Sunday, March 11, 2012

HBO's "Game Change" (about Sarah Palin) is great film-making; is it true to history?


The film “Game Change”, about Sarah Palin’s vice-presidential candidacy and other participation in John McCain’s 2008 GOP presidential bid, directed by Jay Roach, ought to have been a theatrical film. The film looked great in high-definition flat screen, but as Regal Cinema says, “think big or go home”.

Julianne Moore is convincing as “this is Sarah”, even if she overplays her vulnerability a bit.  Ed Harris isn’t quite so convincing as McCain, but baldy Woody Harrelson blows us away with his authoritarian personality of Steve Schmidt.

Of course, the funniest part of the movie comes when the campaign finds out that Sarah “doesn’t know anything”. Her first blooper is that Saddam Hussein started 9/11.  (No, it was Al Qaeda).  She nearly has a nervous breakdown when forced to deal with issues in an intellectual way, with critical thinking.  Bluntly, Schmidt says “She doesn’t know anything”.  She flubs her interview with Katie Couric.  She resents the instusiveness of her prep coaches.  Only her “people skills”, that could raise a disabled child, bring her along. She is challenged as to whether she can promote views slightly different from her own (McCain was less conservative) and she says no problem. But she winds up memorizing answers for debate questions. 

This is almost like the debate scandal in “Days of our Lives”.

Is this real history?  Or is “Game|Change” like “The Social Network” in that it misrepresents a major public figure to make a “movie”, to entertain.  It’s funny to contemplate Sarah Palin joining the company of diametrically opposite Mark Zuckerberg.  It’s also instructive to wonder why “creators of culture” usually don’t want to run for office.  You never saw a Steve Jobs run for president. The nation is worse off for it.
   
The film is adapted by screenwriter Mark Strong from the book by Mark Halperin and John Heileman. The music score, by Theodore Shapiro, sounds familiar, with its rapid themes in the cellos. 
   
HBO produced the film with PlayTone as the main partner.  Will it do a theatrical release anyway?
   
The website is here.


A good comparison will be the film "The War Room" about the Clinton campaign in 1992, from Chris Hegedus and G. Pennebaker (October Films). 

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