Skip

What if it happened?
October 29, 2006 10:59 PM   Subscribe

Death of a President...the first six minutes [youtube]. This slick mockumentary imagines the assasination of George W. Bush. So far, most critics have panned it; apparently the filmmakers have managed to take the premise of Bush being killed and made it...boring. Still, for those of you who'll gladly pay $8-10 to watch Bush get shot, here's where it's going to be playing (and yes, some theater chains have refused to show it)
posted by Deathalicious (53 comments total)

 
You can also save your money, and watch the assasination clip here.
posted by Deathalicious at 11:02 PM on October 29, 2006


You know, there are a handful of famous people that I hate enough so that when I find out that they're dead I won't mourn in the slightest.

But I can't imagine wanting to watch a fictional enactment of any of them being murdered. (Not even Jerry Falwell.)
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:20 PM on October 29, 2006


I saw it at the Toronto Film Festival in September where it was being promoted as one of the hot tickets of the festival. Controversy aside, it was an interesting premise, but where it fails is not in bad taste, but in boring filmmaking.
posted by Robot Johnny at 11:31 PM on October 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


The death of Dumbya would mean the swearing in of Cheney. No thanks. What we have is bad enough.
posted by Cranberry at 11:37 PM on October 29, 2006


RJ--That's definitely the impression I've gotten from the clips.

Two ironies about this film:
  1. This film is being criticized as being a liberal film, but if anything it seems to humanize Bush and present him and his colleagues in a favorable light
  2. As most critics point out, "When judged against the real-life outlandishness piling up on a near-daily basis, this what-if scenario can't really measure up."
But, hot damn it looks just like a documentary!
posted by Deathalicious at 11:40 PM on October 29, 2006


Oh, and to further its emo cred: the movie has its own myspace page.
posted by Deathalicious at 11:47 PM on October 29, 2006


I watched it. [it is boring]

It makes me laugh when I hear the knee jerk opposition from Republicans. It's like those censorship wackjobs who listen to reports on how wrong a book is without looking for themselves. I watched it expecting it to be an amusing bit of european left wing hatchet work and was quite suprised at how much it seemed like a message paid for and approved by the RNC.
posted by srboisvert at 11:50 PM on October 29, 2006


You know, there are a handful of famous people that I hate enough so that when I find out that they're dead I won't mourn in the slightest.

But I can't imagine wanting to watch a fictional enactment of any of them being murdered.


Go on, give in to the dark side.
posted by chillmost at 11:59 PM on October 29, 2006


I watched it expecting it to be an amusing bit of european left wing hatchet work and was quite suprised at how much it seemed like a message paid for and approved by the RNC.

It's because if an assasination does happen, it's going to be sponsored by the RNC.

Think about it. Who benefits if there is a Bush assasination? The Dems? Hardly. The Republicans, rather than being saddled with the muddled legacy Bush now represents would have a good ol' martyr in their quiver instead. Cheney might even be able to win an election on such coattails.

Craziest theory I've heard this week. Crazier times.
posted by namespan at 12:06 AM on October 30, 2006


That's kind of brilliant, namespan. And talk about playing the fear card. I can see the story now. "A despicable act of terror striking at the very heart of American democracy."
posted by dreamsign at 12:12 AM on October 30, 2006


Hrm. If they could only do it Scanners-style, I think I'd have my NaNoWriMo plot.
posted by dreamsign at 12:13 AM on October 30, 2006


The reason it's so boring is that rather than look at the reaction of the world to Bush's assasination, the film played as a documentary trying to explain how they would go about tracking down the shooter. For the most part, they could have made the same exact film using a fictional president.
posted by gfrobe at 12:44 AM on October 30, 2006


Sure, any Bush assassination that didn't simultaneously take out Cheney obviously would be a turn for the worse, but that's just one reason why (hello, Secret Service!) I hope only the best for W. And I wish Mr Cheney only good health, too. Keep that pacemaker battery charged, sir! I want them both to be around for when all the kids in American schools start reading history books calling their administration the worst in US history.

