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W. (2008, dir. Stone, Brolin) Reviews Thread

Old 10-16-08, 10:22 AM
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W. (2008, dir. Stone, Brolin) Reviews Thread

Saw a preview screening with a friend and he wrote this review, I share the same sentiments:

"At the beginning of Oliver Stone's "W." most viewers will prepare themselves to groan, for surely a movie by the notoriously liberal-minded Stone about one the most conservative presidents' in our country's history could not be fair. And while it is certainly not 100 percent objective in its presentation, Stone's film is not propaganda and not a cinematic "Vote Obama" rallying cry, but rather the story of an All-American man who, not ever really knowing what he wanted to do with his life, more or less tricks himself, and, with the help of his far more "intelligent" advisers, into becoming the President of the United States."

read the rest here at my blog: http://thefilmstage.blogspot.com/200...sidential.html
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Old 10-16-08, 11:16 AM
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You're not going to get a movie about politics made without it being somewhat biased. So when I go into W I'll know that I'm going to see something at least a little anti-Bush. I'm ok with that since I have the ability to form my own opinions about things and still enjoy a film with political biases. I'll be watching this, probably on DVD unless the reviews are stellar.
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Old 10-16-08, 11:20 AM
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I'm surprised this is PG-13, I heard W's got a real mean mouth on him.
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Old 10-16-08, 12:55 PM
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Ebert's 4-star review
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Old 10-16-08, 03:57 PM
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Didn't Ebert give Lakeview Terrace 4 stars as well?
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Old 10-17-08, 01:31 PM
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Funny this movie is getting bad reviews because it doesn't bash Bush.
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Old 10-17-08, 01:38 PM
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Ebert's recent reviews just don't jive with my own take on films, so his opinion on the recent films aren't sought after by me much anymore. I think Ebert's just happy to be alive to watch films these days.

Last edited by Patman; 10-17-08 at 01:47 PM.
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Old 10-17-08, 02:34 PM
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^^^ I've yet to see you give a film higher than a B-, but I don't get on here as much as I'd like.

I don't think anyone expects Stone to be completely truthful. Look at the trailer/ads. No real seriousness.
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Old 10-17-08, 03:47 PM
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Hey, I gave The Dark Knight an A- (might have given the Imax presentation an A).

Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist got a B from me, as did Iron Man.
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Old 10-17-08, 05:20 PM
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Good points...
- Josh Brolin's performance (esp. the White House years - Best Actor nom!)
- James Cromwell as George H.W. Bush
- Elizabeth Banks as Laura Bush
- Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney
- Jeffrey Wright as Colin Powell
- Ellen Burstyn as Barbara Bush
- W meeting Laura at Texas cookout (wonderful acting, editing, & writing!)
- 11 minute cabinet meeting laying out the groundwork for Iraq war (I really thought Dreyfuss as Cheney presented whole bottom line Neo-Con viewpoint far more clearly than President Bush did at the time of the actual events)
- Music selections (as usual for a Stone film...Budd Carr is a master)
- Bush and company getting lost while walking at his ranch
- Bush 43 and 41 battling during the first and second acts
- Bush and Cheney lunch in the first act. Bush is such a pig for eating and talking at the same time. Dreyfuss is great!
- Minor Cheney Vs. Powell sub-plot
- Costume design
- Cinematography (based on reviews I thought it would look like crap, but I was actually knocked out by a few scenes considering how rushed the production was and the small budget)
- Had the same tone as "The Queen," which worked for the most part (read below)

Not so good points...
- Third act just doesn't add up in its current form. Too short.
- Last press conference scene needed two or three more questions from the reporters to have a real impact. I didn't buy Bush running up to his private room, closing the doors, and...what? I didn't get what we were supposed to think at that moment!!! The guy hasn't shown any real self-doubt about his decisions and actions, but we're supposed to buy he is at that moment. I don't think so. The whole third act needed a good re-write in my opinion.
- Thandie Newton as Sec. Rice (pure SNL)
- Stacy Keach as Rev. Hudd - His performance was fine, but the character as written (and directed) didn't work for me.
- Scott Glenn as Donald Rumsfeld (bad casting)
- Sound design (rather flat throughout)
- You have to question whether including the 2000 election and 9/11 would've made for a better third act. On the other hand, it would've pushed the running time well past what Lionsgate wanted.
- Too much like "The Queen" without that film's excellent script

Overall, I'd give it a B+ and I plan on seeing it again real soon. I usually have to with Stone's films to get the full measure of the piece.
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Old 10-17-08, 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Patman View Post
Hey, I gave The Dark Knight an A- (might have given the Imax presentation an A).

Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist got a B from me, as did Iron Man.
I'm mostly kidding, but I admit, I'll read your review, thinking you're give it a good grade, and then I see a C+. So harsh.

