Oliver Stone’s new movie might have made a better mini-series – it was really long, but felt like it could have been much longer; it didn’t really have much of a plot; and except for Josh Brolin, who was excellent, and Cromwell & Burstyn, who were realistic as people but don’t really bother with the details in their portrayal of the senior Bushes, most of the cast feel a bit like caricatures (especially thandie newton as Rice, who is just awful – I don’t know if that’s the fault of the script, which didn’t leave much room for a character to develop, or if they cut the part down because her portrayal belonged on SNL). It seems like in order to try to make it fit into a movie, it focuses around Iraq and the father-son relation – Junior goes in to finish what Daddy never did, in order to get approval/ one up his stand-offish but never far away father.

It’s an interesting and I think well balanced story – it’s not told harshly, but reminds you of the amount of psychology and insider string-pulling and so forth that actually ends up running our government – how so much of what happens is built on just as emotional or shakespearian ‘reasoning’ as the statesmen of the past… we imagine it’s rational democracy now, but it’s not nearly that different… sure, we have more safeguards, but the impulses, the underlying motivations of the people in charge, haven’t changed much. We just have slightly better ways to keep them in check.

Overall, Bush comes across as a nice enough guy who doesn’t quite know what he’s doing, but has a motivation to show his dad he can do it. He isn’t malicious; he’d just rather be a center fielder. But as the continual sports day dreams show, he is never very good there either… he can’t box his father, and he can’t keep his eye on the ball in the stadium. The movie ends before the ball drops for sure, with just the dazed and confused GWB looking around him, which does seem appropriate. You almost feel sorry for him. But… not really.

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