Spelling help: there are always two asses, the shooter and the shot, in every ass-ass-ination.
posted by pracowity at 12:54 AM on October 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


It's true that, in one way, Range's film is less ethically questionable than traditional faction. The risk of historically based films, even as brilliant as Paul Greengrass's United 93 and Stephen Frears's The Queen, is that audiences - and future historians - may come to believe that the film-makers actually knew what happened inside the 9/11 flights and at Balmoral after Diana's death rather than elegantly making it up. Death of a President avoids this problem because we know at all times that what we are watching must be fiction; if the events were ever to happen, Range's film would become a useless curiosity.

Like pins in a voodoo doll - A mock-documentary depicting Bush's killing is morally questionable and dramatically weak

Article by Mark Lawson in the Guardian that makes a few good points.

Personally I thought it was interesting, but not exactly riveting and I think people saying it is boring are doing so because they have come to it with skewed expectations of what it will show and discuss.

Worth watching at least once - no matter your political affiliations.
posted by stumcg at 1:30 AM on October 30, 2006


I too thought this was going to be some silly 'Bush killed' fantasy but actually found it quite interesting, quite well balanced if lacking some verite in the characterisation of those involved.
posted by biffa at 1:45 AM on October 30, 2006


namespan: here is my attempt to out-crazy you. All the bad press about the republicans like the Foley scandal are on purpose so the republicans lose the congress..on purpose. Why? So when the executive branch a) has someone to blame for the failure of policy and b) has a foil to commit the final coup-de-tat *against*. See they can't very well overthrow the party they are ostensibly allied with, but could get traction throwing out the 'weak' democrats who enabled the (false flag) horrible attack by 'the enemy'.
posted by Osmanthus at 2:01 AM on October 30, 2006


I saw it on E4 in England when it was first shown here. Up to the assassination it was good and had the potential to be fantastic. From the start, the plot was well developed and the tension grew nicely. The documentary style (which seems to be beloved of English TV producers making "disaster" programmes) really suits the subject matter.

The problem was the aftermath, because the authorities' hunt for the killer seemed rushed and had a cobbled together feel. Part of the problem is that the documentary structure relies on realism, but it's not feasible that a genuine doc wouldn't mention any world reaction or would gloss over the 'twist'.

It was an idea that merited a mini-series or at least a two-parter - as it is, the film just peters out unsatisfactorily.
posted by patricio at 2:33 AM on October 30, 2006


Metacritic's more reasonable ranking system grants it a 51%.

I watched it last week. As a fake historical documentary, it's extremely well done, and I kind of loved that it all went down iin Chicago, next to the downtown Northwestern campus were I take classes. The fictional aftermath wasn't so thrilling, basically a recapitulation of the post-911 style investigation, only with fewer civil liberties. I suppose I wanted something more extreme, like the rise of a V-for-Vendetta type fascist society, documented over a couple decades, but the film's scope is strictly short-term.
posted by unmake at 2:41 AM on October 30, 2006


I don't know if they intended to make right wing propoganda, but they did. At the end of the 6.5 minute clip, the police superintendent is blaming the assassination on "militant" anti-war groups. Because, you know, those pacifists... always putting holes in people.
posted by Clay201 at 2:44 AM on October 30, 2006


I don't know if they intended to make right wing propoganda, but they did. At the end of the 6.5 minute clip, the police superintendent is blaming the assassination on "militant" anti-war groups. Because, you know, those pacifists... always putting holes in people.

There is a reason why you shouldn't judge it without watching all of it.
posted by srboisvert at 2:52 AM on October 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


Anti-war protester here. The movie was AWESOME. It got the documentary-style bit spot-on and the tension and suspense in the movie rocked the house.
posted by By The Grace of God at 3:09 AM on October 30, 2006


It tried way too hard to be real and forgot to be interesting. After the shooting they just go through the motions of what would obviously happen, with no imagination whatsoever.
posted by cillit bang at 3:21 AM on October 30, 2006


srboisvert

Do they, somewhere in the remainder of the film, point out that the idea of a presidential assasination being carried out by 'militant anti-war activists' is at odds with reality? If they don't, then the movie is right wing propoganda. Of course, certain episodes of Law and Order have been guilty of exactly the same thing (and probably other cop dramas have as well), so this sort of thing doesn't surprise me.
posted by Clay201 at 3:48 AM on October 30, 2006


I thought it was fairly good - criticising it for missing out world reaction is a bit daft, since it's pitched from the beginning as a future documentary about the security services' failures in their investigation to catch the assasin. I even thought the dullness worked in its favour - it very much had the air of the sort of tentative, over-balanced documentary that airs all the time.

