Thursday, October 16, 2008


"Recount" is a made-for-HBO docudrama that offers you the chance to be a fly on the wall during the 2000 Election Recount that lasted for a whole month and drove Bush into the spot that he has been in for eight years now. The film is partisan, and when I say that, I mean leaning left. But still, it gives you chance to see behind closed doors, and beyond what CNN and MSNBC offered you. "Recount" mostly surrounds Ron Klain (played well by Kevin Spacey), Al Gore's former campaign chairman and his Democratic staff as they fight against the result that Bush has been awarded Florida. It's good to see that Spacey's next project after "21" was actually very good. In this film, Spacey turns in his best performance since (should I say) "American Beauty" or "The Usual Suspects." This is Emmy material. I was thinking the pacing was off when the election (i.e. Gore's projection, then retracted projection, then Bush's projection) flashed by under 20 minutes in. But I definitely was missing the point. There is a movie behind the recount. Also, I felt the dialogue was a little forced, but I was too caught up to notice that most of the time. Anyways, we all know the result of the recount and we know what the result has been. The genius employed here is that you are actually enrapt and you actually believe it can actually happen, that Gore can pull ahead, that he can prevail victorious and continue the vision of Bill Clinton. The film is actually dramatic, and really is nail-biting action right down to the last hanging chad. But it really wouldn't be the same without the great supporting performances: Denis Leary as Michael Whouley, Ed Begley, Jr. as David Boies, Bruce McGill as Mac Stipanovich, Laura Dern uncannily as the overtly inexperienced Katherine Harris, and one of my favorite actors, Tom Wilkinson, as James Baker. All of the performances enhance the film by previously pretty bad director Jay Roach ("Meet the Parents," the Austin Powers series), who turns in a polished job at the helm, and editor Alan Baumgarten (who edited some low-quality stuff, but did perform the good editing in "Fever Pitch"), who wisely edited in some archival footage along with the footage shot by Jim Denault ("Maria Full of Grace," "Boys Don't Cry"), and also scorer Dave Grusin ("Ishtar," "Hope Floats" LOL) who does great work on the music. Bottom line: this film is set apart from 2006's "Bobby," and other political dramas because it is well acted, edited, and directed and connects with that side of you (for Democrats, at least) that was maddened by those highly Republican decisions made in 2000. A-

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