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Game Change (2011)

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I always get Mark Halperin (who wrote this book) confused with Mark Helprin (who wrote Winter's Tale, Freddy and Fredericka, A Soldier of the Great War).

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I don't know why I keep posting these. It feels unhealthy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPhh7mch5zo

You know, I'm curious about the movie--and there's no doubt that the election says a lot about USian politics and culture--and there's a point to which the movie is a part of that conversation--

But I can't help thinking that the events the movie depicts are still too close; we've not had time to pick over the whole Palin-mania phenomenon, the Tea Party movement, or any of the other stuff that went down then--mostly because it's still going down. And that thought makes me doubtful of the movie's success (as a film, I mean--I don't know at all about its financial prospects).

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8 days to go, and ... wait, there's still a Palin Pac?

Entertainment Weekly, Ken Tucker -

Jay Roach, who directed the Austin Powers films and won an Emmy for the HBO political drama Recount, knows from parody and keeps his actors from slipping into it. That's crucial for Moore, since it's tempting to overdo Palin's twangy, consonant-droppin' speech and wayward use of grammar — the very qualities Tina Fey exaggerated meticulously on Saturday Night Live, a performance we see Palin/Moore watch, aghast, in Game Change.

There's no point in trying to argue that Game Change is a "fair" film: In ignoring the source book's long sections on Hillary Clinton's campaign in order to concentrate on McCain and Palin, and by re-creating many of the latter's greatest gaffes — her inability to cite a single newspaper she's read in her Katie Couric interview, for instance — it obviously means for us to snort and chuckle. (The movie does a wizardly job of editing actual footage of Couric and other interviewers so that they interact seamlessly with Moore's Palin.) But Game Change does stress a theme that applies to both sides of the aisle. Schmidt is the one who articulates it, while talking about the ever-changing "48-hour news cycle": Trying to calm fears that Palin's flubs will hurt McCain, he asserts, "The news is no longer meant to be important. It's just entertainment." And as we can see in the current election year, news-as-entertainment more than ever renders political issues superficial, with a media corps anxious to focus on whoever is the current poll-winning "star."

Chicago Sun Times, Richard Roeper -

Our first look at Ed Harris as John McCain is startling. The hair and makeup are perfect, and Harris has the mannerisms down cold. The depiction of McCain in “Game Change” is immensely flattering. He’s a genuinely decent man who has a fierce desire to be president but also wants to run the right kind of campaign. But in the summer of 2008, he’s also savvy enough to know without some kind of a miracle, he’s doomed. Watching Obama’s rock star welcome in Berlin, McCain mutters, “If he heals a sick baby we’re really f-----" ...

Julianne Moore’s portrayal of Palin is nothing short of brilliant and will almost certainly result in an Emmy nomination. (Harris and Harrelson also deliver Emmy-quality work.) The physical transformation is amazing, but that’s just the start. Although she peppers her cadence with “holy geez” and “flippin’ awesome,” Moore’s interpretation of Palin is less cartoonish than Tina Fey’s comic take. (There’s one meta-moment when Moore as Palin is watching Fey as Palin.) When Palin is stung by criticism, when she’s roaring in anger when her kids are attacked in the media or when she’s falling into a funk when things go horribly wrong, Moore is giving us a multi-dimensional, largely sympathetic portrayal ...

Edited by Persiflage

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But I can't help thinking that the events the movie depicts are still too close; we've not had time to pick over the whole Palin-mania phenomenon, the Tea Party movement, or any of the other stuff that went down then--mostly because it's still going down. And that thought makes me doubtful of the movie's success (as a film, I mean--I don't know at all about its financial prospects).

It's Oliver Stone's W. all over again.

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I saw it and it is much more enjoyable than Oliver Stone's W. turned out to be.