The problem was the aftermath, because the authorities' hunt for the killer seemed rushed and had a cobbled together feel.

WTF? That was the whole point of the film. It's not like the authorities did a sterling investigative job the last time an American president got whacked, is it? For a while, actually, I thought the film was going to be a Kennedy allegory, with a Muslim as the modern Commie-equivalent patsy of choice - the depressed and grief-stricken Gulf War veteran assasin twist felt like a cop out, albeit a believable one, when they could have gone all sensational on our asses with a full-blown conspiracy wig-out.
posted by jack_mo at 3:57 AM on October 30, 2006


What if it happened, you ask? I dunno for sure, but I can't wait to read the Metafilter thread and the ensuing MeTa thread it would create.

I'm guessing 1000+ comments, over 50 favourites and the flamewar to end all flame wars. The MeTa thread would be full of GIFs and JPEGs and fake playing cards summoning left and right wingers. Cortex would probably even make a ballad on Music. It'd be the Metafilter Rangnarok, basically, and it'd be oh so cool to watch.

Oh plus the world would be a much better place yadda yadda yadda....
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:03 AM on October 30, 2006


Clay201:
Do they, somewhere in the remainder of the film, point out that the idea of a presidential assasination being carried out by 'militant anti-war activists' is at odds with reality?

In a manner of speaking, yes.

I think the preview has left you with a false impression of how it might pan out - and by the sounds of it you would find it interesting to watch.

Both sides of the political divide will find things to take issue with, but it's pretty evenly done and never goes too over the top. That, in fact, is the reason some folk found it boring i think.
posted by stumcg at 4:33 AM on October 30, 2006


yeah, namespan nailed it. RNC did it!

See also Jesus Camp which has kids worshipping to a photo of George Bush.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:41 AM on October 30, 2006


(n) assassin (a member of a secret order of Muslims (founded in the 12th century) who terrorized and killed Christian Crusaders)
posted by jaronson at 5:44 AM on October 30, 2006


The death of Dumbya would mean the swearing in of Cheney. No thanks. What we have is bad enough.

Just a hypothetical what if: If Cheney is running the policy and payola to benefit energy companies from behind the scenes anyway, what's the difference? Perhaps it would be more honest to have the people who run the government as its figureheads, for a change — maybe people would think more carefully about their vote, next time.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:46 AM on October 30, 2006


jack_mo: I wasn't so much commenting on the quality of the investigation, as on the quality of the narrative itself. I see your point that the programme felt as sketchy as the investigation itself but the conclusion was not as rich in detail as the lead in had been and the 'twist' was one-dimensional. I was surprised because his film on the gridlock was excellent. Perhaps you're right and I just felt shortchanged by lack of total conspiracyrama.
posted by patricio at 6:03 AM on October 30, 2006


Points off for not calling the movie The Persecution and Assassination of George Walker Bush as Performed by the Inmates of Narconon Florida Under the Direction of Representative Mark Foley.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:19 AM on October 30, 2006


It's pretty easily obtainable on filesharing networks, since it aired on British TV already.

I thought it was very professionally done, but I didn't enjoy it that much. The way they used the real President didn't add to the reality, rather, it hurt it. When they would use real clips, like Cheney speaking at the funeral, I would be thrown out of the story, trying to figure out how they did it.
posted by smackfu at 6:20 AM on October 30, 2006


bah
posted by matteo at 6:21 AM on October 30, 2006


Hey everybody! Wave and say "hi" to the nice Secret Service and Effa-Bee-Eyes that are no doubt poring over this thread.
posted by exlotuseater at 6:24 AM on October 30, 2006


A fictitious documentary about the death of a president, huh? Those guys in Miami should have patented the genre (they invented it with Castro) and they could be cashing in from this.
posted by micayetoca at 6:33 AM on October 30, 2006


why not buy it and see it at home and then

For some odd reason, they're releasing it theatrically in the US first.
posted by smackfu at 6:43 AM on October 30, 2006


jack_mo: WTF with the spoiler? That's incredibly rude.
posted by Malor at 6:44 AM on October 30, 2006


I found Death of a President pointless. Best movies out now: Shortbus and The Queen.
posted by muckster at 6:51 AM on October 30, 2006


Because of jack_mo's comment, I have now added the spoiler tag. :-7
posted by Deathalicious at 7:39 AM on October 30, 2006


GEORGE W BUSH DIES
posted by atrazine at 8:02 AM on October 30, 2006


Do they, somewhere in the remainder of the film, point out that the idea of a presidential assasination being carried out by 'militant anti-war activists' is at odds with reality?

