Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—The Undefeated (2011) *

PG-13, 117 min.
Director: Stephen K. Bannon
Writers: Stephen K. Bannon, Sarah Palin (excerpts from the book “Going Rogue: An American Life”)
Starring: Sarah Palin, Andrew Breitbart, Kurt Gibson, Rick Halford, Mark Levin, Kate Obenshain, Mary Rutherford, Gene Therriault

OK, so here’s the thing. I don’t want to talk about politics, or Democrats and Republicans, or any of all that. The thought of Sarah Palin as president has scared me. I was also as impressed by her speech at the GOP’s Convention as everyone was when she was announced as McCain’s running mate. Hell, maybe she would be a good financial guide for our country. I don’t know.

Here’s what I do know. This film is a piece of crap. Even as the propaganda it was obviously meant to be, it is incompetent filmmaking at its worst. I’m not sure if Stephen K. Bannon has ever even seen a documentary. He’s certainly seen a lot of commercials, and apparently he believes that a documentary is simply a really long commercial, a really, really, really long commercial. Although it’s obvious he spends a great deal of time watching commercials, I’m not so sure he ever had anyone teach him how to make one. I’m pretty sure he’s self-taught.

The benefit of only having thirty seconds to sell your product is that you really don’t have to get that much footage to edit together. When you’re directing a 2-hour movie on the other hand, it’s better to err on the side of excess. That way you don’t end up with only about an hour and twenty minutes worth of footage for two hours worth of narration (which was actually written for a book). Then you won’t have to keep repeating the same footage over and over until you finally get to the end of the words.

Here’s another piece of advice for aspiring filmmakers. When you are interviewing someone, and the words that are coming out of his or her mouth is important enough for you to feel they should be included in the final cut, try not to move the camera around as if you’ve just seen an invisible pig fly by. The talking heads in this film are flying all over the screen. I thought it was a new way to film a tennis match from the ball’s perspective. “That guy watching me just flew to one side. Oh, there he goes off to the other side. Damn! The guy with the racket must’ve hit me into the stands because now the spectator is flying right at me!”

What the hell was this guy thinking? Is that type of camera manipulation supposed to be exciting? And, if you’re trying to come off as a credible and unbiased filmmaker, despite what your biases actually are in making your movie, you’ve got to at least try to squeeze a little bit of the opposing perspective into your film. You don’t have to agree with it. You can even make fun of it. Many great documentary filmmakers do. But, you still must include it, just a little bit. There is not even the slightest iota of a negative thought about Sarah Palin in this film. Yes, Brannon includes some of the entertainment and media jibes that have been thrown at Palin since her failed VP bid, but they are included to comment on the media, not on Palin.

Anyway, Let me just warn you. If you hate Palin, if you love Palin, don’t do this to yourself. 

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