Josh Brolin in W. (dir. Oliver Stone, 2008).
W. is a movie almost entirely without a point of view. Oh sure, it depicts the Bush presidency and the Iraq invasion as a massive travesty, but that's not a viewpoint; it's just current events. What Oliver Stone and screenwriter Stanley Weiser fail to include is any rationale for why we ought to be interested in W.'s personal background on any level beyond that which should interest students of politics and history. So he had issues with his father and he really liked baseball. So he was really into jogging. So he was ambitious but kind of dumb. So he was human. So what? If the point is that he was a simple, ordinary man who got thrust into a position far beyond his capabilities, fine, but we should then be given either a valid reason to feel sympathy for him, or a mercilessly satirical caricature of the monster this experience turned him into. As it is, he is presented as too oafish for us to like beyond a mild pity, and too confused for us to hate beyond a weary exasperation. The film reduces both his actual humanity and our legitimate outrage to a series of Lifetime TV moments. Everything is too programmatic and too disorderly at the same time: the plotting is both inert and sporadic, lurching and peakless. Moments of "genuine drama" are interspersed with bits of SNL-style lampooning. Stabs at serious journalistic exposé are squeezed uneasily between episodes of parodic soundbite collage. There are interesting performers, but they aren't allowed to give interesting performances. Josh Brolin is very good, but it doesn't do any good. Although I did laugh in the scene where the bespectacled young waiter comes up behind him in the restaurant to tell him he has a phone call, and he looks at him, jumps a little in his seat, and says "whoa, Buddy Holly!"
Labels: Oliver Stone