Thursday, March 15, 2012

Game Change

It seems like every time Hollywood makes a movie portraying a noted Republican as a complete idiot, Conservatives whine that there’s bias. Except when it comes to Nixon. Even Republicans acknowledge that he was a major loon.

The GOP’s latest charge is against the HBO movie GAME CHANGE, which chronicles Sarah Palin’s rise from Alaska governor to Vice Presidential candidate. Clearly, your opinion of this movie will depend on what state you’re in – accepting or skeptical, blue or red?

Personally, I liked the movie (let the angry comments begin!). I thought Julianne Moore was extraordinary as Sarah Palin. If Tina Fey won an Emmy for playing her then Julianne certainly deserves one. And when there’s the big screen version in a few years Meryl Streep will win the Oscar. The only loser playing Sarah Palin is Sarah Palin.

What Julianne did so remarkably was play her real. Yes, there are the (now in retrospect) hilarious scenes when Sarah Palin has to be patiently told who our enemies were in World War II and where those countries are on the map. But we also see her vulnerable side, her charismatic side, and the toll the campaign took on her psyche. By the end of the campaign she’s turned into Frankenstein meets Captain Queeg meets Roseanne, but in fairness – how much is that her fault and how much is just a result of being thrust into an overwhelming situation with zero preparation?

The bottom line is she never should have been put in that position in the first place. This is selecting the most qualified person in America to be a heartbeat away from the President of the United States. It's not casting EVITA.

The public figure who fares the best in this film is John McCain. As beautifully played by Ed Harris (Meryl Streep will win an Oscar for playing him too), he comes off level-headed and sincere. He’s gullible in that he went along with the Palin decision but hey, he was trying to win the Presidency and Danica Patrick was busy racing.

Old pal Woody Harrelson was the campaign mastermind. He was smart, had integrity, made some blunders (Sarah Palin), but you got the sense he genuinely believed in McCain and what he stood for. If Hollywood was really biased they’d have Harrelson’s character drop kick babies.

Another standout was Sarah Paulson as Sarah Palin’s chief campaign advisor/wrangler. Over the course of the film you see her get slowly disillusioned and impatient with the antics and ineptitude of the Yukon Guv until she just snaps. All I could think of was this must’ve been what it was like to be a showrunner on GRACE UNDER FIRE.

GAME CHANGE is currently playing on HBO and HBO ON DEMAND. Meanwhile, the Sarah Palin documentary THE UNDEFEATED that bombed at the boxoffice worse than THE BEAVER plays once in awhile on the Reelz Channel. Which to see? Ken Levine recommends GAME CHANGE. Right-wing wacko nutjob Mark Levin recommends THE UNDEFEATED.  You be the judge.  I would hate to be accused of being biased.

78 comments:

Shelia said...

"Clearly, your opinion of this movie will depend on what state you’re in – accepting or skeptical, blue or red?"

Oh, Ken. Give us some credit.

I'm a conservative, but I can judge a movie (or book or TV show) on more than politics. (Example: I thought "W" was horribly biased and inaccurate, but I thought it was well made and the acting was good. And yes, anyone may disagree with that assessment.)

I have no opinion on "Game Change" at this point because I haven't seen it. (I don't form an opinion before I've had a chance to see for myself, yea though I live in a red state, because that would be prejudging.) And for the record, I haven't seen it only because I've been very busy, not because I'm boycotting it. When I see it, I'll judge it on how good the script and the actors are.

Isn't that how we judge entertainment? On the merits of the art/craft?

Or when the movies about Obama start rolling out, should I automatically assume you love everything about them simply because you like the man?

normadesmond said...

we didn't need a movie to show us that palin was (like her admirers) a low information voter. we all learned that during the campaign and since.

that she was so uncooperative and belligerent with the people most anxious to help her was eye-opening.

once the film ended, i kinda broke out in a sweat, thinking of what mighta, coulda been.

Anonymous said...

This, and a couple of other blogs, are having this "pity party for Palin". How the poor thing was thrust unprepared into the real world. She was the Governor of a state! I don't think the political machine blundered in assuming, I dunno, that she graduated high school? Knowing who the major players were in WW II is not specialized Presidential Candidate information.

She just shows how broken the political system is, that she reached the office of mayor, let alone governor.

Fabian said...

Your description Mark Levin made my smile.

As a European the whole concept of conservative political talk radio shows seems strange. Of course I have heard about it, but that this kind of radio is so popular remained a mystery to me.

Recently I decided to add Mark Levin's show on my podcast list. After the first try I removed it again - I found it bizarre. That people would listen to fact-free rants which have a repetition frequency of about 1 minute seems absurd.

I hope I get a chance to see the movie anytime soon - it sounds interesting.

Mister Charlie said...

I too (being deeply blue stated) was surprised to find myself feeling sorry for her at times, seeing that she WAS put into this position and how stressful it had to be...and she was strong enough to prevail or at least start a whole new career out of the ashes. I dislike Palin intensely, but I also now respect her, something I never did before.

RCP said...

Whatever sympathy I might have had for Palin dried up as she went (and continues to go) around the country spreading "misinformation" and actively trying to divide Americans - in the process raking in millions for herself. In short, I don't dislike her because she's a conservative, I dislike her because she's a liar who does damage. If she were a victim in the beginning, she certainly turned it to her advantage.

On a more mature note: What I wouldn't give to see a debate between Sarah and Bella Abzug - preferably in the wrestling ring.

Janet T said...

First- the book was much better, chronicling the entire campaign, both Repubs and Dems. The Obama/Clinton half was just as interesting. And while the movie portrayed McCain as you described, the book had a different take on things (how much he hates Romney for one, so to see McCain endorse him this year was interesting)
But this is what we get and deserve as constituents if we are just looking at charisma versus substance.
I thought the movie was fine, as it was. I had to keep stopping the recording so my husband could pick his jaw up off of the ground due to the many stupid actions of Palin, as well as the things coming out of the former Governor’s mouth. I had forgotten he did not read the book, and wasn’t prepared for it.

Harvey the Rabbit said...

I live in California, is this state blue or red? It's really hard to tell sometimes.

Great Big Radio Guy said...

Harvey...it's blue until a GOP celebrity runs for office.

I loved Game Change. The bonuses for me were seeing Heileman and Halperin doing cameos as reporters, and the fact that they never made any reference to "the wink." They did a great job at the inside stuff without dwelling on what we already knew, which turned out to be five times more frightening.

