As the extremely withdrawn Don Johnston is dumped by his latest woman, he receives an anonymous letter from a former lover informing him that he has a son who may be looking for him. A freelance sleuth neighbor moves Don to embark on a cross-country search for his old flames in search of answers.
Set against the backdrop of a mythic "New West," a satire that follows grammatically-challenged, "user-friendly" candidate Dicky Pilager, scapegrace scion of Colorado's venerable Senator Jud Pilager, during his gubernatorial campaign. When Pilager finds that he's reeled in a corpse during the taping of an environmental political ad, his ferocious campaign manager, Chuck Raven, hires former idealistic journalist turned rumpled private detective Danny O'Brien to investigate potential links between the corpse and the Pilager family's enemies. Danny's investigation pulls him deeper and deeper into a complex web of influence and corruption, involving high stakes lobbyists, media conglomerates, environmental plunderers, and undocumented migrant workers. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
America is a dead fish? Harsh finish to an unnerving film.
Pretty scary film, with its only slightly veiled alignment with Bush's environmental and immigration policies(contradiction in terms to be sure!), this uneven and fragmented film missed the mark in great film-making but hit it somewhat in its frightening depiction of the real power behind the powers that appear to be in charge in today's politics.
Cris Cooper's character's dysfunction with the English language was so very similar to Bush's and really appeared pathetic in a man running for governor, but to his credit he didn't say "nucular" one time but did have that same unfortunate impromptu speaking difficulty that Bush has when speaking off the cuff. Really embarrassing and hard to watch, just like with Bush.
Kris Kristofferson's crusty, empire-building, power-mad, money-grubbing, Sagebrush-Rebellion character scared the hell out of me in the same way Dick Cheney does, as did R. Dreyfuss' Karl Rove-like character. Both were excellent as the roles fit them well. Wayyyyyy creepy both, but even more scary to know that real people exist that are just exactly that way and are running our country!!!
The Huston family entry in this film was the loser protagonist, but a weak choice for the leading role due to his too-laid-back style and little boy, disingenuous big smile, plus his family's obvious star-making push behind him. "Let's get the boy a job" shouldn't be the reason for casting movie leads. A more bulldogged, but younger James Woods or Richard Dreyfus-type lead would have been much more credible in the role, and probably would have saved the film. Darryl Hannah was very good in her small role as the slutty, trust-fund sister of the candidate, uselessly taking up space in life but apparently giving lots of men good times in the sack through the years.(On 2nd thought, maybe not so useless after all.)
Overall, this film made me sad and uncomfortable. Sad to know that it characterized so well the political attitudes in the American presidential office today, the very one that will make all of us suffer greatly until it is finally unseated. But, also sad that the film was not put together a bit better with the good actors and story it had. Then, it could have been as effective and as good as "Wag The Dog".
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