About “W: the movie”
“W: the Movie” is a surreal satire on the presidency of George W Bush, beginning with the 2000 elections and ending with the 2008 campaign.
At the dawn of the 21st century, strange things begin to happen when a meteor crashes in the Arizona desert. A Texas Oil Man discovers the meteor and inside it, his long lost son, W. With his daddy’s help, W steals the presidential election, becoming the 43rd President of the United States and a world of chaos begins! After 911, W brings War and, with it, suppression of all free thought. Among those standing up to the new regime are the staff of Issues and Alibis, including our superhero, the intrepid reporter BlueMahler.
Issues and Alibis, and likewise, all creative thinkers, are a threat to W and the White House becomes the House of Oppression. W’s hold on power begins to spiral out of control after the people finally wake up following the disaster of a devastating hurricane and the failure of War. But change is on the horizon in the form of the Yes candidate, Barak Hussein Osama. Or will W’s handpicked successor, Johnny McPain, continue the legacy of No? Have we realized too little too late and are we prepared for the next time a meteor crashes in the Arizona desert?
“W: The movie” is an Alfred Eaker motion picture. Written and produced by Alfred Eaker Directed by Alfred Eaker and Ross St. Just A Pink and Blue Films production in association with Liberty or Death Productions and Asylum House Productions.
“W: The movie”: Awards
“W: The movie” won the “Best Experimental Feature” award at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival.
“W: The Movie”: This is one seriously messed up flick and, again, I mean that in the best possible way…
(A review by Richard Propes for The Independent Critic. Originally published at: https://theindependentcritic.com/wthemovie)
I mean this next statement in the best possible way…You will NOT see “W: The Movie” in a multiplex any time soon. Usually, when I make such a statement it’s more a testimony to the film’s obvious low-budget production quality.
That’s not the issue here with “W: The Movie.”
The issue with “W: The Movie” is quite simple…this is one seriously messed up flick and, again, I mean that in the best possible way.
“W: The Movie” is NOT, by an stretch of the imagination, the film by Oliver Stone. Compared to this flick, Stone’s film is a kid glove approach to a certain former president not so affectionately known as “W.”
“W: The Movie,” on the other hand, is an apocalyptic, psychotic, pop skull of a flick about the nightmarish world that we birthed during the eight year reign of George W. Bush and his army of clones.
I wish I could describe “W: The Movie” for you.
I simply can’t.
What I can say is that “W: The Movie” is an awesome, frightening, enlightening, insightful, colorful, trippy, entertaining, educational and experimental film that will challenge you in ways you’ve never been challenged while watching a film.
“W: The Movie” centers on a delightful character called Blue Mahler (Alfred Eaker), a man who is obsessed with exposing the evil tyranny of “W” while, perhaps, edging towards tyranny himself as his world and his family fall apart.
Is it possible to confront evil without becoming evil?
Interspersed throughout the film are a variety of characters who play out in ways dramatic and eerie, haunting and humorous. There’s Jezebel (PinkFreud), Samson (Ross St. Just), a Red Neck Tooth Fairy (Justin Barnes), a Stigmatic Frog Grave Digger (Wendy Collin Sorin), Saddam Hussein (Gary Pierce), Uncle Sama Ben Llama (Brother Brown), the Dirty Pope (Richard Pope) and even the Planet Pluto (Michael Basinski).
These characters are tied together by stories and songs, vignettes and mini-music videos. These characters are tied together by monologues that vacillate between dramatic readings and stand-up routines.
These characters? Oh my. These characters.
The weirdest thing of all, though, is that writer/director/producer/star Alfred Eaker makes it all work in ways that are wild and wonderful, weird and whacked out. “W: The Movie” is as much performance art, not surprising given Eaker’s background in the art form, and experimental cinema. Despite, or perhaps because of, having an obviously modest production budget, Eaker has flung his production design far out into the cinematic universe with make-up and costuming, set design and cinematography that paint broad and colorful strokes of cinematic and political imagery. “W: The Movie” is destined to be the kind of film that is interpreted, re-interpreted and over-analyzed with Eaker’s abundance of psychedelic goings on.