On the Ebert note, just reading his reviews for the last 15 years or so, he doesn't seem to be any more favorable than in the past. And I have yet to hate a film he gave 4 stars.

Anyway, this is a must-see movie for me.
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Old 10-17-08, 08:44 PM
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I'll see it but likely wait for the DVD. I just got around seeing Nixon a few months ago and STILL haven't seen JFK!
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Old 10-17-08, 09:00 PM
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Watching JFK is kinda sad. Because it shows how far Stone has fallen.
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Old 10-17-08, 10:53 PM
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JFK is Stone's masterpiece. Natural Born Killers and Talk Radio fall close behind IMO.
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Old 10-17-08, 11:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Zen Peckinpah View Post
JFK is Stone's masterpiece. Natural Born Killers and Talk Radio fall close behind IMO.
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Old 10-17-08, 11:28 PM
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I thought this was great, it was Stone in Nixon-form. Brolin was oscar worthy. One thing I wonder is if Bush is really as articulate as he's portrayed in the movie. He was portrayed very sympathetic, articulate, just surrounded by bad people and didn't have the necessary leadership or judgment, and the bottom dropped out somewhere along the line. To me it is probably #2 or 3 for the year so far, but it's been a very bad year. I loved all the scenes where he was with his cabinet, and the family stuff... while watching I kind of hoped they would make a sequel about his second term. Overall I loved it, not without its flaws, but still sharp.
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Old 10-17-08, 11:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Zen Peckinpah View Post
JFK is Stone's masterpiece. Natural Born Killers and Talk Radio fall close behind IMO.

Platoon, Salvador and Talk Radio fall close behind. NBK was good until Harrelson and Juliette Lewis get caught and sent to jail, then the film turns to shit.
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Old 10-18-08, 12:29 AM
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The special effects were awful. In those scenes with Josh Brolin composited into stock footage, you could see the fuzzy edges from the greenscreening. He was also too sharp (image-wise) to have been part of that footage.
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Old 10-18-08, 02:13 AM
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It was a very fair portait of Bush. I'm definitely on the left side and I found this movie very enjoyable. I found myself empathizing with Bush a lot. Brolin really gave depth and reality to the part of the insecure man. Brolin was amazing and the supporting cast did a wonderful job.

I'm still deciding whether I'm happy or angry with Stone/Brolin for making me feel compassion for W.
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Old 10-18-08, 04:49 AM
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I enjoyed the film the most when it was a story about a strong willed man trying hard to fight for the love and respect of his father, and lashing out when he doesn't get it. The scenes between Brolin and Cromwell are very well acted and written, and keep the presidency scenes afloat. Some of the presidential scenes are good on their own (the opening "Axis of Evil" scene, the lunch scene, the losing the car scene, and the final decision to go forward in Iraq), but in general don't compare to the scenes where W is trying to find his place in a world ruled by his father's ambitions for Jeb.

On the acting side, Brolin and Cromwell lead the pack. After that, Wright and Dreyfuss were damn good. Everyone else fell behind those four, and Thandie Newton was way in the back, doing an impression of Condi so bad that I winced every time she was on screen. I don't know how Stone let that slip.

Overall, it's an enjoyable film. Could have used more time to breathe, and they really needed to cover the 2000 election. I'm expecting a much longer director's cut on DVD.
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Old 10-18-08, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Suprmallet View Post
I enjoyed the film the most when it was a story about a strong willed man trying hard to fight for the love and respect of his father, and lashing out when he doesn't get it. The scenes between Brolin and Cromwell are very well acted and written, and keep the presidency scenes afloat. Some of the presidential scenes are good on their own (the opening "Axis of Evil" scene, the lunch scene, the losing the car scene, and the final decision to go forward in Iraq), but in general don't compare to the scenes where W is trying to find his place in a world ruled by his father's ambitions for Jeb.

On the acting side, Brolin and Cromwell lead the pack. After that, Wright and Dreyfuss were damn good. Everyone else fell behind those four, and Thandie Newton was way in the back, doing an impression of Condi so bad that I winced every time she was on screen. I don't know how Stone let that slip.

Overall, it's an enjoyable film. Could have used more time to breathe, and they really needed to cover the 2000 election. I'm expecting a much longer director's cut on DVD.
Agree with you here on all counts. Extremely enjoyable film. Brolin deserves an Oscar nomination as does Cromwell for supporting actor. Ellen Burstyn was also quite good as Barbara Bush. I, however, didn't like Jeffrey Wright very much as Colin Powell. Just seemed a little too ghetto. And although Newton had the look of Condoleezza down, what the hell was up with that voice!?? Turned into an unintentional parody. It was just awful. IMDB shows an actor playing Saddam Hussein in the film. Now I ran to the bathroom twice real quick, but I don't remember anyone playing him. Did I miss something? And last, when did Stacy Keach turn into Larry Flynt!?
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Old 10-18-08, 04:39 PM
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The Saddam Hussein scene(s) were cut. They'll be on the DVD though. I'm still not sure whether Stone is doing a longer DVD cut or the usual deleted scenes extra feature option.

