At one point during filming, George W. Bush took the camera from Alexandra Pelosi and turned it on her. Pelosi included this moment in the finished film and gave Bush a credit for cinematography. See more »
Interesting and amusing but not a great documentary in terms of what it sets out to do and should have been much better
Despite being warned by her Democrat mother to stay out of the media and politics, Alexandra Pelosi winds up working for NBC and spending a year with Texan Governor George Bush as he heads out on the campaign trail to become the next American President. Joining the press core as the Republican primaries start with Bush being viewed as the underdog to John McCain, Pelosi decides to film her campaign journey with a camcorder.
An interesting prospect this one. Not only does it offer an insight into the machine that is the political campaign machine but the subject happens to be George W. Bush not only one of the most unpopular and controversial Presidents of my lifetime, but also one who's nature of election should make for an interesting conclusion to the film. The results are mixed though. I'm not convinced that Pelosi had totally decided what she was trying to do when she first picked up the camcorder as she doesn't really deliver a good documentary/polemic on the nature of the media as part of a well-oiled political process. Yes she gets interviews with her colleagues talking about how what they are shooting isn't real, or complaining about the pack or being self-effacing about being lemmings, but this didn't really convince considering in later scenes we see them all back in the feeding frenzy and doing just what they criticised their peers for doing. It probably didn't help to have interviewed people who look down their noses rather smugly at the subject and talk in a condescending way about it either, since it just made them like snobs as well as being hypocritical.
She doesn't really have a structure either; not just in regards the film (which you can understand is already set by the passage of time) but her points are not well made. The tone varies from the sort of stuff that concerns her fancying a fellow journalist, to attempts at more serious questions about impartiality when being so buddy-buddy with Bush and his staff. It is never dull because at worst it is amusing (bemusing?) to see behind the media curtain, but if she had genuine aims to make her film a look at the media within this process then I'm afraid that the material mostly undermines her status as a documentary maker as well as taking away from her points.
If some of the film is about that, then the main appeal to the casual viewer will be the fly-on-the-wall access to the most powerful man in the world, George Bush. This part is engaging because there is no doubt that Bush is far from the stupid man that he is painted as. Sure he has a rather homely "average Joe" swagger about him that doesn't totally fit with the demands of his position, but he is a very charismatic man and it shines through in this film. Problem I had though was again to do with structure as she just seemed content with pointing and shooting without having an overall point or argument to make. I appreciate that this was fly-on-the-wall and that the point is not to manipulate to make things fit "a point", but I'm only suggesting a reason for the film being decided with the material structured around that, not spin.
A shame then that it is nowhere near as good as it should have been, but even with the rather aimless footage has sufficient access to Bush and sufficient fly-on-the-wall insight into how the media covers the political campaign to be of interest to many a casual viewer.
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