I think the risk of something like this is making characters like McCain and Palin into caricatures. But they avoid doing this because Ed Harris and Julianne Moore are both such good actors. They lose themselves in their roles. I haven't liked John McCain this much for a long time. Ed Harris makes him personable, old-fashioned, and down to earth. Whatever you think about Palin (and I personally don't view her in a positive light), the film actually asks you to consider what really happened to her. It's easy to simplify your opinion of a person like Sarah Palin, but Moore presents us with a character who is willingly led onto a stage where she clearly doesn't belong and the effects that this has on her are not simple.

The film both shows you how incredibly disastrous running someone like Sarah Palin during a presidential campaign turned out to be, but it doesn't make you think McCain's campaign strategists and staff are stupid. It makes their choosing Palin as the VP choice completely understandable. It makes sense at the beginning. Compared to old boring white guys, compared conservatives like Pawlenty or Santorum, compared to other women Republican options, Palin looks like an aggressive way to fight Obama's rising pop celebrity status. In fact, unlike W., the stars of this film are really the political strategists and staff. And between Woody Harelson, Ron Livingston and Sarah Paulson's acting, you can't help but identify with their decisions and their astonishment. When Steve Schmidt ruminates at a bar at the end that it wasn't a political campaign, but instead it was a reality TV show, he's hitting exactly on the problem all the characters in the film have been wrestling with the whole time.

So instead of a film mocking or lambasting Sarah Palin, I'd say the film is asking how you run a campaign or involve yourselves in politics with our modern culture the way it is. Game Change is a cultural commentary film more than anything else. The irony is how they constantly watch Palin's fantastic skill at manipulating and/or charming crowds (Moore does a great job with this). Pop celebrity-wise, she was like a meteor. At the end of the film, you get the impression that Schmidt's plan to counter Obama's celebrity status was more successful than he ever dreamed it would be, but it was the type of success that could win a campaign.

It's the first actual 2012 film I've seen and I doubt it'll go on any top of lists. But it's amusing and thought-provoking none-the-less, with a number of fun "what if's".

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Haven't seen the movie but have read the book. Based on the coverage of the film, I'd say that anyone who now goes back to the book is going to be very surprised to find that Palin gets relatively brief coverage. Instead, the book centers on the Hillary/Obama contest. And it's fascinating stuff, worthy of a movie. I guess that's not the movie that was made, though.

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The film both shows you how incredibly disastrous running someone like Sarah Palin during a presidential campaign turned out to be, but it doesn't make you think McCain's campaign strategists and staff are stupid. It makes their choosing Palin as the VP choice completely understandable. It makes sense at the beginning.

Perhaps it does not make them look stupid (more on that in a second) but it does make them look hypocritical and disingenuous. Basically the one staffer comments pre-pick that McCain is running a "Country First" campaign and then picks a candidate who is not a country-first pick. McCain, on the phone with the man in charge of the vetting asks if Palin is ready to be president and the response is "no." (Actually it is that she won't be by January 20th, which is actually a more damning version of "no.") Yet he picks her anyway. It makes "sense" if by "sense" we mean only from a strategic, tactical point of view--and if the only goal is winning. Sarah Paulson's character confesses that she could not vote for the candidate she was working for. I don't mean this in a confrontational way, but, yes, I think that "stupid" is an apt adjective for running a candidate who has the best chance of winning but that you yourself don't think is qualified for the job.

That said, the film was more entertaining than I anticipated, though I was disappointed that it took the book and reduced it to a Sarah Palin story. One of the strengths of the book, in my opinion, is just how wretched John Edwards came off, which went a long way towards reminding us (if we needed reminding) that supporting a candidate you don't believe in is a hypocrisy not limited to one political party.

Edited by kenmorefield

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I can totally understand focusing on one portion for a two hour film, I think a lot of story would have to be skimped...but a "Game Change 2:Electric Boogaloo" that focuses on the Democrat's run seems to be in order.

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Oh man. It sounds like this should have been a major mini-series. Multiple character arcs and all that fun stuff.

