the death, crippling, humiliation, financial ruin of millions but most of the W. movie focuses on his relationship with 'poppy' and his erzatz religiosity. We get to 'see' poppy, Laura, Bush the mother, Cheney, Condi, Rummy, many others but they are all cartoonish shadows that, somehow, or so the movie tries to make us believe, are giving meaning and substance to W's life. I was not convinced and I wasn't interested.
To those expecting to see W within the context of major events in his life or in America's history, this is what you are not going to see in the movie except for some way too subtle hints:
- W's college life beyond his fraternity initiation
- W's service or lack thereof in the National Guard
- His campaign for the US presidency
- The Florida post-election controversy
- The China aircraft crash incident
- His relationship with Putin
- His relationship with Olmert
- His relationship with Vincente Fox
- His immediate reaction to 9/11 - his reading to kids while the towers were falling
- His post 9/11 'ground zero' glorious moment
- His relationship with the press - those awful, sordid, vulgar comedy acts
- The Homeland Security hysteria
- The show trial and hanging of Saddam
- Torture beyond W's stating that "we don't torture" while signing off on the policy
- The 2004 campaign
- His attempt to reform Social Security
- Valerie Plame and Scooter Libby
- The collapse of the Republican party
- W's second term
What we do get to see is largely caricatures of the people in W's personal and political life with W, strangely, the only one presented with some depth and color. And, yes, the movie IS meant to be about him but what can we learn or see with a Condi that barely speaks, a Rummy that does nothing but utter the sound bytes we're all familiar with, a Cheney that's little more than 'shadowy', sinister and creepy, a Laura obesessed with 'reading' and a popppy concerned with nothing but 'family'? It's W's as a bad boy, W getting religion, W's love-hate-respect-fear relationship with his poppy and some hints at his shallowness and mindlessness. It's all spiced up with the introduction of some of the better known sound bytes of the time: axis of evil, slam dunk, known unknowns, shock and awe, children is learning, freedom, liberty, liberty. The world outside W's make-believe universe is alluded to via brief, subtle, hints: the Congress enthusiastically ebabling W's madness, Pelosi, Hillary, Lieberman, many others applauding and showing approval, chopped off soldiers' painful smiles, angry foreigners demonstrating their rage, Saddam firing buckshot followed by one-ton bombs obliterating Baghdad.
After 2 hours of W., my impression is that Oliver Stone, a notoriously opinionated movie director, was more concerned with producing a 'balanced' portrait that he should have been. It's impossible to portray W 'objectively' while he's still in the White House office. The very missing of W's second term, when the house of cards began its collapse makes W. significantly incomplete. The other possible cause for the many flaws and omissions might be the rush to have W. ready ASAP. I would have gladly waited for another year or 2 for a more complete work. I suspect that Oliver Stone himself wishes he waited a little and that he made a different movie. I also suspect that the real W and his entourage are happy that they have Oliver Stone out of the way, having produced a low-impact dud.
Admission of bias:
I admit that I am not an objective, dispassionate observer when it comes to W-related issues. I've 'read' W the moment I saw him stumping on the national political scene and I could not stand the sight or sound of him - I had the same feelings for his predecessor in the office.
Personally, I don't care or I wish I didn't have to care much about government or governments and who their top dogs are but the government seems to care a lot about me. To the government, I am an asset, a cash cow, a tax-paying, trainable consumer, a breeder of fresh consumers and potential soldiers, a living and glorious illustration of what freedom and liberty can produce in our corner of the zoo - most of us are well fed and have access to clean water. Within such a context, whether I like it or not, my life is touched by the fact that there is a thing we call 'the chief executive' and some call 'the leader of the nation' or even 'the leader of the hmmm... free world (an oxymoron?)'. Reality can't be avoided and W dominated that reality for 8 years. It is important or at least interesting that we understand how the government machinery works and what we need to do in order to avoid being crushed or cowed into involuntary submission.
Knowing all this, and W being what he is, the movie could have been a Shakespeare-like situation comedy. Hey, honey, we shocked and awed the wrong country. Or, let's bomb these schools so than we can later send the military to fix their roofs and take the credit for us being such bleeding-hearts humanitarians. Or... ooops... we thought we would be able to subdue them on the cheap but... look... it's going to cost us a trillion, or two. Or... oooops, we think Iran is the biggest enemy of ours (anyone ever asked why?) but... look... they're more powerful and more influential than ever. Or... hey, we support the troops and we are going to cut some of the vets hospitals funding. But W. is not a comedy.
My final conclusion:
Stone's W. is rather timid, filled with gaps and holes, rushed to market, largely forgettable, incomplete, unconvincing. If anything, it may generate some sympathy for the poor fellow.
