I'm heading to Dallas today for an advanced screening of "W." Should be pretty fun, and I'm looking forward to it.
The movie is generating tons of buzz right now with the morning talk shows. Brolin makes an appearance tonight on Letterman. (This weekend, SNL. That could be really fun.)
While all the arrest controversy stuff has been, well, distracting for a movie critic, I'm interested to finally write about "W." on its merits alone.
Early reviews have been mixed but nevertheless intriguing. Lots of critics are singling out Brolin's performance as solid, and anyone who saw "No Country for Old Men," "In the Valley of Elah," "American Gangster," and, yes, "Planet Terror" knows he is on one serious hot streak. In a word, the guy was brilliant in "No Country."For a really good interview about craft, listen to last night's edition of Fresh Air. (If you missed it, Kathryn Usher made a funny comment about that.) "W.'s" going to be a very, very big film for Brolin's career, I think. Stone has a history of getting the best from his leading men. (Don't believe me? Tom Cruise, Kevin Costner, Val Kilmer and James Woods arguably gave their career bests for Stone films. We should expect nothing less from Brolin.)
Lots of early reviews, too, suggest the movie is incomplete, that we don't know enough about the legacy of the Bush presidency to fictionalize it. Hmm. I'm always wary of criticisms that take on a film for what it "isn't," but we'll see. That's a tough question to answer when it comes to portraying a well-known, well-documented subject.
So far, the best thing I've read so far is the advance from The New York Times' Richard L. Berke. This insight might be key to understanding "W.": "... all in all, the straightforwardness of 'W.' suggests that Mr. Stone set out to make a critical biography but was somehow spooked. The director who has built a career on vowing to unearth hidden truths made a movie that feels more familiar than revelatory."
Are we to criticize Oliver Stone because he's not conforming to the artist we know as Oliver Stone? Don't know yet. Interesting question, though.
For early reviews, check out these:
Time (love this review)
L.A. Times (critics' roundup)
Mine comes Friday.
PHOTO: Josh Brolin as the Decider in Chief. Scene filmed at Independence Stadium. (Sidney Ray Baldwin/Lions Gate Entertainment)