Do you really doubt that such a thing is possible in our current climate? I question your assumption that all anti-war activists are pacifists.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:02 AM on October 30, 2006


you want boring, try oliver stone's world trade center. sheeit.
posted by phaedon at 8:29 AM on October 30, 2006


J. Hoberman has it right:

There's a far more subversive political mock-umentary coming next week. I invite President Bush, Senator Clinton, and all politicians to get down with Borat.
posted by muckster at 9:10 AM on October 30, 2006


I wasn't so much commenting on the quality of the investigation, as on the quality of the narrative itself

Oh, I see - yep, you're right, the second half is weaker.

jack_mo: WTF with the spoiler? That's incredibly rude.

Metapologies.
posted by jack_mo at 9:48 AM on October 30, 2006


Do they, somewhere in the remainder of the film, point out that the idea of a presidential assasination being carried out by 'militant anti-war activists' is at odds with reality?

They must not have got your memo of obligatory non-right-wing propaganda talking points before production. (and I say this having already said that the show felt like a RNC commecial for Bush).

Are you aware that a faux documentary about the assassination of Bush is in its presently entirety at odds with reality? I'm just checking because you seem lost.
posted by srboisvert at 9:51 AM on October 30, 2006


the police superintendent is blaming the assassination on "militant" anti-war groups. Because, you know, those pacifists... always putting holes in people.

Err, in case no one else has made this point: anti-war does not equal pacifist. There are many reasons why people object to conflicts, such as concerns for national stability, our reputation on the world stage and financial loss.

I'm not saying that not wanting people to get killed doesn't factor in to most people's anti-war sentiment, but it certainly is conceivable for there to be 'anti-war militants'.
posted by quin at 10:21 AM on October 30, 2006


the idea of a presidential assasination being carried out by 'militant anti-war activists' is at odds with reality?

Not if one of them got the "needs of many outweigh the needs of the few" idea running through their head.

That said, even though I highly dislike our current President and don't care for his policies at all, I find the idea of making a movie about his fictional assassination a bit... creepy.
posted by mrbill at 10:33 AM on October 30, 2006


But I can't imagine wanting to watch a fictional enactment of any of them being murdered.

Nonsense. You do to. They are called "movies." And we watch fictional enactments of actors being killed in movies every day.

I just watched Darryl Hannah get shot in Blade Runner. It was AWESOME.
posted by tkchrist at 11:14 AM on October 30, 2006


I watched it. It wasn't bad. It's a decent technical achievement, and interesting idea, and an ok film. Boring? Not really. Did people expect it to be MI:3 or something?
posted by jmcnally at 2:19 PM on October 30, 2006


We'll be showing it, starting on Wednesday, and Bush will be in town on Friday!!! So if you don't hear from me after that...
posted by bjork24 at 9:07 PM on October 30, 2006


The biggest problem with it is that the FBI forensics bloke looks like Dwight Schrute from the US version of The Office. Otherwise, it's interesting. As a TV piece. The last segment is dramatically weaker, perhaps, but fits the documentary genre.

But then again, I'm from a country where people aren't worried that loudly thinking about the assassination of its head of government might lead to a knock at the door. That in itself is a fascinating taboo.
posted by holgate at 2:23 AM on October 31, 2006


It seems it thoroughly tanked at the box office over the weekend. It showed at 143 theaters and took in a measly $1970 per screen, for a total of $281,778.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 6:08 PM on October 31, 2006


the depressed and grief-stricken Gulf War veteran assasin twist felt like a cop out, albeit a believable one

Huh? I actually sort of expect that will happen. Either a US soldier or, less likely, an Iraqi. They're the ones who've been personally fucked over. The rest of us have to read the paper to know when to be outraged. That's not to say I wouldn't piss on his corpse—but I wouldn't kill him.
posted by ryanrs at 4:43 AM on November 1, 2006


« Older TIBET the underground artist   |   Another Boar-ing NewsFilter Post Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post