Saturday, June 3, 2017

Trumped: Inside the Greatest Political Upset of All Time

Year 9, Day 153 - 6/2/17 - Movie #2,648

BEFORE: Donald Trump appeared at the end of "Weiner", to weigh in on that scandal, and that gave me the idea to extend the documentary chain by one more day - which I think might be helpful in early July where there seems to be a 7-day gap between the day I want to watch "Spotlight" and the day I'll probably go to see "Spider-Man: Homecoming", both with Michael Keaton in them.  So I either find a way to fill that gap, take a few days off in June or July, or find a way to extend the chain by adding some last-minute fill-ins.  I'll try for that last option where I can.

THE PLOT: Footage of candidate Trump, from the primaries through the debates to the dawning realization that the businessman will become the President of the U.S.

AFTER: Rarely do I say that I regret watching a movie, even if I give one a low score I can usually find a way to learn something from it, even if that's something about what NOT to do when making a film.  But tonight I have to own the fact that I watched this, and it was almost completely pointless, because it was assembled from archive footage that we've all seen in the news, plus some additional material culled from the thousands (?) of hours of footage shot while making the Showtime political commentary show "The Circus".

So yeah, there are bits where the three hosts of that show go out on the road, and they can't believe what's happening as Trump's movement grows, and the other candidates go from "He won't be the Republican nominee" to "What if he's the Republican nominee?" and finally are all asked "Will you support him as the Republican nominee?"  The fact that the hosts are front-and-center in the new footage should prevent this from even being taken seriously as a documentary - who do they think they are, Michael Moore?  He's really the only person who can get away with that.

The hosts, however, fail to consider the 5 W's of journalism - oh, they're fine with the who, what, where and when, but there's not even a nod to "why".  ("How" is completely out of the picture too, I guess that's maybe for the FBI to determine.).  Instead this plays all of the "greatest hits" of the 2016 campaign in rapid succession - there's "Trump disses John McCain", "Trump says that Mexicans are rapists", and "Trump mocks a disabled reporter".  Which are things that would have curtailed the campaign of anyone but him - the more controversy and scandal he created the more it seemed to feed the beast.  And the more he played on Americans' fear and dissatisfaction, the higher he rose in the polls.

The problem becomes, who is the target audience for this documentary?  Even if you haven't seen "The Circus", you've seen 90% of this film on the news last year, if you were paying attention.  I think this film would be great if you've got a friend or family member who just woke up from an 18-month coma, and you want to bring them up to speed on the state of the Union at a rapid pace, but that's about it.  Maybe future historians will need this to capture the specific zeitgeist of the year 2016 (when the whole class is throwing up, that means they're paying attention...) but other than that, it's fairly useless.

And it seems like technology itself didn't want me to watch this movie - as I played it from Showtime's On Demand channel, the sound went out about every thirty seconds, forcing me to rewind a few seconds numerous times to counter the buffering and re-activate the sound.  It's possible this was a problem just with my DVR, or perhaps it was a problem with the version on the system, and if no one else has complained or taken the time to fix it, that means nobody else is watching, which seems about right.

SPOILER ALERT: Trump wins, and the country gets screwed.

Also starring Mark Halperin, John Heilemann, Mark McKinnon, with archive footage of Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorino.

RATING: 2 out of 10 words - I have the best words.

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