McElroy said...

Thanks for what sounds like a fairly unbiased review. Yes, a lot of people will trash it because they don't like how it portrays Palin, I've seen those reviews, too. But what I usually notice is that they don't deny, either. I think that says more than any movie could. In reality, the blame for what happened lies with a lot of people, including Palin herself who had the option of saying no. Surely she realized, if nobody else did, that she wasn't qualified. If not, if she knew so little about herself, that says a lot, too.

Still, it's hard to fairly judge a movie when it's still all so close to home. We'll have to wait until it feels less personal to people and let history itself judge how accurate the movie was.

Can't wait to see Meryl Streep portraying McCain ... or was it Ed Harris? And you know, she'll probably pull it off, too.

Jason said...

I would rather a leader of low intelligence and high integrity than a leader of high intelligence and low integrity.

I just watched Eric Holder argue that he can kill me without a trial. I highly doubt that argument would even have occurred to the girl from Wasilla. And that is why she had to be destroyed, and why it is vital to keep on kicking her - to only make sure she never threatens the status quo, but so that anyone else who might gets the message. Government isn't for people like you.

Tim W. said...

Good review. I saw it and also felt some sympathy for Palin, although I probably spent more time shaking my head at her.

@ Anonymous (really? You couldn't leave your name?)

Yes, Palin was the governor of Alaska, a state with a population similar to Charlotte, North Carolina. And 19 months before she was picked, her biggest claim to fame was of the mayor of a town of 7,800.

And while I sympathize with her being thrust into the situation she was, I don't have sympathy for a person who was so lacking in intellectual curiosity that she would rather memorize a script than learn about what she was saying.

Lastly, I can't stand this belief that voters want to vote for someone they can relate to. Palin was running for a position where she might have ended up as leader of the most powerful country in the world. I don't want someone I can talk to at a BBQ. I want someone who blows me away with their intelligence.

Anonymous said...

The line about the enemies in WW2 isn't in the book. What is in there is Bill Clinton saying a few years ago this guy would have been getting us coffee. Somehow a woman who was governor of a tiny population state for two years and a candidate for national office for two months has managed to be the focus point of Hollywood obsession.

MikeN said...

That picture of Ed Harris is unsettling. Perhaps it's just anyone who tries to appropriate that look. I wish they had just had Ed Harris with his regular look.

Bob said...

Call me crazy, Jason, but if a person is to be given control of a nuclear arsenal, they'd better have high intelligence and high integrity. A nation of three hundred million people ought to be able to find at least one of those.

-bee said...

I don't have cable so am only going by what I've seen in reviews, but did this movie address the Koch Brothers (and/or their ilk) and their interaction with the GOP - because if not I would view the whole thing as a fantasy.

As for McCain, just the fact that he backtracked so pathetically on his formerly strong stand against torture says it all about him.

Not that I would paint Obama as a saint by any means, but unfortunately in a world with very few heroes all things are relative.

Larry said...

Sorry to disagree, but I thought it was horrible. I never for a second believed Julianne Moore was playing a real person. Perhaps she didn't play it real because the part wasn't written as real--it was more a fake dingbat than the actual person. This may make for a sympathetic character, but not a real one. Too bad we've so caricatured the woman in real life that we think this is what she's actually like (as witnessed by so many who've seen the show and believe it's accurate).

As far as the actual events portrayed in the film, time and time again what happened in the real world was twisted into simplistic caricature.

A better title for the show would have been "Any Resemblance To Real Persons, Living Or Dead, Is Purely Coincidental."

The book is pretty decent, by the way. That I'd recommend.

Anonymous said...

Name one unflattering Hollywood portrayal of a Democrat. Where's the portrayal of Jimmy Carter as earnest but feckless? Where's the portrait of LBJ's Great Society as a failed effort to end poverty that created a treasury draining entitlement class?

Mike said...

You forgot John Travolta in Primary Colors. OK, that's not Clinton but Southern Governor Jack Stanton. And yes, Travolta toned it down after Clinton made a speech in support of Scientologists being imprisoned or some such, but still, they have Clinton killing off the woman who found out about his love child.

Anonymous said...

Where are the movies skewering Democrats? Seems like Hollywood is only interested in making films blasting their political "enemies" which, of course, isn't divisive at all. Divisiveness, by the way, is something Democrats like to blame Republicans for but somehow find themselves free of any responsibility for doing it themselves. When they do it, it's "speaking truth to power."

So where are the movies offering critical looks at Democrats? When there was a movie assigning blame to both parties for 9/11 (Path To 9/11), the Clinton machine stomped their feet and tried to suppress it. Speaking of Clinton, where is the Clinton-Lewinsky movie? Or the Jimmy Carter movie?

As for Palin, at least she was a successful Governor of a state. What experience exactly did Obama have to hold the most powerful seat in the world? Did he ever hold a real-world job in his life?

Thankful she didn't win said...

It was fun to watch, but it struck me as more on the nose in a TV movie kind of way vs. nuanced in a classic movie kind of way. I also found it difficult believing McCain's famous temper was in check as much here when his political life was on the line. You can see how he bristles when he's on camera. Off camera, I'm surprised he didn't erupt more.

D. McEwan said...

"Anonymous said...
Where are the movies skewering Democrats?"

Primary Colors
, the recent mini-series The Kennedys which was an anti-Kennedy right-wing nutball hatchet job on The Kennedys, and won undeserved Emmys last year. There are others, but they seldom do well, because making villains of the good guys to further a sick political agenda doesn't play as well as making the Evil People the Bad Guys does.

(Why are the right-wingers here so often the ones posting anonymously? Oh yes, cowardice and, I would think, deep personal shame over being a right-winger.)

Ken Levine wrote: "in fairness – how much is that her fault and how much is just a result of being thrust into an overwhelming situation with zero preparation?"

In fairness, all of it! Oh yes, the staff who put her up are also culpable, but then, they can be more easily forgiven for assuming a 44 year old grandmother and GOVERNOR OF A STATE would already know on her own who we fought in World War II, basic World Geography 101, what "The Fed" is, that Korea is two seperate countries (She never watched M*A*S*H growing up?), that Queen Elizabeth II is not the British head of Governement, you know, the stuff most of us had to know to receive a high school diploma. I guess in Alaska, if you can tell them where the school is located, you get a diploma.

