In review: W (Oliver Stone, 2008)
We don’t really do film reviews over at ILB, possibly because the extent of my background knowledge in cinema is limited to an ability to “movieoke” the entire Breakfast Club script. However, y’know, we like to mix it up on occasion…
W is effectively Politics Movie. And to be frank, it’d be an improved film if Oliver Stone had stuck a lot closer to that format, inviting the Wayans brothers in to slap on the whiteface and play Chirac and Putin, or getting Carmen Electra to do a striptease routine in the Oval Office. Instead, you can just make do with the rest of the tropes you’ve grown to know and love over nearly ten fucking years of the “Movie” series: moment after moment of George Bush saying exactly the same thing he said in real life… but this time it’s in a movie! And thus hilarious! It doesn’t matter if the quote is massively out of context, said about ten years before he said it IRL, or not even that interesting in the first place. Misunderestimated! Is our children learning! You’re killing them out here Ollie, you’re killing ‘em graveyard style.
Also adding to the hilarity is Thandie Newton, who approaches her role as Condi Rice with all the mannered subtlety of a recently evicted Big Brother contestant being invited to appear in a sketch on that week’s Friday Night Project. It’s a performance broader than an Irish girl’s arse, and even less appealing. And the guy who turns up to play Tony Blair three-quarters of the way through, and appears to have mistaken ol’ Faux Estuary Tone for Brian Sewell. That Tony Blair, he sure is English!
There’s no plot either. 9/11 isn’t mentioned. At one point there’s a long, lingering shot of a young Laura Bush treading on a corn-on-the-cob because… I don’t know. Is that meant to be phallic? Is it an anal sex reference? Willie Nelson appears on the soundtrack singing “Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys”. The relationship between Bushes Jr and Sr comes across as less Oedipal and more homoerotic, including a dream sequence where someone clearly hasn’t learned the lessons of the Sopranos: if you’re going to have a bullshit dream sequence that doesn’t go anywhere, you have to put Annette Benning in it and then at least people will care.
No, in all honesty, I’ve seen more intelligent, learned and insightful summations of Bush’s eight years in power on placards that that tramp who hangs around Parliament Square scrawls on. Stoked for Eddie Griffin playing Barack in Oliver Stone’s “O (2016)”, though.