Saturday, March 10, 2012

Game Change The Thread

I did not watch it. Hopefully Jonathan can give us a review. The 10-12 minutes I saw I didn't think it made her look that bad.

Jonathan's review...

Director Jay Roach isn't a stranger to political controversy: his last movie for HBO, Recount, had critics yelling that the fictionalized account of the 2000 debacle of Florida painted the Democrats as the loveable underdogs and the Republicans as the bullies At least with Recount, what worked best was the all-star cast and how razor sharp the satire was. His latest movie, Game Change, is setting off another round of "Liberal Hollywood bias!" by commentators, Sarah Palin included. Do yourself a favor: watch the movie first, then form judgements later. Unlike Roach's last outing, there's little to laugh at. He plays this straightly dramatic, there are moments where the lines of dialogue feel forced and cliché, and the film skips over too much; this could have been a  riveting 7-8 part miniseries on the entirety of the race, instead of a 2-hour facts-based, by the numbers drama on one aspect of it.

Yet, for all it's faults, Game Change is still a compelling film, and one that hinges on the strength of Julianne Moore's phenomenal performance as then-Governor Sarah Palin, plucked out from nowhere to become a rising star of the right, at the expense of the presidential hopes of the McCain campaign. Like the real-life VP hopeful, the movie focuses mostly on her, and she doesn't let anyone - be it McCain's top strategist Steve Schmidt (a fine Woody Harrelson) and senior advisor Nicole Wallace (the terrific Sarah Paulson) or her own brain-trust - forget it. The moment she goes on the campaign circuit, her inner-diva, as her jaw-dropping ignorance of world and domestic events, becomes a liability that even John McCain (Ed Harris) can't contain. Moore has played strong women on the verge of a breakdown before (see: Magnolia, The Kids Are Alright) but here she's at her best, lacing the fire and surprising vulnerability she shows as her character takes hit after hit from the media.

*** out of **** stars


RalphyFan said...

I saw it, Count. Here's my take:

At the end of the day, Game Change is a tale of overwhelmed meltdown turned self-absorbed hubris, served up with a heaping side of buyer's remorse from the McCain campaign.

Yes, early on, there is some sympathy for Sarah, who is initially portrayed as reasonable, go-along-to-get-along, and prepared to mold herself into the person the campaign needs her to be: the stereotypical small-town girl in over her head in the Big City. Later, as her story unfolds, you see deep, deep denial, as every effort to give her the information base she needs to be effective is sublimated behind worry about her reputation and standing back in the more familiar waters of Alaska. She completely shuts down, to the chagrin of her handlers.

The campaign lurches back and forth in its reaction to the strange bird they've been handed, reveling in her star power successes at the convention and when left to her own devices in the VP debate, but recoiling at her basic ignorance (as in, not knowing why North and South Korea are separate countries, and assuming that US/UK cooperation depends on getting along with the Queen) and groaning at all the things we groaned at, from "In what respect, Charlie?" to "All of them [newspapers & magazines], any of them..." to "O'Biden."

As she realizes and revels in her power from those successful outings, though, the bitch within emerges, her anger fueled by the SNL parodies and the pointed ridicule from MSNBC et. al. The best analogy is to say that the baited animal bites back and gives new meaning to the phrase "going rogue"...a perilous place for any campaign depending on message discipline. Mixed messages abound.

I was struck by the complete disconnect between what McCain was up to and Palin's role. It felt almost like they were running parallel campaigns with little coordination or contact. You got the sense that he never really knew her, nor wanted to: validation, in some sense, that her value to the ticket from his perspective was strictly as a female who might peel off some disenchanted Hillary PUMAs.

Another striking thing for me was the portrayal of the McCain campaign's reluctance to take the low road and go for the "pallin' around with terrorists" approach, their regret when they finally did so as a last-ditch effort, and the clear escalation point it marked in the "mob rule" mentality of those crowds - something I feel was a direct precursor to the Tea Party madness.

The script wasn't terribly snappy or the acting necessarily top-drawer, but it was enough to bring back some vivid liveblogging memories from a few years ago, and to highlight some turning points which have gone on to change the nature of US political dialogue for the worse.

If you have HBO it's worth a watch. Otherwise, probably not something to go out of your way for.

Anonymous said...

Thank you RF For the great review!

Yakki.PsD said...

Honestly I don't think McCain really wanted to know Palin. She was this small-time governor with no experience and no desire to gain it. And I think McCain tuned into that early,and tried to distance himself from her without losing the fans she had.

It turned out to be a losing strategy,but I think it was lost from the time they accepted her as vp nominee.

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