No, it is on HER that she never bothered to learn anything, that she thinks ignorance is okay, and even cool, and that SHE accepted the nomination for an office whose duties she did not know. It is on her that she believes her ignorance is not only as good as, but actually PREFERABLE to having a real education. That Bush "Knowin' Stuff is Elitist" garbage is her motto.

To pass the 8th grade and get into high school back when I did in 1964, you had to pass a rigorous test on The Constitution. I got an A+ on it. Palin repeatedly demonstrated that she could not pass that test - EVEN NOW! How the Hell did she get into high school at all?

I see her taking a high school Geography final, filled with questions like "Locate Europe on this map" or "Is Africa a country or a continent?" and shrieking at the harried teacher: "Hey! These are all 'Gotcha' questions!"

Sarah, you dimwit, Life is a series of Gotcha Questions.

I look forward to seeing this film when it becomes available to we who subscribe not to HBO, based on the many reviews, even if it is, as all reviews tend to indicate, too soft on McCain.

For McCain to really regain the respect he's lost from me (because prior to 2008, he was the rare Repulsivan that I had some respect for. No More), he would need to have been shown finally seeing in full what he himself was placing one old-man's-heartbeat away from the United States Presidency, and have gone into the ballot booth and quietly voted for Obama.

Brian said...

It's a good flick. I thought Sarah Paulson stole the movie, but Ed Harris, Julianne Moore and Woody were outstanding as well.

Sarah Palin with power petrifies me, and yet I felt myself connecting and (gasp) feeling something approaching sympathy for her. If an actor can make someone that unlikeable seem human, that's a pretty impressive performance in my book.

-bee said...

Anon 2:25 said: Where are the movies skewering Democrats?

Actually, as many of these films about GOP figures soft-peddle their venality, I would say that in a sense they are in actuality subtly propping them up.

But let me ask you this, does it rankle you equally that talk radio is so dominated by right-wing figures?

Anonymous said...

Talk show hosts on commercial talk radio live and die by the market. If enough people stop listening to a host, the show will go away. If what Rush Limbaugh said truly "offended" droves of people, those people would stop listening, which would reflect in the ratings. Those people would stop supporting sponsors, which would reflect in a drop in sales, and left wing groups like (only one side of the) Media "Matters" wouldn't try so hard to silence him. The market would do the silencing on its own.

D. McEwan--

Sorry you went personal. Makes one wonder why many on the left are so aggressively nasty all the time?

Sue said...

I cant believe I am going to say this but for once I applaud the long winded (no disrespect intended) D.McEwan...and Bee. As for depicting Democrats with the same ruthlessness as Republicans see a George Clooney movie called The Ides of March. I know it was not about a real person but it could have been. As he put it himself "the Democrats will enjoy the first half of the movie but the Republicans will be very happy with the second half."

D. McEwan said...

"Anonymous said...
D. McEwan--
Sorry you went personal. Makes one wonder why many on the left are so aggressively nasty all the time?"


From putting up with the aggressive nastiness of Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove, Glen Beck, Sarah Palin, every one on Fox News, Ted Nugeunt, last week a nasty chime-in from Patty Heaton. The right wallows in nastiness and persoanl affronts, it's their go-to tck-in-trade. I wasn't people on the left calling a college student tetifying before congress "a slut" and "a Prostitute," and begging them to post sex tapes online. No that was the right-wing God of Nastiness, Rush Limbuagh. Yet the right-wing, like Mr or Miss Anonyous Coward here, ALWAYS plays the victim card whenever their own tactics are turned back on them. Oh boo-hoo.

But how can I be getting personal with someone who is anonymous? You could be any craven coward out there. At least the above-named bullies and purveyers of right-wing nutjob nastiness all give their names, jst as I do. They're evil, but at least they're not craven cowards like you, Anonymous.

404 said...

But Bill Maher calling Sarah Palin a c*nt is okay, right?

Seriously, guys, if I wanted to listen to both right- and left-wing drivel I'd go somewhere else. It's one thing to talk sensibly, but sensible talk-on BOTH sides of the aisle-went out of fashion a long time ago.

Neither side has a market on name-calling, fear-mongering, and hating, and no one seems to try and tone it down, because the other side is "doing it". It's like the country's biggest childest hissy-fit.

And I for one am fucking goddamn sick of it.

Phillip B said...

Anonymous must not have been alive during the Vietnam war- the show business attacks on LBJ came mainly from the left, where the anti war movement lived in the 1960s.

John Frankenheimer's "Path to War" did not come until 2002, but is devastating. Great cast with Michael Gambon as LBJ, Don Sutherland as Clark Clifford, and Alec Baldwin as Robert McNamara. (Sutherland got the Emmy, Meryl Streep did not appear -- Felicity Huffman played Lady Bird.)

And for what it is worth, Peter Sellers supposedly said President Merkin Muffley In Dr. Stranglove was modeled on Adlai Stevenson. Not exactly a profile in courage and, of course, made during the build up of the Vietnam War.

Not surprised "Game Change" creates some sympathy for Palin. The late Molly Ivins talked about feeling sorry for Nixon and was unapologetic - as she said "birds gotta fly, and liberal hearts gotta bleed."

RJ Battles said...

I saw GAME CHANGE the other night and I think everyone did a good job.

I felt bad for Sarah Paulson's character- it must've been rough trying to steer Palin in the right direction.

The one thing that really bothers me about Sarah Palin is back when someone asked her about Paul Revere and she gave that strange answer. That's fine. A lot of people- including me- don't have complete knowledge of American history.

But afterwards, Palin claimed that her answer was technically correct by twisting things around. I would've liked her if she'd just said, "I really embarrassed myself the other day with my answer to the Paul Revere question. I'm sorry to say that there are a lot of gaps in my knowledge of American history. I missed a few things the first time around, and, unfortunatly, once you hit your 40s and you're working full-time and raising a family it's hard to catch up on everything".

Also, the thing I hate the most about politics is the way that people take sides- meaning they refuse to admit the faults of certain people just because they're in the same party.

Tom R. said...

Hi Ken, Love your work, admire your work, and respect you. I don't agree with you politically but respect your opinion. Conservatives are used to being called idiots, racists, homophobes, and religious zealots. I don't care what people do in the privacy of their own homes, their preferred method of birth control, or what race or religion a person is. I respect hard word, honesty, and ingenuity. I couldn't disagree with Bill Maher more, but hey, he's funny. In the interest of equal scorn for idiots: Who casted Nancy Pelosi as 3rd in line for the Presidentcy? Is is wise to cast someone as President with no record of accomplishment anywhere ad no job ever in the private sector. God Bless you Ken.