Never have I felt the desire to call such a strange and mind-altering film a thing of true beauty, but “W: The Movie” is truly a beautiful film that will envelope your senses, stimulate your mind and question your beliefs.
“W: The Movie” had its official premiere at the New York International Film Festival on March 20, 2009 at 10pm.
“W: The Movie”: A Gonzo Bizarre Satire of George W. Bush.
(A review by Frédérik Sisa, August 28, 2009, A&E, Film)
Lampooning the George W. Bush presidency can feel a lot like taking shots at the broadside of a barn. The former President’s inarticulate expression and body language struck some as folksy and others as just plain goofy – few politicians were so ready-made for cartooning. And that, of course, is even before controversial policies that left the body politic divided against itself, a situation ripe for sharp-tongued, poison-pen satire.
“W The Movie,” then, is surreal vaudeville of face-painted characters that plays like a greatest hits compilation from the Bush years: the dubious 2000 election, the war in Iraq, the bungled (some would say cynical) response to Hurricane Katrina, and autocratic tendencies. This is not the film to turn to for dissection or introspection, or even subversion, given its post-Bush release. Relying on the audience to be suitably informed and outraged about former President Bush, “W The Movie” is an old-fashioned rant aimed to round up the sympathetic to simultaneously wind them up and talk them down from the ledge. Familiarity, however, eventually breeds tediousness. Whether it’s worth dragging in the wheezy notion of catharsis depends entirely on the extent to which the survival guilt embodied in the Obama Presidency is activist in nature or persuaded by calls to “look to the future.”
Entertaining for Both Sides?
So if doesn’t do more than spit venom, content with pushing the right buttons but stopping short of directing residual anger towards anything, “W The Movie” can’t be accused of being timid. This is no boxer that aims to fix the fight by going down for the sake of keeping blood off the mat. It’s a quirky piece of political theatre that aims to entertain while servicing the choir. From co/writer-director Alfred Eaker himself to a cast that includes the intriguingly monikored Pink Freud, the film is populated by outré, no-holds-barred personas including the apocalyptic Mr. Bush, who emerges from an alien spaceship that crashes into the Arizona desert, and indie journalist BlueMahler, whose struggles against Bush (in what could be a philosophical capitulation) venture beyond the grave.
Forget dream logic and acid trip analogies: this is gonzo bizarre cinema that employs visual effects from fifteen years ago with great gusto and artistic exuberance and molds it all into surprising coherence of vision. Surrealism, it seems, isn’t dead after all, even if it dips a little too often into the gimmickry that even Grandmaster Bunuel was prone to rather than the trance-like ambiguity of a David Lynch film or Jim Jarmush’s Dead Man. But Eaker and crew make the whole affair funny and sharp; a mostly hypnotic experience that must be taken for what it is in whole or set aside altogether.
‘W The Movie.’ Written by Alfred Eaker, Wendy Collin Sorin, and Ross St. Just. Directed by Alfred Eaker and Ross St. Just. Starring Alfred Eaker, Pink Freud, Ross St. Just, John M. Bennet, Justin Barnes and Lauren Paige. 95 minutes. www.wthemovie.com
Frédérik invites you to discuss “W The Movie” at his blog.
“W: The movie”: Not afraid to hit Bush hard in a crass way and rip him as an evil moron...
(A review by Dennis Schwartz, originally published at: https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/wthemovie/)
Alfred Eaker (“Jesus and Her Gospel of Yes”) is writer, star, producer and co-director with Ross St. Just of the shoestring budget fantasy indie, W the Movie, that follows on the heels of Oliver Stone’s more sober-minded and gentler mainstream biopic on the George W. Bush presidency. Mr. Eaker is a surrealist painter. His psychedelic-like art set designs (digitally animated, with most of the film shot in front of a green-screen) and the characters zany performance art are the main driving force for its uniqueness.