I know that mass entertainment can't replace serious scholarship but, then again, who cares about serious scholarship these days? A good post-W. the movie project (is Mr. Stone, anyone listening?) would be that helping us understand 'us', as a nation, country... whatever it is we are. It is us, after all, who elected and RE-elected W. after electing and RE-electing his predecessor. I'll be waiting. Patiently. But I'm not optimistic.
This is where my timid, incomplete, subjective review and rant essay ends....more info
I have always been a big fan of George W.. This movie reveals some of the dark side. I guess we all have a dark side, but this is a no holds barred expose ... Very interesting, very revealing...Good thing it wasn't made before he became President. I highly recommend this film...more info
- "George, stay out of the barrel. Just trust me."
Oliver Stone's "W" had the most uncomfortable effect upon this viewer of generating actual pity for George Walker Bush, a man who has wreaked more destruction and sorrow on the planet than any President in the history of the United States.
My basic attitude toward any Stone film is "big deal" without necessarily seeing the film. I've never understood the OS phenomenon. Particularly with respect to his "political" films, filled with disinformation so far reaching and absurd that one is tempted to call them propaganda. (The film "The Doors" was absolutely awful and a complete waste of a great subject. It's "success" is a consequence of the naivete of the viewers and the "music video" strain in early 90's film.) "JFK" was entertaining in a horror/intrigue sort of way, but at no point was it remotely in contact with reality. "NBK" was just futile depravity shot in really "cool" hues of studio light.
This film, though, garners some real respect. There is not one scene in this move that is sensationalistic or cannot be verified factually. All one need do is crack open a respected bio(psy) of George W.'s reign of terror to corroborate information. "State of Denial" by Bob Woodward was obviously a big influence.
Ellen Burstyn is an actress who has a talent for playing women in some scary/miserable situations. One recent example is "Requiem For A Dream", playing a drug addled mother imbibing speed constantly to avoid acknowledging her son's rapidly escalating heroin addiction. I maintain that I would rather be the mother of the demon possessed Regan MacNeil in William Friedkin's classic "The Exorcist" than the mother of George W. Bush or Bush Sr's wife. As the woman who once told the press that there was no need for her to waste "as beautiful a mind as her own" on the messy business of body counts launched by her husband's insurrections, Burstyn does a fantastic job. All steel.
The madness of the Bush/Cheney administration is given a by turns comical, depressing, and sad treatment. Josh Brolin looks nothing like Bush, but he acts *just* like him: the baseless self confident monkeylike confidence in his every word and physical movement, the innocent Texan swagger which would eventually shoulder it's way through the constitution and economy, and, of course, his complete lack of reading comprehension or intelligible communication skills.
Brolin gives a devastating performance as a never truly grown man who makes every wrong decision possible, all in the interest of pleasing "Poppy", Bush Sr. All he wants to do is please his father, also played brilliantly by James Cromwell. Since he has neither the talent, ambition, intelligence or political skills to do so (as his father gently indicates when Bush bullies his brother out of the Florida Governor's election) this becomes his one goal in life. To be what he cannot be.
When I'd originally heard that Richard Dreyfuss was playing Dick Cheney I laughed. Real loud. The guy from "Jaws" affecting that chilling growl of a voice and hawklike blade of a gaze seemed absurd. (A little like Tommy Lee Jones wearing a dead racoon on his head as Clay Shaw.) I was wrong. He pulled it off, and then some. Cheney casts a dark shadow over every meeting, using every opportunity to push this confused man child's aggressive impulse to "even score with Saddam" and thus outdo his father.
And it works. There's a bit of the "unholy trinity" here: Scott Glenn cuts down Jeffrey Wright's reasonable minded Colin Powell at every opportunity, Toby Jones is fantastic as Rove, the power minded minister of propaganda who teaches Bush the four food groups: and then Cheney, who swoops down every attempt at avoiding war like a starving bird of prey biting into his first newly born worm.
This is a chronicle of failure seen through the eyes of the man held responsible for it as unemployment rises and we slide in to a recession unprecedented since the time of Roosevelt. Millions have died in a senseless war.
The last shot is of a George W. Bush in a baseball field while it rains. He is holding a a glove open, eager to catch the ball. He doesn't.
I felt terrible for Bush by the end of this movie. Do I now, a few days later? No.
A let down...pretty boring. I didn't even finish the whole thing. I rented it mainly because of Josh Brolin and his past roles. ...more info
- Love Nixon, not W.
i saw nixon the day prior and to say i was let down by this one is an understatement... brolin was decent, whoever played the part of rice was horrible... it just seemed like a really poorly acted, scripted movie... no insights, no real life portrayals of the struggles in the white house, especially between bush and cheney in the later years... turned those 8 horrible years into a joke... a horrible joke most of us have suffered through......more info