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Edit: The book also had a bit more about McCain's infamously volatile temper--a feature that is entirely absent from the script and Harris's portrayal which focuses on giving us an affable if somewhat befuddled old guy who seems as naive about the political process as Palin and whose primary positive quality comes across as being willing to be led (okay, controlled) by staffers. I think that a misfire on several levels, not the least of which is that it makes everyone in the Republican staff look even worse, because Palin's nomination doesn't come across as a devil's bargain designed to get a genuinely competent and admirable leader elected but as just a more egregious example of caring about winning more than caring about who is doing the job.

I felt like I had (and have had) more respect for John McCain than the film did, and for those who know my politics, that should say something. Persiflage said the film avoids making him into a caricature. I somewhat disagree. Perhaps (but only perhaps) it stopped short of caricature, but it certainly did not, in my opinion, portray John McCain as a serious person or a competent candidate. To give it its due, it did present him as a person of personal integrity in his refusal to invoke Jeremiah Wright and his reluctance to run a negative campaign, though even there, it is somewhat ambiguous as to whether this is tactical decency, principle, or naivete. His response to the woman saying Obama is a Muslim, is portrayed, I think, as coming from a place of shock and bewilderment that people actually think that. I find that an implausible interpretation of historical events. I actually think McCain must have had vast reservoirs of conviction to resist many of the temptations he did for as long as he did. I didn't see anything in Harris's performance that began to explain the loyalty and admiration that many people genuinely seem to have for him.

Edited by kenmorefield

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I don't have HBO... but I would think this thread would be remiss if it did not mention any of the articles on www.bighollywood.breitbart.com , in particular, the "Top Ten Lies of Game Change" by John Nolte. His points, I found, are entirely valid, regardless as to whether you like Palin or not. It makes those who say that Julianne Moore's performance is accurate have second thoughts.

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Really? I found the article full of nothing but hearsay and conjecture. And his definition of "lie" is incredibly broad. I got the impression they expected a hatchet piece and got exactly what they believed it would be (imagine that). I also found the points poorly defended. A person I know who watched it went though and challenged each claim of "lie" pretty well. I have to watch the film before I can offer any real assessment-which I am hoping to do tonight (it is on the DVR)...but I did not find the Big Hollywood articles remotely compelling...they mostly told me exactly what I expected Big Hollywood writers to say.

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Really? I found the article full of nothing but hearsay and conjecture. And his definition of "lie" is incredibly broad. I got the impression they expected a hatchet piece and got exactly what they believed it would be (imagine that). I also found the points poorly defended. A person I know who watched it went though and challenged each claim of "lie" pretty well. I have to watch the film before I can offer any real assessment-which I am hoping to do tonight (it is on the DVR)...but I did not find the Big Hollywood articles remotely compelling...they mostly told me exactly what I expected Big Hollywood writers to say.

Just because they're against it doesn't mean they didn't raise legitimate points. "I so don't want to go back to Alaska." "There's no way I'm going on stage w anyone who's pro-choice.". "So find me a woman." "That is the opposite of being cleared of all wrong doing.". Culvahouse's failure to vet Palin. And that the Republicans lost because of her (and not because of the tanking economy, and McCain's "suspension" of the campaign).

Yep. All good, _substantiated_ points.

BH is also right when they ask why this sliver of the book was pushed to be released THIS past weekend, of all times. Because it is obvious that 18 months ago, it was assumed that Palin would run for the presidency, and that this film was an attempt to derail her run (humanizing touches aside).

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I thought the film was well done and entertaining, with excellent performances all around, particularly Julianne Moore. Of course, the film was slanted toward the typical HBO audience. But I thought there was genuine warmth in the scenes with Sarah Palin and her family, and the scene of her with the Downs Syndrome folks was touching.

Even with the film's factual flaws I have to admit, Game Change does stand out among the dogpile and vitriol of cable news, talk radio, and the blogosphere, because it treats its central characters like actual human beings, instead of simply as pawns in the ongoing culture war. I give more of the credit to the actors rather than the writers for this, though.