Dan Tedson said...

Not all TV and movies are biased, but as a whole they certainly are. It always drives me crazy whenever otherwise bright peeps don't see it. I'm not a Republican or a Democrat (I'm a Rastafarian), but I friggin hate an uneven playing field. I'd beat Barry Bonds to death with a shoehorn if I could.

When O'bama (I like my president black irish) took office, SNL eventually got around to weakly (as opposed to weekly) panning him. Next thing you know, actual national articles - "Is it right for SNL to criticize our president?"

Wow. Just... wow.

You have the fact that the majority of people who go into the arts are Democrats to begin with, add to that the regional bias of having the entertainment hubs located in two of the most Democratic states, a touch of Republicans alway trying to cut art funding, and Viola!

I mean, think about it. How many Democrat actors/actresses can most people name off the top of their head? Now how many Republicans? First number bigger? Why is that? Because the former are vocal and the latter almost have to be outed. Like the inscription Descartes chose for his tombstone - "He who hid well, lived well," but with a Full House vibe and introducing George Hamilton as the piece of wax.

Breadbaker said...

The really interesting questions about Palin are never asked.

The first is this: what if she was the person she was represented to be, i.e., a maverick governor in Alaska who had fought both corruption and the oil companies and was liked by people of all political persuasions? Given the economy in the fall of 2008, that probably wouldn't have elected McCain but it might have made the election closer.

The second, more intriguing to me, is this: if I knew that characterization was bullshit before McCain even nominated her, why didn't McCain and his people? It's part of my business to follow Alaskan politics, and I was looking at a website about the Ted Stevens trial when I first came across Troopergate. John McCain's image is as of the "incorruptible". An appropriate running mate for John McCain would have told all her underlings that whatever happened, her ex-brother-in-law was to be treated by the book and if that didn't happen, heads would roll. Instead, we have underlings stating they were talking on behalf of the governor that the ex-brother-in-law was to be gotten rid of, and nothing happens to those underlings. That's not a John McCain running mate (at least per his intended image). So if I knew that before McCain nominated her (and I remember at the time I read this going, "well, she's not going to be considered for VP based on this"), why didn't Steve Schmidt, or, more to the point, John McCain?

Brian Phillips said...

From Anonymous: "Where are the movies skewering Democrats?"

They are there, if you look hard enough.

George A. Romero's Martin - Van Buren as a vampire. Ultimately untrue, but based in fact.

Mildred Pierce - The White House as seen by Franklin Pierce's grasping first wife.

The Boys in the Band - The real story about James Buchanan.

Hot in Cleveland - Grover Cleveland's first movie credit. Softcore. Not in his official bio.

Dirty Harry - Harry S Truman. This time, it's personal.

The last two, I cannot verify:

James Polk (2009)

Wilson (1944) - Purportedly about "Woodrow" Wilson, like we'd elect a junior bartender from Hanover for President!

Get your facts straight the next time, Anonymous.

Brian Phillips

Marty Fufkin said...

When Republicans whine about Game Change, I don't get it. The movie actually makes Republicans look compassionate and intelligent -- except for Palin.

If there is a message in the film, it's that Republicans are bright, humanist, and credible, and that Palin is not representative of the broader party brand. Whether that's accurate or not is for others to judge.

But as a Democrat supporter, I came away from Game Change with a more positive impression of Republicans in general.

Arte DeBerghi said...

To Mr Anonymous who asks, Where are the Hollywood movies that skewer Democrats?

Don't ask us. Ask your fellow Republicans in Hollywood. Mel Gibson, Bruce Willis, Gary Sinese, James Woods, Kelsey Grammer, Vince Vaughan ... They're all free to make Republican-themed films. And so were Ronald Reagan, Charlton Heston, Ron Silver, Cecil B. DeMille, back in their day. There are websites devoted to Republicans in Hollywood, just Google them.

Don't say the "liberal Hollywood studios" won't fund anti-Democrat movies. Studios will make any movie that will make big money. The anti-Clinton Primary Colors got made, didn't it? The Clinton-era Wag the Dog also got made. Or Republicans can fund their own movies, like Mel Gibson did with Passion of the Christ. So ask them where all the Democrat-bashing movies are. They can make 'em if they want.

Why are films with left-leaning messages more likely to get made? People on the left are more interested in social, human causes (they don't call it socialism for nuthin), which makes for good drama. A film about human triumph over corporate greed is far more gripping than one about the triumph of tax cuts over building schools. Even if you think the tax cuts are the right thing and that the school can be funded better by other means, it just ain't gonna sell tickets.

benson said...

Just like liberal radio doesn't work, neither do Republician movies. It's not a sinister conspiracy. It's good business. Period. There's little liberal radio, because it won't garner ratings in most markets. (Same reason Fox News anihilates MSNBC and CNN. Same thing with GOP movies; people won't plunk down x number of dollars to see them.

And let's be fair here. I won't tell you you can't listen to Bill Maher, and you don't me I can't listen to Rush. I guess that makes me a Libertarian.

-bee said...

benson, etc.

I did not bring up talk radio's devotion to right-wing hate mongers so much as a complaint but as a basis to challenge an anon's whining that movies/tv do not give 'equal' time to bashing democrats.

However, it would SEEM the same anon later posted to say its quite all right for the radio to be dominated by right wingers because they get the ratings and the market is always right.

Following that logic through, it would seem that based on the fact that more 'pricy' entertainments like HBO and theatrical movies might be perceived as 'catering' to the left, whereas a far less expensive-to-access radio panders to the right, it would follow that the majority of people on the right are poor and barely getting by, whereas on average those on the left are far more financially successful.

Larry said...

Why are people saying Primary Colors is an anti-Democrat or anti-Clinton film. Yes, they have their quirks, but the main point of the movie is Jack Stanton (Bill Clinton) is smart, connects with the public and deeply cares about people. The final message is no matter how many personal problems he has, he's the right leader for our times and--it almost goes without saying--is incomparably better than the Republicans, who are simply evil. Please note at the end Stanton becomes President and it's a happy ending.

Mark Patterson said...

