Sunday, February 28, 2016
(May 2008, U.S.)
If this film sounds very unfamiliar to you, that's because it was not a theatrical release, but rather an HBO film, which deserves just as much recognition as any worthy theatrical release. It's about the debacle of the 2000 United States presidential election, which even after only eight short years, seemed like a period of American history already hell and gone from our memories, given all of the 21st Century world events that took place since then, including September 11, 2001, our second invasion of Iraq and our economic meltdown! Still, the event of the 2000 election stays fresh in my mind because up until then, I was very optimistic and enthusiastic that the new century would be a great one. It seems my good feelings didn't last even one goddamn year!
As a man of voting age who voted for Al Gore because I wanted to see the Clinton years (blowjobs not withstanding!) continue on some level, I remember the events of the 2000 Election very well, including the constant repeat of words like ballot punching and chads! It was on every news channel, including twenty-four hour coverage on CNN, and of course, made the cover of Time magazine...
...and so, it seems just the right material for a dramatic film, with even a touch of ironic humor. Perhaps that why Jay Roach (Austin Powers and Meet the Parents movies) was chosen to direct it. The film, which stars, among others, Kevin Spacey and Dennis Leary, chronicles the election of George W. Bush vs. Al Gore. Some of the highlighted events include Gore's early concession and subsequent retraction to Bush in the early hours of Election night, Gore's decision to bring a lawsuit for hand recounts in Florida where the Democratic voting irregularities were alleged, the Republican's pressure on Florida’s Secretary of State Katherine Harris (played by Laura Dern in a truly irritating performance) in light of her legally-mandated responsibilities under Florida law, the world's attention focused on the hand recounts by the media, the political parties, and the general public, the announcements by the Florida Supreme Court extending the deadlines for returns in the initial recount and the ordering of a statewide recount of all votes by the time the month of December has arrived and then overturned later by the U.S. Supreme Court, finally giving Gore to concede for good.
Despite an impressive cast (except Dern!), it's Kevin Spacey that truly carries the film as political operative Ron Klain who served under Al Gore. Initially, the film is not deliberately meant to take political sides, but whether the side of right and justice was for the Democrats or the Republicans, the film under Spacey's character and team of political strategists, give the Democrats the position of the underdog in the film, which I suppose is what any Democratic voter (myself included) would like to see. Whether or not every moment of the film's story is accurate or not, this is where the art of dramatization makes its point by blending the ideas of fact with some fictional versions of what really happened. As American citizens who voted, we may never really know the truth of who really won the 2000 presidential election, and sixteen years later, it likely doesn't even matter any more. Would 9/11 never have happened had Al Gore been elected? Of course not! Would we have avoided the recent recession? Very unlikely! One thing we can be sure of, however...had Al Gore taken the presidency, we surely wouldn't have gotten ourselves involved in Iraq again! I defy you to prove that opinion otherwise!
And now, here we are, people - sixteen years later and we're caught up in another debacle of presidential candidates who will very likely take the American people deeper into the shit of living in 21st Century America! Is Hilary Clinton the answer? Definitely not! Ted Cruz? Don't know. Bernie Sanders? Maybe. Is Donald Trump the answer? Well, unless we truly want to see World War III actually happen, HELL NO!!! Oh, may the powers of all that is good and just save us from ourselves on Election night, November 2016!!!
Favorite line or dialogue:
Ron Klain: "How hard is it to punch a paper ballot?"
Michael Whouley: "It's pretty goddamn hard when you're eighty something years-old, you're arthritic, and you're blind as a fucking bat! Unfortunately for us, blind fucking bats tend to vote Democratic!"