It’s made for those who never tire of Bush-bashing, even if it’s seen after his presidency when he’s disappeared from the public eye and hatred for him has been tempered only by the immediate and pressing economic crisis taking front stage and with no impetus by the new administration to bring him up on war crime charges. For those who are apolitical or Republicans, this film comes with an unapologetic liberal agenda that might appear like a bewildering experience if you never really got how bad a president was W. Even though the satire often flags, or the story line turns heavy-handed, or it goes on for too long on the same one-note, or meanders into an awkward biblical story about a modern-day Samson needing a testosterone cream that doesn’t seem to fit into the Bush tale, it still has staying power if you’re in the market for a film that’s not afraid to hit Bush hard in a crass way and rip him as an evil moron who fooled most of the people and did great damage to the country. It’s this relentless attack on Bush that got my attention, as the entertaining physical comedy film in a silly way throws off any kid gloves to dissect Bush’s ill-conceived power trip surprisingly as well or even better than many of the more serious higher budgeted and high-minded films.
When a meteor crashes in the Arizona desert, a wacky Texas oil tycoon discovers both the meteor and his long lost son, W. Daddy then backs sonny boy, who has arrived from another planet, to run for president, and W.’s further aided by his brother Jeb Head fixing the ballot box in Florida so he can win the national election. It has W. after the 9/11 attack by Ben Llama using the false argument of Saddam Hussein having Weapons of Mass Destruction to attack Iraq in a pre-emptive war. From thereon his presidency goes into the dumper, as the so-called “uniter” divides the country as he rails against intellectuals, liberals, thinkers and critics. When W.’s nemesis Blue Mahler prints his anti-Bush political attacks in the ‘Issues and Alibis’ magazine, the President feels threatened and his presidency spins out of control in its failure to get anything right it touches upon such as the War on Terrorism, the Iraqi War and Hurricane Katrina. Mahler appears in a face painted half blue and half red to indicate the country is divided between liberal and conservative states, while an always screaming and nasty W. has the colors of the American flag painted on his face.
The performers are all non-professionals and seemed to have fun putting on this loud rant, though the acting of most of the supporting cast leaves a lot to be desired. The comedy was sophomoric, best suited for the college frat crowd, but making up for its lack of maturity and stale material with lots of energy. It’s a film preaching to the choir, as I doubt if it can influence or even interest the undecided fence-sitters.
“W: The movie”: Capsule (2008)
(A review by Gregory J. Smalley. Originally published at “366 Weird movies, Capsule”)
Because it is a vehemently partisan mockery of a former President, as opposed to a generic political satire, W the Movie is difficult to review. Your reaction may depend on your politics; the far left might applaud it as a hilarious send-up of a dangerous political hack, those on the right may be outraged (and personally insulted), or simply dismiss it as liberal piffle. Moderates and fence-sitters are unlikely to be swayed. All sides will recognize it as deliberately unfair; Bush’s foibles are exaggerated past the point of absurdity. W is cruel, crude and stupid, and at his most decisive when he demands his pancakes with “lots of syrup”; his foil, BlueMahler, is brave and righteous, and his only character flaw is neglecting his wife and son as he devotes his life to exposing the truth about the alien demagogue and his infernal war. W the Movie makes the work of Michael Moore (who himself makes as appearance as a ghostlike, babbling puppet) look fair and balanced. There’s a place in the film world for narrowly political art and clever character assassination, and in this sense the producers are to be commended for not fearing to enter the fray, take sides, and name names.