This is probably a quibbly bit, but I was disappointed that Ed Harris didn't give imitating McCain's distinctive diction a decent shot. I understand that he can't do anything about the pitch of his voice. But when Julianne Moore is hitting the accent work out of the park, Harris' performance jarred me out of the movie every time he spoke.

Maybe it's for the best...did anyone really want to hear Kevin Costner attempt an English accent in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves?

Also, I don't believe that the Travolta character in Primary Colors killed anyone...didn't the Kathy Bates character shoot herself? In the cut I saw, she gets into her truck, pulls a short distance away from all the houses, parks, and she's in her truck (where it's established that she has a gun) by herself, and the gunshot goes off. Perhaps Mike saw a different movie than I did. Or was he not talking about the Kathy Bates character?

I enjoyed Game Change a lot. I have to say that the Republicans depicted therein don't seem to be evil jerks...I had sympathy for all the characters except Palin. I kept yelling at the screen 'they're trying to help you! They know stuff you don't! LISTEN TO THEM!' But she didn't. It's like watching Romeo and Juliet...you think that THIS time, maybe they'll make it. But they don't.

I especially liked Woody Harrelson's character...a committed, decent enough guy on the other side, who steps in it. Who hasn't done that from time to time?

I know lots of smart Republicans. Just very few that run for office.

Anonymous said...

I apologize for posting anonymously (I know you hate that), but my source for this info shares my last name, and I don't want to out him.

I don't get HBO and haven't seen "Game Change," but I've read a lot about it. And I work in the media in a job that requires me to read and write about news, so I'm intimately familiar with the details of the 2008 election. I also got inside info because a close relative of mine worked very high up in the Republican National Committee and had been involved in major GOP electoral campaigns for years.

He told me that the party's internal polls (which are generally more accurate than the ones for public consumption) showed that not only did Palin not cost McCain the election, but she was the only thing energizing the base and without her, he would've lost by at least 10 more points than he did. Also, long before any of these stories started appearing about Palin being a ditz, a diva, a clothes horse, etc., he told me that he was only too familiar with the people hired to run the McCain campaign, and he despised them. He considered them to be incompetent snakes. He told me, "Mark my words, they are going to tank this campaign, and then they're going to do what they always do: use their friendly media contacts to smear a scapegoat so they can escape the blame and get hired to destroy the next poor unsuspecting candidate's campaign."

It was only two weeks or so after he said that that I suddenly began seeing stories pop up in the media about how dumb and difficult Palin was, always credited to an "anonymous inside source in the McCain campaign." Many of the stories, too, were completely at odds with previous stories I'd read about Palin. For instance, that she was so dumb, she didn't know who we fought in WWII or that she had such a bad memory that she struggled even to memorize simple flash cards for the debate. I recalled a non-conservative reporter, I believe for CNN (just going on memory here), who spent quite a bit of time with Palin on the bus and said she came away impressed with her intelligence and what she described as Palin's near-photographic memory.

Now, I see from Ken's review that in this movie, which was based on a section of the book that is largely based on the accounts of the two people who ran McCain's campaign, that the two most sympathetic figures in the film are the two people who ran McCain's campaign. What a coin-kee-dink! Why, the poor, long-suffering dears had to put up with that incompetent, scatterbrained diva Sarah Palin, who was obviously to blame for the electoral debacle that they had been paid handsomely to manage.

To quote Steven Sondheim: "Yes, it's her fault! Yes, it's her fault! And it isn't mine at all!"...

Watch the movie if you like, but take it with enough grains of salt to give yourself hardened arteries.

Barry Traylor said...

I'm a bit puzzled why the right-wing loons weren't upset with the movie about Clinton (can't recall the name). I seem to remember it was not all that kind to him.

Barry Traylor said...

Just had an additional thought. I was ready to vote for McCain in 2008. At first I thought way to go John for choosing a woman to be your running mate, until she opened her mouth and I realized how ignorant she was and was PROUD of it.

DJ said...

Anonymous at 4:55--

If you're concerned about using your real name, use a pseudonym.

Henry d said...

It was a good movie, but failed too depict Palin's nastiness, which made her far more sympathetic than she deserves. Even her "paling around with terrorist" comments somehow lacked the bite they had in real life.

It's as if Moore's decency got in the way of an accurate depiction.

I resent being made to feel bad for Palin and now feel I need to go back and watch some real footage to remember what a vile, divisive person she is.

Anonymous said...

To DJ:

Okay, consider my post to be under the pseudonym, "Ann O'Nymous."

Pete Grossman said...

In Game Change Ms. Palin says "It's God's will" that she was chosen to run for VP. If so, we dodged a "nucular" Armageddon.

Mike said...

I was thinking of Kathy Bates. I remembered the ending wrong, though a suicide driven by your activities isn't exactly a positive light.

Anonymous said...

D. McEwan--

Anger management anyone?

signed,
Double Secret Super Anonymous.

Steve from Vermont said...

I'm not sure how any movie can be more hilariously entertaining than the real Sarah Palin. The woman is to political discourse what Casey Anthony is to motherhood.

sanford said...

Generally speaking I don't think there are anti-democrat movies because in general I don't think they are as interesting. Some one mentioned Carter and LBJ. What would be interesting about Carter? Johnson was certainly a forceful personality but I don't know if he in interesting enough for the cinema.

As far as radio goes I would like to know why progressive radio would not be interesting. After all the country is pretty much down the middle.

DJ said...

Well, I was thinking of you as "Nitwit", but Ann it is!

DJ said...

If someone were to do an adaptation of Robert Caro's series of books on LBJ, that would be fascinating. Because of the breadth of material, it might be best as an HBO mini-series such as John Adams.

Think of the story arc: a dirt-poor boy from Texas ruthlessly and unscrupulously climbs the ladder to the top, then (as Caro posits, power does not corrupt, it reveals), he remembers back to the poor people he grew up with, and whose children he taught as a young schoolteacher, and resolves to do something for them...all the while getting deeper and deeper into Vietnam.

Jake Mabe said...

Haven't seen "Game Change." Want to. Don't get HBO. Read the book. Liked it.

I'm in the minority, I know, but I don't consider Nixon a loon. I think he was an intelligent, flawed man, the American enigma. Hollywood has made good movies about him ("Frost/Nixon") and quaint pieces of fiction (Oliver Stone's "Nixon.")

