Release Date: October 17, 2008

Movie of the Day for Friday, June 13, 2008
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 I hope I don't get waterboarded for this.

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Position Staff In Brief
17/52 Sean Collier Interesting and well-made, if not the bombshell we were all expecting.
64/196 Max Braden Yikes, it's like Oliver Stone told everyone to overact. Thandie Newton has never been this bad in anything.

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2008 is an election year and that means Hollywood’s liberal elite are doing everything they can to influence voters. Whether the above statement is satire or sincerity is in the eye of the beholder. What matters is that Oliver Stone and Michael Moore, acknowledged muckrakers the both of them, are both planning to release Fall movies that will take shots at the President of the United States, whose job is up for grabs in November. Neither filmmaker will be focusing upon the upcoming election’s candidates, instead examining the legacy of George Walker Bush. Needless to say, both films will be controversial bordering on incendiary subjects upon their respective releases.

For his part, Oliver Stone’s movie offers the most inspired casting choice in recent memory. After No Country for Old Men’s release, Josh Brolin is no longer primarily known as James Brolin’s son. He is way, way, way out of his father’s shadow after a magnificent turn as hunted, decent man who knows all too well he is in over his head. This is an important for two reasons. First of all, the latter description somewhat accurately describes George W. Bush, who was born with far more charisma than his father but not the same level of intelligence. George Herbert Bush is legitimately one of the smartest people in the world. His level of intellect is rare. So, following in his father’s footsteps in the country’s most important job was perhaps too much for the man. But the more engaging way that Brolin’s casting works is for fans of The West Wing. During the show’s third season, residing POTUS Jed Bartlett ran for re-election against a character long on charisma but short on intelligence, one loosely based on George W. Bush. That character was masterfully played by none other than James Brolin. Anyone who remembers the phrase, “Crime, boy, I don’t know,” has to be giddy about the idea of Josh Brolin taking on the role of W.

In terms of storyline, there is readily available information. The reason why is that The Hollywood Reporter took the unusual step of leaking a copy of the script to several Bush biographers in order to get their opinions on Stone’s version of events. Reviews have been mixed with most of them agreeing that several aspects of the story are accurate. Bush is prone to swearing, his relationship with his father is complex, and his love of baseball is all-encompassing. He is not, however, known to subject himself to extreme self-evaluation, living by the tenet that he knows he is happy on a personal level and that’s enough. Stone’s script apparently has the man much more self-absorbed about how history will judge him as well as his father than is believed to be true. What should prove interesting is the oftentimes strained relationship between a young adult and the father whose professional life keeps him away from home too much. This aspect of W should be quality bi-partisan drama.

The production of W is just plain odd. The film wasn’t even on the menu at the start of 2008. By mid-May, it was in production with some of the casting incomplete on the day that principal photography began. Stone has boldly stated that he is dedicating all of his resources to ensure a release on October 17, 2008. That means he cannot have production delays during the shoot, which is scheduled to end on June 20th. With an actor’s strike a possibility this summer, even a few days of delays could set all of Stone’s goals for the production’s release.

Casting for the film adds excitement to the project. In addition to Brolin, a masterstroke if ever there was one, Elizabeth Banks of Invincible portrays Laura Bush. Goddess of love Thandie Newton takes on the crucial role of Condoleeza Rice while Jeffrey Wright of Casino Royale portrays Colin Powell. James Cromwell is cast in one of the most crucial roles as W’s father, the other George Bush. Ellen Burstyn plays his wife, Barbara, and Scott Glenn has been cast as Donald Rumsfeld. Richard Dreyfuss was recently added as Vice-President Dick Cheney as well.

Stone has stated that he has no intention of making an “anti-Bush polemic” but the fact that he plans to run ads for W against McCain for President spots does seem telling. (David Mumpower/BOP)

Vital statistics for W
Main Cast Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Banks
Supporting Cast Richard Dreyfuss, James Cromwell, Ellen Burstyn, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Scott Glenn, Ioan Gruffudd, Jesse Bradford
Director Oliver Stone
Screenwriter Stanley Weiser
Distributor Lionsgate
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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