Filmed over the last six months of the 2000 Presidential election, Phillip Seymour Hoffman starts documenting the campaign at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, but spends ... See full summary »
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Janet K. Rauch
Filmed over the last six months of the 2000 Presidential election, Phillip Seymour Hoffman starts documenting the campaign at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, but spends more time outside, in the street protests and police actions than in the orchestrated conventions. Hoffman shows an obvious distaste for money politics and the conservative right. He looks seedier and more disillusioned the campaign progresses. Eventually Hoffman seems most energized by the Ralph Nader campaign as an alternative to the nearly indistinguishable major parties. The high point of the film are the comments by Barney Frank who says that marches and demonstrations are largely a waste of time, and that the really effective political players such as the NRA and the AARP never bother with walk ins, sit-ins, shoot-ins or shuffles. In the interview with Jesse Jackson, Hoffman is too flustered to ask all of his questions. Written by
The prior reviewer of THE PARTY'S OVER takes issue with the editor's choice not to cut the Republican and Democratic conventions in a parallel, us versus them fashion. That's fine and dandy, except that was not the intent of the film.
Documentary is an odd beast that few people understand. The uproar behind Michael Moore's BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE came in part because Moore *gasp* didn't specifically edit in sequence; sometimes his reactions to the words weren't the reactions given as the subject spoke. "They are lies!" the Right chanted, assuming the use of B roll caused Moore's film moot. Forget that everything Charlton Heston says on camera is, in fact, what Charlton Heston said to Michael Moore.
Frederick Wiseman, the grandpappy of cinema verite, would be the first person to tell you that documentary film is not the Truth in the way that ye olde traditional audience would expect it. How can it be? Someone chooses to film specific subjects, use specific music, edit in a specific fashion because it begets the theme of the film. This doesn't make documentary a faux relayer of society; it makes it more real than the simulacrum we inhibit, because the filmmaker chooses not to let society dictate her parameters.
I'm not saying THE PARTY'S OVER (its name through FILM MOVEMENT) is a great film; expecting the Green Party to fill the role of protagonist is a large hope to pin, and this is coming from a Green supporter. What the film does do well is document what happened, showing us things we didn't see on the news -- protests in Philiadelphia, questionable police brutality, the shutting down of protests that were zoned for a longer period of time, and the lack of substantial difference between the Republican and Democratic parties.
The best lines come from the politicians themselves -- Barney Frank, Christopher Shays, Henry Ford, and Gary Johnson all make great points about the inefficiencies of the system they inhabit, and they come at it from different sides of the aisle (who knew Frank was a Republican?). At the same time, turgid yes men like Newt Gingrich, Tim Hutchinson, and John Kerry come off as nothing more than arms of the establishment.
If you expect a beginning, middle, and end to this film, you'll be disappointed. If you want to see a part of history you didn't get from Tom Brokaw, it's good viewing. Unfortunately, your political views will color how you perceive this film, as the number of 10 and 1 ratings here do show.
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