He is the most fascinating political figure of my lifetime.

Mike Barer said...

Yes, the GOP outdid the Dan Quayle choice. I can't wait to see Game Change, well written review.
I'm a strong Democrat and lean left, but I don't think we can paint all Conservatives or Republicans with one stroke. I have met decent people from each side of the aisle. Many Cons can't stand Limbaugh and such, and many Repubs have crossed the aisle to vote with Democrats on human rights issues.

Jeffrey Leonard said...

The person who is attacking the comments using "Anonymous" instead of their name is a coward. If you really mean what you are saying, let us know who you are.

D. McEwan said...

"Mike Barer said...
Yes, the GOP outdid the Dan Quayle choice."


My late mother, herself a lifelong Republican until George Bush Senior got her to change and vote Democrat for the first time ever (and this was a woman who had voted in every presidential election since 1942, proudly votiung against FDR whoever ran against him, a woman who voted for Nixon many times), used ot refer to Dan Qyale as Bush Senior's "Assassination Insurance."

Her theory was that Bush selected Quayle the massively incompetant and demonstrably stupid Quayle as his running mate to instill in potential assassins the fear of assassinating him to avoid ending up with "President Dimwit."

I think she may well be right. Though Bush Jr. took the opposite approach (The incompetant Dimwit WAS president, while the Evil Mastermind, Darth Cheney, ran the country from the VP's office), the only possible explanation for the nomination of Palin as VP was as McCain's Assassination Insurance.

Unfortunately, it would have left America without "Senility or Death-From-Extreme-Old-Age Insurance."

"Anonymous said...
D. McEwan--
Anger management anyone?
signed,
Double Secret Super Anonymous."


DSS Anonymous, have you tried Insanity Management?

Mel Ryane said...

I agree with you entirely, Ken. It was a great behind the scenes look at a gigantic political mistake involving human beings and the possible jeopardy of our nation.

Anonymous said...

"...DSS Anonymous, have you tried Insanity Management?"

I don't even know what that means. I did think of more Republican bashing movies to add to the list...

Fahrenheit 9/11
Recount
The Assasination of Richard Nixon
Fair Game
The Reagans


...yeah, yeah, I know: "But Primary Colors!!"

The question still remains: where are all the Democrat smear films? Surely there has to be an Anthony Weiner movie in the works somewhere.

Mike Barer said...

D McEwan, You are cracking me up!

D. McEwan said...

"Anonymous said...
The question still remains: where are all the Democrat smear films?"


Why are you asking us? It's your evil and, like yourself, excruciatingly stiupid cronies who want them made. Why don't you ask your "friends" at your coven? Ask the people who made the Democrat Smear mini-series The Kennedys.

But it's typical right-winger "thinking" that one should make smear films. We on the left do not make smear films. a picture like Game Change merely presents the hideously ugly truth about the Satan's Party, I mean the wrong-wing. Reality has a Liberal bias.

"Mike Barer said...
D McEwan, You are cracking me up!


Thanks. I try. I don't crack up "Anonymous," but then, he cracked up ages ago. Too bad the asylum started allowing him Internet access after Nappy Time.

VP81955 said...

DJ said...

If someone were to do an adaptation of Robert Caro's series of books on LBJ, that would be fascinating. Because of the breadth of material, it might be best as an HBO mini-series such as John Adams.

Think of the story arc: a dirt-poor boy from Texas ruthlessly and unscrupulously climbs the ladder to the top, then (as Caro posits, power does not corrupt, it reveals), he remembers back to the poor people he grew up with, and whose children he taught as a young schoolteacher, and resolves to do something for them...all the while getting deeper and deeper into Vietnam.


I concur that an LBJ movie would be fascinating -- the most important civil rights legislation of our generation was signed by a man from rural Texas! -- but I sense he simply isn't the type of protagonist that a film studio or HBO would be interested in. He graduated from a relatively obscure teachers college, not an Ivy League school, so products of the meritocracy are automatically suspicious of him. There is that Texas tinge to him as well, scaring elites on either coast. He had political charisma, but not the kind that translates into entertainment.

Too bad, because he accomplished quite a bit in his 5+ years in office, only to be undone by a war his predecessor started and an anti-war movement that in retrospect was more interested in saving its bacon than in helping minorities and the poor.

D. McEwan said...

"VP81955 said...
[LBJ] graduated from a relatively obscure teachers college, not an Ivy League school, so products of the meritocracy are automatically suspicious of him. There is that Texas tinge to him as well, scaring elites on either coast. He had political charisma, but not the kind that translates into entertainment.

Too bad, because he accomplished quite a bit in his 5+ years in office, only to be undone by a war his predecessor started and an anti-war movement that in retrospect was more interested in saving its bacon than in helping minorities and the poor."


Good Grief, VP81995, this is the first time I've seen a loony posting from you.

Members of the "Meritocrasy," you know, we who believe it's accomplishment that should be rewarded, not how rich robber-baron Daddy is, would welcome LBJ as a perfect example of a meritocrasy-in-action. Those who think you must attend an Ivy league school to be worthwhile are NOT the Meritocrasy, they are the Entitlement Ones, who live on inherited wealth. Scum like the Bushes. So right off, you libel the Meritocrasy.

You talk of his being Texan as scaring the "elites" of either coast. "Elites" is, of course, a right-wing buzz word for people with educations and taste. People with actual educations already know what LBJ did and did not accomplish. That statement was just idiocy. Those of us with educations are well aware that Texas has turned out the occasional good politician, LBJ, Ann Richards. They don't do it anymore, but they did in the past.

But you're not through. You then go on to tar the anti-war movement of the 1960s and 70s with a casual, cynical unfounded insult. "an anti-war movement that in retrospect was more interested in saving its bacon than in helping minorities and the poor."

Speaking as a member of that anti-war movement, you're full of shit. The anti-war movement was all about saving lives, American and Asian, and the cessation of wasting American resources (financial and human) on a pointless war of interference in some other people's country, a war that was none of our business. We were told (lied to) The Domino Theory to justify that horror: that if Vietnam fell, next thing you knew, we'd have them landing on the beaches of California. Vietnam finally fell in 1975, 37 years ago, and I haven't seen any commies, Asian or otherwise, storming the beaches of Santa Monica yet. That fact alone makes meaningless every American life lost in The Vietnam War.