But, polarizing political content aside, there’s quite a bit to be admired in the low-budget production. It’s an excellent example of how a unique, almost mesmerizing visual style can be forged through CGI on the cheap, when artistic effect and atmosphere is placed above the fetish for strict realism. About 90% of the film was shot in front of a green-screen, and memorable virtual sets include W riding on a missile against a cloudscape (a la Dr. Strangelove), W worshipping at an altar of giant gold coins, and an amusing black and white parody sequence with W in Ford’s Theater. The effect is a bit like the old studio-bound pictures of the 30s and 40s, where the backgrounds were matte paintings, but modern technology combined with a hallucinogenic vision makes these brightly colored living mattes slip, morph and shift before the viewer’s eye. Therefore, the film is constantly interesting to the eye, even when the plot gets difficult to follow. Furthermore, Eaker does quite well in multiple roles, including both W and his nemesis BlueMahler. Actors cast in smaller roles range from adequate to distracting. The humor is also uneven, ranging from the highly effective (the Ford’s Theater scene) to the painfully embarrassing (the 9/11 tragedy is used as an excuse for cheap jokes about W’s pro-life stance and lack of geographical acumen). More genuine funny and fewer pointed potshots would have made it a happier movie experience. All in all, W‘s well worth checking out, but if you’re to the right of Obama politically, you may want to check your party of No pin at the door.
“W: The movie”: A delightfully black piece
(A review by Mike Lorefice, orgininally published at: http://www.rbmoviereviews.com/movies/wthemovie.html)
“This is a delightfully black piece, which fits given the times we’re in. Just remember to keep your tongues firmly in cheek because if we’re gonna tackle death, we might as well have a sense of humor about it” – BlueMahler
My favorite movies tend to fall into two categories, ones that aim to replicate the real world as accurately as possible and those that offer a unique viewing experience by creating their own distinctive world. Alfred Eaker has accomplished the later so well that, while I can report it’s the most stylishly individual film I’ve seen this year, I’m almost at a loss to explain it’s visual treats any further. The scenes don’t take place in traditional indoor or outdoor settings, but rather in artistic constructs with each sequence in this vibrant film having a distinctive color scheme. Superimposition and layering effects, mixing live action with paintings and animations are just a few of the tricks Eaker & Ross St. Just have up their sleeves.
“W: the Movie” is a perfect example of low tech effects being superior to solely CGI. Though the process is similar in that both put the actors at the mercy of the green screen, and, in this case, the low tech effects also aren’t believable, at least the handmade artwork and more humble animation keeps some semblance of genuine human creativity on display in almost every scene rather than the typical lifeless manufactured banality. Instead of looking like another sterile product – another Xbox game minus the interactivity – the effects in W give the film personality and life.
An art school painter specializing in abstracts, Alfred Eaker has predominantly worked in the more classical field of art. Obviously a good artist, as you can see from the numerious paintings, he’s found a way to meld his own work and that of his friends into the realm of cinema. Even though the art is usually high caliber, it’s not the quality of the art in W the Movie that makes the film special. Eaker & St. Just actually show that as long as you are consistent about keeping your audience immersed in an anything goes dream world that evokes more than it represents, you can be at least as effective with a cardboard cutout of a cow as you would be with the real thing.
Whatever you think of the effects in and of themselves, it’s definitely the way they are incorporated into the live action that makes W a standout. Most mass produced movies have generic plots and effects, so they are really only differentiated by the generic actors, who tend to be obnoxious posers. W the Movie has very little plot and while it might not have great acting, as when it’s actually serious the actors simply convey the message in the most blunt, no punches pulled, spin free manner, if nothing else it’s smart enough to keep these aspects secondary to the art. The film really lies in the effects, backgrounds, and score. Though mostly utilized for the backdrops, the artwork combined with the classical symphony score set the tone and convey the mood.
Alfred Eaker’s surreal political satire isn’t intended to be the most coherent and consistent film out there, rather his nightmarish evocation of George W. Bush’s two destructive terms comes at you from all angles and directions. The film attempts to branch out and deal with some of the not so obvious side effects of Bush’s calculated and miscalculated deception, for instance turning America “culture” into a larger than life pro wrestling style circus side show, but, while the unpredictability is welcome, these diatribes aren’t fleshed out enough to be much more than humorous distractions. For the most part, Eaker finds comically absurd ways to incorporate the real life sins of the Bush regime into a hallucination. For instance, the stolen 2000 election has W putting the votes for the Party of Yes candidate in the microwave and eating them as ballot pie. Meanwhile, the delayed reaction to 911 is due to it taking W so long to realize NY is part of his territory (when he finds out this “country” isn’t at war, he suggests merely sending them a dozen roses!).
