Friday, June 23, 2017

Get Me Roger Stone review

Hollywood liberals are probably not going to vote Get Me Roger Stone for Best Documentary , the Netflix film on the conservative master of the dark arts of political dirty tricks, Roger Stone. They should. This film comes at a time when we have the most incompetent, dishonest, selfish, greedy man to occupy the White House in Donald Trump. And it was Stone who encouraged Trump to get into politics and advised him in the 2016 campaign.

Directors Dylan Bank, Daniel DiMauro and Morgan Pehme had a large amount of access to Roger Stone. Hours of interviews with him, footage of intimate details that even includes a beauty shot of the tattoo of Richard Nixon on his back. This gives us a detailed portrait of Satan. I kid. That's too simple. It's the portrait of Satan if he were a smiling, affable, handsome and well manicured man. Maybe, Satan comes to us that way.

This film traces Stone from a child doing his first political dirty tricks to his Watergate years, and to his triumph of riding Trump to victory in 2016 presidential election. What's telling is that first dirty trick. In a mock trial of the 1960 election at grade school, he spreads the lie that Nixon would have kids go to school on Saturdays. The result? Kennedy won. He learned that lies are a powerful weapon in politics. Something that Trump uses to this day.

He might have supported Kennedy as kid but somewhere he become enamored with conservatism starting with Barry Goldwater. Stone doesn't really get into much of the philosophy of conservative politics. In fact he claims in this day he's more of a libertarian, supporting gay rights. And this is where one might believe him. You see in the mid-1990's he get caught up in sex scandal and the Republican party kinda avoided him. That is until he's needed.

But what drives Stone is his Machiavellian philosophy in regards to politics. It's win at all costs. Damn morality. The ends do justify the means. Two examples come to mind. In the movie, he supports Trump in 2000 for the Reform Party nomination against conservative Patrick Buchanan. Part of the reason is that Stone does like Trump. But the movie points out, the other reason was to split and destroy the Reform Party so that it would not be a factor in taking votes from conservative Republican George W. Bush. The plan worked. Then in the 2004 Democratic primary, Stone was helping African American Al Sharpton who is very liberal. Did Stone change his politics? No. The movie hints it was more at disrupting the Democrats.

Stone's scorch the earth and Machiavellian strategies may get him in trouble. That makes this movie more relevant as time goes by. You see, Stone has come under the scrutiny of the government in the Trump Campaign's collusion with the Russians. Stone is prominently mentioned especially when it comes to his ability to predict negative Wikileaks data dumps during the 2016 campaign. A side note. The film also features commentary from two of Trump's men. Michael Caputo and Paul Manafort. Making this film interesting if they get prosecuted for Trump-Russia collusion.

Yet, Stone commands the film better than I have seen an actor or subject of a documentary in a long, long time. As evil as he is, it's hard not to like him. Take for example his Nixon tattoo. he says it reminds him of Nixon's resilience. Nixon got knocked down but he got up. True and not a bad idea. In the film, Stone is an arrogant, confident and also friendly rascal. He's got a nice and infectious smile. Even when he insults the filmmakers as a bunch of liberals, he does with a wink and in good nature. He may hate their politics but he knows they are also telling his story, hence he shows an affection for them. And there is no question, he loves his wife and children.

Get Me Roger Stone is also beautifully filmed. It's not just a portrait of Stone. But a view of his world whether it's impressive collection of Nixon memorabilia, the sunny landscapes of Florida or the domineering presence of Trump Tower. The film also follows Stone as he riles up the crowd by demagogically deriding Hillary Clinton. It's history.

I recommend seeing this film whether you are a liberal or conservative. Give this devil his due. Certainly, as a liberal, you can learn how your opponent operates. But as a documentary, Get Me Roger Stone is one fascinating portrait of a master of dark politics. The grade is A.

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