The Vietnam War was about trying (unsuccessfully) to prevent vicious, murdering, torturing despots inimical to American business interests from replacing the vicious, murdering, torturing despots friendly to American business interests who already ran South Vietnam. It was all about money, as always. We did not feel such a venal venture was worth even one American life, nor one Vietnamese life. We still do. it was their civil war, and was none of our business.

"Freedom" for the Vietnamese was never on the table, never a possible outcome, no matter which side won. After all, how "free" are you when your government is forced on you by foreign invaders from the other side of the world (us)? It was right and just that we lost that war. We DESERVED to lose that shameful war.

Yes it was LBJ's predecessor who got us into that war, but LBJ could have pulled us back out again. Instead, he escalated it beyond Kennedy's worst nightmares, expanded it, and earned all the scorn and hatred we heaped upon him at the time. Then along came Satan himself: Richard Shithouse Nixon, and it became Nixon's War, and he went on to try and kill more American young men, to expand the war beyond Vietnam, and finally lost the war we should never have been in in the first place.

(to be continued)

D. McEwan said...

(Pt 2)

As for your additional gratuitous libel, you said the 1960s anti-war movement was not interested "in helping minorities and the poor." Well, you're sort of right. The Anti-War movment was about ENDING THE WAR! Though that would have helped the poor in Vietnam to stop being massacered, often by us, and helping the poor and minorities here from becoming LBJ and then Nixon's cannon fodder, as they are always the ones who carry the brunt of the fighting, even still today. But to say the Anti-War movement wasn't about helping minorities and the poor is like criticizing a Chess Club for never playing Scrabble. Two different games.

But many of us, I would say the majority of us in the Anti-War movement of the 1960s, were also part of the Civil Rights movements and the anti poverty campaigns.

How can you, how could anyone, not see the great film lying there in that tragedy of LBJ, a good, solid Liberal, who did so much good for America (much of it in programs the right-wing Teabagging lunatics of today are trying their damndest to dismantle), undone by his tragic flaw, the unwinnable war he escalated when he should have withdrawn us from it.

Oh and this statement: "He had political charisma, but not the kind that translates into entertainment" is idiotic. LBJ's huge personality was immensely entertaining. Like a benevolent (until it came to the war) version of JR Ewing. In a year when a hotly-anticipated reboot of Dallas, giving us the next generation (though with old JR still doddering about, up to plenty of no-good) is about to begin airing, LBJ would be extremely entertaining.

Good Grief! You've disgraced your lovely avatar.

RCP said...

"VP81955 said..."

"...an anti-war movement that in retrospect was more interested in saving its bacon than in helping minorities and the poor."

D. McEwan responded...

"But many of us, I would say the majority of us in the Anti-War movement of the 1960s, were also part of the Civil Rights movements and the anti poverty campaigns."

VP81955 - I'd like to add something to Douglas McEwan's spot-on posting:

My sister, born in 1950, was part of the Civil Rights and Anti-war movement from the time she was 15. Actually, she was at (unbeknownst to my parents, who wouldn't have minded in retrospect) King's 1963 speech on the mall. When she was attending college in Fredericksburg, Virginia, in the late 60s, she was tutoring black children in the poor part of town. She also dated a young black man, and told me of how the police would throw rocks at them as they walked down the street. Her boyfriend Will was killed in Vietnam within weeks of shipping out - she was I think 17 at the time - he not much older. Since then, she has worked for social causes and as of last Wednesday has been in Israel/Palestine leading a delegation for Compassionate Listening, bringing both sides together for conversations - not talking at each other, but attempting to understand each other. She is one of this generation who walks her talk, and I've met a number of her contemporaries who continue to do the same. Saving their own bacon? Hardly. Excuse me for bragging about my sister, but I'm making the bigger point that many of this generation continue to live their principals - despite lack of coverage/ridicule from our right-wing corporate media. In other words, watch your blanket statements, please.

D. McEwan said...

Your Sis, RCP, born the same year as I (and as Ken), sounds very cool. My siser was busy voting for Reagan. I love her, but her politics are awful, though it makes for lively Thanksgiving Day dinner table arguments.

Oh and one other pont. "In retrospect," that anti-war movement got the war ended eventually, and the draft ended as well. We did, in fact, eventually accomplish our goals. VP81955 conveniently forgot to call it "The Successful Anti-War Movement," since it would have blurred her gratuitous insulting of the movement.

Anonymous said...

"...Thanks. I try. I don't crack up "Anonymous," but then, he cracked up ages ago. Too bad the asylum started allowing him Internet access after Nappy Time..."

It's really too bad that some people can't express themselves without cutting an enormous hyperbole fart and stinking up the joint. Unfortunately, the internet is rife with "D. McEwan's" spewing this kind of garbage in forums. You don't agree with them and they turn over-the-top ridiculous /personal/nasty in a flash.

Oh boy, you got me, "Doug." Golly, I sure have been "put in my place."

//rolls eyes//

Would say I'm sorry you're so angry, "Doug", but I'm not. It's actually funny to sit and watch spew your foaming at the mouth sh*t like a 360° lawn sprinkler.

RCP said...

D. McEwan said...

"Your Sis, RCP, born the same year as I (and as Ken), sounds very cool. My siser was busy voting for Reagan. I love her, but her politics are awful, though it makes for lively Thanksgiving Day dinner table arguments."

At least you're brave enough to have the conversations at Thanksgiving - we learned long ago to concentrate on stuffing our faces and remarking on the weather.

I'm part of the same generation (the tail end) and came of age in the 70s, but having older siblings and a certain precociousness (having an excellent memory and understanding the context of certain events) - I feel like I'm somewhat a part of that time. It added to the mix to have relatives like my father and uncle, who for some unfathomable reason dragged me and two of my brothers down to D.C. during the May Day Protests in 71. I remember people being teargassed (to my conservative uncle's amusement), the same uncle striding up to a protestor holding a flag (not the American, obviously) on a pole and breaking the pole over his knee, a hippie standing and shouting on an overturned vehicle, and being outraged that a tiny carton of orange soda cost 25 cents.

To make my own blanket statement, I have a lot of respect for this particular generation. Those of you who came of age in the 60s were dealing with profound social changes. Granted - not everyone was an activist, plenty were prowar and conservative, and others were just out for the freeflowing sex (sigh). But big changes did occur. And of course a good number of us and our loved ones would be dealing with AIDS not too long after. I don't think it's self-flattery to state that this generation is tough and courageous - moreso than we give ourselves credit for - IMO.