I don’t totally agree with Eaker’s politics, most importantly rather than painting one party as good and one as evil, it’s time to realize that nothing will ever change until one of the parties is willing to put the public interest over that of their corporate sponsors, which, for the most part, happen to be the same companies from the same industries. However, Eaker is, at least, one of the few that’s had the guts to put his strong, one-sided view on the screen. Thus, while it’s rather leftist didactic politically, at worst one can accuse him of trying to be honest by doing things such as recasting Fox News as GOP TV. I mean, even though they may enjoy it because it appeals to the beliefs of the most devout right wingers, I haven’t come across many that actually believed Fox News wasn’t a Republican support system.
While “W: the Movie” makes the a ridiculous parody American politics have turned into abundantly clear, as with his provocative aesthetics, Alfred Eaker’s surreal collage of political irreverence cannot be briefly summed up. Despite being able to guess the points that will be covered such as stealing the election, being asleep at the wheel for 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, attacking the wrong country, and controlling the world through fear, censorship, and torture, the fun is how Eaker keeps finding ways to send up the forseeable without allowing the film to become another predictable biopic. There is consistency, but it lies in the films chaos, absurdity, and tragedy.
George W. Bush is portrayed as a rapid juvenile fundamentalist who rules with the same manic, dogmatic, dictatorial fervor as the Pentecostal preachers Eaker grew up with in the midwestern backwoods. His opponent, BlueMahler, a journalist who basically just states his version of the truth as if reading from his column, driving even his no attention span son Samson (Ross St. Just) crazy, is somewhat ignored by those not forced to listen to him for his lack of over the top inspirational technique, but mostly just drowned out the way a fan of the opposition is at a Michigan football game.
BlueMahler is a sort of pathos filled, occasionally pretentious liberal humanist combination of Charles Chaplin, Gustav Mahler, and Superman as portrayed by the more ordinary, aging, and vice plagued George Reeves. Though Eaker evokes Ingmar Bergman in a scene were BlueMahler plays chess with death’s standin, W, one of the most interesting themes of the film is Mahler is a deeply flawed protagonist. This is especially important because W is an obvious cartoon caricature, so the film, which utilizes a much more artistic and adult version of the sort of 50’s style comic book fantasies Ralphy has in A Christmas Story, could easily devolve into something that’s incredibly black and white, or rather red and blue.
Despite Mahler’s earnest attempts to enlighten the world to the dangers of W, beyond the obvious that he generally ignores his family and is too fond of legal drugs, he’s often closer to an alter ego to W than his opposite, arch nemesis, and eventually seems to become his conscience. The similarities of the two are made more clear by the fact that Alfred Eaker plays both parts with their faces painted in America’s patriotic blue and red, which represents both the flag and the colors of the political parties. Their designs may be different, but Mahler’s face is only half blue, and underneath… And I think that sums up the political scene in America very well, even though the obvious hatred for the Republicans will keep most people from seeing it as anything but a polemic.
Like most good surrealism throughout the ages and arts, Eaker’s apocalyptic symphony of W.’s presidency is incredibly, mockingly offensive to the powers that be. Any movie that depicts the President sucking his thumb in between laughing like a hyena as he stammers through “W, and money, money, money” isn’t exactly aiming to focus on the common ground, but that’s as it should be in surrealist political satire. Scenes such as W dreaming of forcing citizens to bow down to a giant gold $ sign are pretty classic, in my book. The vote for W televangelist particularly cracks me up with lines such as “I believe gay marriage should be between a man and a woman” and “The only way to reduce the number of nuclear weapons is to use them, Hallelujah!”
W the Movie won’t go down as the defining film on the Bush era from the bland, cite your sources historical perspective, but it perfectly captures the feeling of just being stuck watching the country go to hell in a handbasket. You can’t give up the fight, and yet sometimes you can talk until you are, as the old cliche says, Blue in the face, and still be left with nothing more productive to do than burying the dead.