The more I think about it, maybe we're not supposed to think of much at the end. Just Bush eating in his private office with his dog watching a college baseball game and dreaming of making the game winning catch in the World Series. I'll keep that in mind the second time I see it. Perhaps I'm being too hard on the third act.
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Old 10-18-08, 10:13 PM
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Saw W today, and enjoyed it, although it's not going to win many (if any) awards. It plays like more of a made-for-TV movie than Stone's past work.

Stone's also probably not as hard on Bush as he should have been - presenting him more as a victim of his own past, circumstances and those around him. We get a Bush that Democrats will feel sorry for and Republicans will think looks weak.

Dreyfus as Cheney and Cromwell as Bush, Sr. are the best performances in the movie...and perhaps the best reason to check it out - although Brolin is very good as W. I agree with the above poster who said Glenn was miscast and Newton was just doing a comical impersonation.
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Old 10-19-08, 01:19 AM
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Oliver Stone's "W" attempts to give us a cautionary tale of putting into the Oval Office a man with meandering ambitions and political pedigree who appears to be ill-equip to handle the demands of his 2-term presidency when challenges of 9/11 give rise to an inadvertent agenda against terrorism that would box him into a narrow field of initiatives (domestic and foreign).

Josh Brolin carries the film with ease as W from college-aged f-up to our 43rd President of today. I didn't think Brolin had this performance in him, but it's a very solid performance where he is simply W on the big screen, with no trappings of being Josh Brolin.

The complexities of the Iraq situation are focused on the players involved in W's response to 9/11, mainly Rumsfeld, Cheney, Tenet, Rice, Rove and Powell. Stone constructs the tale to build up W's father's own struggles with Saddam in the early 1990's, which gives more impetus to focus on a response towards Iraq, rather than the more obvious route. Powell (Jeffrey Wright in a good performance) is the only one who comes out without much blame in W's response. Rove is very creepily played by Toby Jones because he comes across as the uncharismatic strategist riding W for all he's worth, as he does it while playing up to W's ego. Cheney (in a nice supporting performance by Richard Dreyfuss) is portrayed as the defender of oil prospects in the middle east which gives W the overlay and plan to kill 2 birds with one stone, but it would not work out that way. Rumsfeld (an ill-casted Scott Glenn) would end up alienating the inner cabinet with his own views of the situation. Rice (in a horrific performance by Thandie Newton) doesn't fare well at all as W's closer and facilitator.

Stone's take on W is of a man subconsciously (and consciously) wanting parental approval from a father whose life was filled with solid accomplishments and ideals, but W was never quite able to glean the proper tenor of such approval that was given to his brother Jeb. Whether that is somewhat the truth, it is Stone's underlying motivating force for W as he bounced from job to job in his post college years (many of which were set up by his father), and then falling into politics only after the brother deferred to help with the '88 campaign. We barely get a sniff of W's governor years, nor much of the 2000 campaign bruhaha. Stone is more concerned with how W handled the reins of the presidency, while glossing over the mile markers in the 1990s that would propel W to national prominence a scant 16 years after his father left office. It feels like Stone regards W's road to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. to be accidental in nature, almost the perfect storm of political acsension, but with disasterous results of such of a rise to the highest office in the land. Stone's push to get this film out before the 2008 election seems to prop up this view, though if I were to reflect on the current choices, perhaps it works against his own personal politics given the choices on the ballots (or maybe not).

It is true that Stone paints a very sympathetic portrait of W as a man without the necessary curiousity for the world, present and past, which would handicap his responses to crises in his 2 terms of the Presidency, leaving the US with the Iraq quagmire. All W wants to do is play a simple childhood game and get away from the demands of the world. He is done.

I give the film 2.75 stars, or a grade of B-.
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Old 10-19-08, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Shannon Nutt View Post
Saw W today, and enjoyed it, although it's not going to win many (if any) awards. It plays like more of a made-for-TV movie than Stone's past work.

Stone's also probably not as hard on Bush as he should have been - presenting him more as a victim of his own past, circumstances and those around him. We get a Bush that Democrats will feel sorry for and Republicans will think looks weak.

Dreyfus as Cheney and Cromwell as Bush, Sr. are the best performances in the movie...and perhaps the best reason to check it out - although Brolin is very good as W. I agree with the above poster who said Glenn was miscast and Newton was just doing a comical impersonation.
Made-for-TV? What do you mean by that? Also, how should Stone have been harder on Bush? He was pretty damn hard on him (rightly so) in my opinion.
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