Don K. said...

I find it rather revealing that save for one anonymous, unsourced post, no one who takes issue with Game Change denies its accuracy. Instead, they bemoan the lack of films taking Democrats to task. So what we're left with is, in all likelihood, an accurate portrayal of what happened in the 2008 campaign.

One other thing- whoever it was above that described Palin as a "successful" governor, I would like to point out that she quit without finishing out her first term, and this was AFTER the presidential election. Just how successful can a quitter be?

Mike said...

No, lots of people deny its accuracy, including the book Game Change. The line about pointing out America's WW2 enemies is not in the book.

Anti-war movement dried up when Nixon stopped the drafting of college students. They were not anti-war but anti-going-to-war-personally.

Nixon also ended the war with dignity, until the leftovers of the anti-war movement decided to abandon the field and let the South be overrun.

D. McEwan said...

"Anonymous said...
It's really too bad that some people can't express themselves without cutting an enormous hyperbole fart and stinking up the joint."


Well then shut up and stop stinking up the place, whomever you are. Maybe your doctors at the asylum can give you a sedative, or at least an air freshener, or perhaps put fewer legumes in your diet.

"RCP said...
At least you're brave enough to have the conversations at Thanksgiving - we learned long ago to concentrate on stuffing our faces and remarking on the weather."


My mother would have preferred the "talk about cute babies and eat" approach to holiday family gatherings, but my paternal grandfather, my Uncle Glenn, and myself all share an identical trait: a love of "stirring the pot." So we were always bringing up politics and religion, and pricking the hides of our conservative family members. (Lots of Mormons in the family. We could never let THEM win.)

I'm afraid Grandpa and Glenn gleefully encouraged me (they were both born for mischief, oddly though, Uncle Glenn was a deputy sheriff, but the least coplike cop I've ever known, and no conservative.) when I began doing it also, around age 13. So much more fun than the food. Maybe be you've noticed that trait lives on in my postings here.

"Mike said...
Anti-war movement dried up when Nixon stopped the drafting of college students. They were not anti-war but anti-going-to-war-personally.

Nixon also ended the war with dignity, until the leftovers of the anti-war movement decided to abandon the field and let the South be overrun."


Thanks for not being anonymous, Mike, but you've drunk the conservative Kool-Aid far too deeply. Every bit of the two paragraphs I've just reposted from you are lies. Every word of them.

And anyone who could say that "Nixon ended the war with dignity" has either never seen the footage of the fall of Saigon, and the scrambling for the helicopters (or seen Miss Saigon, a lovely show.), or is a fool who believes the Fox News/Rush Limbaugh view of history, or else is themselves a flat-out liar. There was nothing remotely approaching "dignity" in the end of that war, nor in the middle, nor at the beginning. To say otherwise is to be deluded or a liar.

Don't get your history from Fox News. In fact, don't get anything from Fox News. And if, like me, you're a survivor of the era, don't get your history from listening to Nixon and his cadre of liars, theives, apologists, and crooks. I'm sure Ben Stein thinks those two paragraphs are spot-on true, but then, Ben also believes in Creationism, so his excuse is that he's gone insane.

I have no argument with your first paragraph, which is why I did not include it in my quote above. Clearly the book is an attempt by the two dolts who shose Palin to try to make it, in Homer Simpson's words: "Everybody's fault but mine," and the movie takes their POV at face value, which is why Woody Harrelson's character comes off well in the film when, of course, he shouldn't.

RCP said...

D. McEwan said...

"...Maybe be you've noticed that trait lives on in my postings here."

Yes. Which is why your comments are one of the highlights of Ken's blog. It's especially enjoyable when you dispatch the likes of Anonymous (who appears to have free rein of the Internet from Calming Acres or wherever he's been placed.)

Anonymous said...

"...Well then shut up and stop stinking up the place, whomever you are. Maybe your doctors at the asylum can give you a sedative, or at least an air freshener, or perhaps put fewer legumes in your diet..."

Really? That's all you've got? No wonder you come off like a terribly frustrated and angry person. What are you, a failed actor or something? Well don't take it out on me. It's your mug in the mirror. I'm just contributing to the topic of this post. It's beyond slightly disturbing that .. "anonymous" has set you off. However, your rabidly aggressive and attempted personal shots remain .. as always .. amusing.

(here, I'll throw you a bone to chew on):

Signed,
Al

D. McEwan said...

Hi Al. Nice to know part of your name. Isn;t it nice to go from having no balls at all to having half of one ball? BTW, you're a douchebag.

Love, Dougie

(Oh, and these days I'm a writer with two books out, and two more coming out this year, and another for next year. You wouldn't enjoy them. They're liberal.)

Anonymous said...

"...BTW, you're a douchebag..."

And the name's not really Al, but it was enjoyable watching you go WOOFWOOFWOOFWOOFWOOFWOOFWOOOFWOOFWOOFWOOF!!


"..(Oh, and these days I'm a writer with two books out, and two more coming out this year, and another for next year. You wouldn't enjoy them. They're liberal.)"

Nope. I'll read anything and am open to all points of view. I know this concept escapes you ...

Love,
Captain Kirk

D. McEwan said...

I don't recall writing "Woof" even once, let alone repeatedly. Let me scan up the column and see. Nope. No "woofs" from me.

But thanks Captain, for PROVING that you are a douchebag. (My apologies to literal douchebags for comparing you to this cowardly, anonymous asshole. funny yhow it's always the right-wing scumballs who are afraid to identify themselves.)

Anonymous said...

Doug,

Calling someone a "douchebag" on the internet is so 2004 ago. You're showing your age.

;-)

Anyway, after a week, it's time to move on. It's been fun (not really). I'll leave you to your hysterically partisan ideological barking.

WOOF!!WOOF!!WOOF!!WOOF!!WOOF!!WOOF!!WOOF!!

Yes Doug. Down Doug. Bad Doug.

D. McEwan said...

My age is welcome to show. I'm proud of my age, which is 61. I'm 3 months younger than Ken. You gotta problem with that, Anonymous Craven Coward? What are you? 12? Because no intelligent adult would hold the politcal positions you do. But I did apologize to douchebags. How about this: You're a large two-day old turd, just getting ripe.

Ah, American political discourse in the 21st Century when dealing with Teabagging zombies.