Edited by Crow

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Just because they're against it doesn't mean they didn't raise legitimate points. "I so don't want to go back to Alaska." "There's no way I'm going on stage w anyone who's pro-choice.". "So find me a woman." "That is the opposite of being cleared of all wrong doing.". Culvahouse's failure to vet Palin. And that the Republicans lost because of her (and not because of the tanking economy, and McCain's "suspension" of the campaign).

Yep. All good, _substantiated_ points.

Except that their logic hinges not on factual refutes (the abortion bit...they don't show any disputing fact...the just offer conjecture... she appeared on stage with Leiberman...that is not actually proof the scene was a lie...it is BH guessing as to why they think it was inaccurate). All their reasons are guesses and conjecture-equalliy as biased as they feel the film was.

As far as the assumption about timing? That is completely an unknown, and strictly guessing on the behalf of the film's critics. It certainly is not based on any actual facts. No, by the Big Hollywood standard of what constitutes a lie? That is a complete fabrication and a lie. ;)

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Just because they're against it doesn't mean they didn't raise legitimate points. "I so don't want to go back to Alaska." "There's no way I'm going on stage w anyone who's pro-choice.". "So find me a woman." "That is the opposite of being cleared of all wrong doing.". Culvahouse's failure to vet Palin. And that the Republicans lost because of her (and not because of the tanking economy, and McCain's "suspension" of the campaign).

Yep. All good, _substantiated_ points.

Except that their logic hinges not on factual refutes (the abortion bit...they don't show any disputing fact...the just offer conjecture... she appeared on stage with Leiberman...that is not actually proof the scene was a lie...it is BH guessing as to why they think it was inaccurate). All their reasons are guesses and conjecture-equalliy as biased as they feel the film was.

As far as the assumption about timing? That is completely an unknown, and strictly guessing on the behalf of the film's critics. It certainly is not based on any actual facts. No, by the Big Hollywood standard of what constitutes a lie? That is a complete fabrication and a lie. ;)

Except that the quote itself rested on an 24 anonymous persons, who were not willing to put their names on the line, or Steve Schmidt, who has a very good reason as to why he attacked Palin, and goes against what John McCain and many many others claim actually happened.

I'd gladly take any scene in GC as pure conjecture (save for the pieces which are beyond dispute--the Couric interview, the debates). The bottom line is, if the subject matter is still living and states it's a lie, we are to believe them.

To air an important movie like this--in MARCH? Sorry. BH's logic is sound. you punishment is to watch either The Undefeated or Ziegler's "Media Malpractice."

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I felt Moore did a pretty solid job, tho at times seem to teeter close to that edge of parody. But I found Palin more sympathetic in Game Change than in any of her promotional appearances.

I really enjoyed the performances and thought folks did a terrific job in their roles. It was definitely a compelling watch.

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Take note of what? They offered zero proof of the allegation that this was planned to derail a persidential run. It's pure speculation on the part of Big Hollywood. Why should I be willing to accept their cherry picking of who to believe-but feel it is a negative on the part of the filmmakers.

Their continued campaign of trying to paint this as a brutal hatchet job is laughable. Calm? Cool? The movie shows Scmidt flipping out and losing his cool throughout the film.

The film is guilty of showing Palin, McCain and oters as human, with both positive attributes and flaws.

Seriously, why do my conservative friends keep thinking that linking to Big Hollywood is helping their case that Big Hollywood is right about the film? That's like saying Al Gore is right about global Warming Because Al Gore said he was right about Global Warming happening in Al Gore's movie. It is purely circular logic from a site that is expected to see any portrayal of Palin as something other than Amazing Godess as a distortion. I know they see Palin as a mythological hero.

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The article has quotes from people who were there, who dispute the quotes in the film, including the "pro-choice" quote you dispute. And unlike the vast majority of the sources from "Game Change", these aren't anonymous. It disproved your thesis.

I was waiting for a stronger rebuttal from you.

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