Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Recount

(Movie Review)

This was a new release in my local video store. (As always, the fact that I'm stuck out in the Japanese countryside means these reviews aren't necessarily timely.)

I knew that this film had gotten good reviews, but like a lot of people I was hesitant to rent it. I imagine most of you probably had these same thoughts when you saw this movie at your video store:

1) I already know the story. Like everyone else, I was glued to the TV during the 2000 Florida election debacle, and I remember it well.

2). It's a story about counting ballots. How exciting can that be?

and 3). It was a made for TV movie, and we all know made for TV movies have a bad track record.

But I decided to give this film a try anyway, and I was very pleasantly surprised.

You wouldn't think a story about recounting ballots would make for good TV, but this script is brilliantly written and brilliantly acted.
Kevin Spacey (in - my - opinion - one - of the greatest under-rated actors of our time) and Dennis Leary both do an excellent job of chewing up this script. All of the necessary exposition is delivered in an entertaining fashion, and there's a lot of humor mixed in with this story as well.

Sure, you already know the basic story, and you know what the ending is going to be. But you have a great time getting there.

There have been a lot of comparisons between this movie and "All the President's Men", and I think much of those comparisons are accurate. Both of these are political thrillers based on well known news events, but they still managed to maintain a lot of dramatic tension.
"All the President's Men" (W) was originally released as a highly topical film in 1976, but has since been watched by many people too young to remember the Watergate scandal firsthand. Including myself.
(After getting thoroughly confused by the professor's lecture on the big tangled mess that was the "Watergate Hearings", Bork, Buma, and I rented "All the President's Men" as a way to review for our 20th Century American history exam at Calvin.)

And, although it's scary to think about how quickly we get old, we are not far from the time when incoming college Freshman will be too young to remember the 2000 election.
If this movie becomes a classic and is still readily available in a few years time (and I suspect it will be) it will be a great educational tool for the next generation just like "All the President's Men" was for us.
In fact, dare I say it, this movie is even better. I know "All the President's Men" is a classic, but I had trouble sitting through the whole thing. This movie, on the other hand, is brilliantly paced, grabs your attention from the start and keeps you engaged all the way through.

Plus even for us old folks who remember the 2000 election, there's lots of interesting new information in here. The writers make use of various books and interviews that contain things that weren't on the news at the time, but have come out since. So even if you were glued to the TV back in November 2000, you'll still probably learn a couple new things from this movie. I know I did.

And if you are watching the DVD version, I highly recommend you take the time to watch the directors commentary as well. There's a ton of additional information contained in the commentary.

Fascinating movie. Definitely worth watching if you haven't seen it already.

Link of the Day
A New American Era? An Interview with Noam Chomsky on American Society, Politics and Foreign Policy
and Pro-Life really means Anti-Contraception

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