Five and a half weeks ago I caught a Toronto Film Festival screening of David Gordon Green‘s Our Brand Is Crisis, a Sandra Bullock-goes-to-Bolivia political dramedy, and pretty much panned it. It’ll open on 5.30 in the face of critical disdain — 40% Rotten Tomatoes, 60% Metacritic. Here are excerpts from my 9.12 review:
Excerpt #1: “David Gordon Green‘s Our Brand Is Crisis (Warner Bros., 10.30) transforms Rachel Boynton’s same-titled, decade-old documentary into a Sandra Bullock film in much the same way that the once-austere Gravity became a spacesuit-Sandy-in-peril movie for her fans.
Excerpt #2: “Imagine Michael Ritchie‘s The Candidate with Robert Redford still playing Bill McKay but instead of Peter Boyle as his campaign manager you’ve got the spirited and irrepressible but at the same struggling-with-depression Barbra Streisand (half the way she was in What’s Up, Doc?, and half Kuh-Kuh-Katey in The Way We Were), and that’s pretty much what Our Brand Is Crisis is, except it’s set in Bolivia and Redford is played by Joaquim de Almeida.
Excerpt #3: “Over and over and over Bullock gets her closeups in this thing, and she looks so reliably and relentlessly herself in every shot and scene. She’s playing a brilliant political consultant in a sometimes surly, sometimes pratfally way, but Our Brand is Crisis is mainly about the fact that (a) she looks burnt-out sullen and kind of Lauren Bacall-y with her one-size-fits-all deadpan glamour-puss expression, nicely dyed blonde hair and distinctive black-rimmed glasses, and (b) she has a great-looking ass for a woman of any age, let alone her own.
Excerpt #4: “Before people start calling me a sexist pig, understand that at the climax of a completely absurd mountain-road race between two political campaign tour buses, Bullock drops trou and shoves her creamy biege, perfectly-shaved butt cheeks out of a side window, ‘aimed’ at her political opponents who are riding alongside. (It’s called “mooning.”) I would have respected this scene more if Bullock’s ass (or that of the ass model who was hired for this one bit) didn’t look so CG-scrubbed. It looks like a love-doll ass. (And don’t blame me — I’m just describing what I saw.)
Excerpt #5: “Billy Bob Thornton has the best role and the best lines as a rival political consultant working for another Bolivian presidential candidate. BBT is basically playing James Carville, the famous, real-life political consultant who helped elect Bill Clinton in ’92. Thornton, you’ll recall, more or less portrayed in Mike Nichols‘ Primary Colors. Remember also that Boynton’s doc focused on the experience of Greenberg Carville Shrum (GCS) in the 2002 Bolivian presidential election and there you have it.
Excerpt #6: “Boynton’s doc was about Greenberg Carville Shrum being hired to help the presidential campaign of Gonzalo ‘Goni’ Sanchez de Lozada of the MNR Party. He was a cigar-smoking rich guy with his hand out, but he was at least smart enough to use the (very expensive) services of CCS. Goni paid the fee and the gang flew down to Bolivia (among them Carville, Tad Devine and Jeremy Rosner) to do what they could. Brainstorming sessions, focus groups, carefully staged TV appearances and whatnot. Some guy on an Amazon response forum called it The War Room, Part II: The Bolivian Years. Goni was elected, but then the country’s economy worsened and the people took to the streets and he was finally forced to resign.”