There is little doubt that the most power position in the world is one the one held by the man who serves as the president of the United States of America. On his shoulders rests the fate of millions of people not only in this country but most of the world. The man with this job has to make crucial decisions that change the courses of countries and must balance the needs of his own population with that of world security. It is not an easy job by any means and anyone who wants to take it on has to be dedicated to public service. It has always been part of the job to accept the criticism and even ridicule of the constituency. Every president since George Washington has had those who would object to the decisions of the current president. Some times this is expressed through editorials presenting arguments in often lofty terms. Others have expressed their thoughts on the president through humor making fun of the particular affectations of speech or movement the man has. Both forms of dissent have been found in newspapers, radio and television. Now, with the proliferation of the internet blogs and satiric animation have taken their place in the arsenal of those who wish to forward their thoughts on the president. The man who has taken on the most of this type of attention has been President George W. Bush. He has run the gamut from one of the highest acceptance ratings in 2001 to the lowest numbers on record. President Bush has been the punch line to more than the usual amount of jokes and impersonations during his eight years in office. Many see him as a war time leader; others as a man unable to effectively guide a nation in turmoil. No matter what your personal views of the man may be you will be fascinated by the latest film by legendary director Oliver Stone; ‘W.’. This is not a film that is intended to make fun of President Bush. What it succeeds in doing is presenting an honest, thought provoking look at the life of this man and how he came to sit in the Oval Office. It was made on a modest budget for a major motion picture, $25 million and received mixed critical response and less than stellar box office. It is also the kind of movie that bears watching over and over. There are nuances in the story and performances that only improve with each viewing. Warner Brothers has now made this landmark film available on DVD and Blu-ray. The film is a must see for every thinking adult in our country. Not only is it a look at a man who stood before us as our leader for the past eight pivotal years of our history it is just an extremely well crafted film.
Stanley Weiser may not have a lot of scripts to his name but the ones he has created are among the best in the industry. He is no stranger to the American Political scene as demonstrated by his script for ‘Rudy: The Rudy Giuliani Story’ a far better than average made for basic cable movie. He also penned a number of gripping dramas that include ‘Wall Street’, ‘Fatherland’ and ‘Murder in Mississippi’. This is a man who picks and choose his projects with great care. He is obviously a professional who throws himself into the story at hand. There is an almost brutal honesty to his writing that translates to films that are captivating. As with his screenplay about former New York major Rudy Giuliani the degree of difficulty that Weiser faces was magnified by have to portray a living public figure. Everyone who watches this film is going to have strong preconceptions about President Bush. Weiser had the arduous task of showing the man behind the office. This is ultimately a classic tragedy. Bush was groomed from his earliest days for greatness but on a personal level was not ready to ascend to such an office. The story depicts this with style and even a gentle hand. Weiser’s screenplay does not make the man into a buffoon instead taking the high road of presenting him as a man out of his depth. Most of us can readily identify with this concept. We have had jobs that we knew were beyond us and had to do our best to come up to the occasion. In the case of Mr. Bush he had to go through this with the eyes of the world on his every action. Each time the President misspoke or flubbed a word within minutes the video was around the world on the internet and by the next day the clip was on most comedy shows. No other time in history was any man in this office subjected to such scrutiny. This made the job extremely difficult for Wesier but the man was up more than up to the challenge.
There are a lot of directors that create controversial films but at the top of the list have to be Oliver Stone. He is a lightening rod for debate with every project he takes on. His release of ‘J.F.K.’ became fuel for the millions of conspiracy devotees around the country. It looked at the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and many still take it as gospel while others deride it as little more than exploitation. Stone’s affinity for the office of the president and the man behind it was shown by his movie ‘Nixon’. This was also a peak at the man behind the big desk in the Oval Office. This film is much like ‘Nixon’ in that it shows the president as a human being with the same faults and foibles that we all share. In this movie Stone endeavors to find a reason for what happened while Bush was in office. He goes back to his early days depicting his battle with alcohol and lackluster academic career. The tragedy of the man is laid out with a life time of being rich and privilege all while being unprepared for the role he was being groomed to hold
Key to the film is the actor who would take on portraying Bush. Josh Brolin does not take the easy road by trying to do a direct imitation of the man. Instead he attempts to capture the essence of the man. He has the mannerisms of Bush down to a tee but it comes from a place of respect not satire. This is one of his finest performances in his career. Almost all of the parts here were cast to perfection. Elizabeth Banks may be best known for comedy but her portrayal of Laura Bush is astounding. She shows a private side to a woman determined to stand by her man no matter what the public may think. This gives the movie a little touch of a love story which is not something often thought of when a person considers this man and his wife. The story shows Bush as a man who was manipulated by other more aggressive men. He was surrounded by people with their own agenda and used Bush to forward those goals. There are no excuses offered, no moments of apology just a unblinking look at a man who found himself taking on a job held successfully by his father.
If you are looking for a hatchet job on President George W. Bush look elsewhere but if you want a riveting, human drama this is the film for you.