Former liberal-turned-arch-conservative screenwriter Mark Tapson (The Path to 9/11) has reviewed John and Jez Butterworth‘s screenplay of Fair Fame, the Doug Liman-drected political thriller costaring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts.
Naomi Watts as Valerie Plame and Sean Penn as Joseph Wilson in Doug Liman’s Fair Game.
He puts it down, of course, for being too anti-Bush administration. Tapson’s view isn’t surprising given the right-wing enzymes in his system, and I’m certainly not excerpting his critique as something to seriously wade into. But it does offer an idea about how the right-wing media and blogosphere may come after Fair Game when it opens next fall, or perhaps even as soon as next month, if and when it screens at the Cannes Film Festival.
You almost have to admire Tapson’s determination to find ways to diss a script that adopts and advances the Joseph Wilson-Valerie Plame perspective on the ignoble outing incident, and which presents Karl Rove and Scooter Libby (being played by David Andrews) as the bad guys.
Tapson’s key retort is that Bush-Cheney-Rove-Libby were not responsible for Plame’s outing, explaining that the culprit is/was State Department official Richard Armitage — “a Bush critic, not an evil neocon, who leaked Plame’s name, and who hid his involvement for many months while Rove and others unfairly bore the brunt of the investigation and of the public excoriation.”
The Fair Game screenplay “is a full-out assault on Bush’s ‘war of choice’ and on what Roger Ebert, whose career has degenerated into making petty insults toward decent Americans, calls ‘neocon evildoing,'” Tapson writes.
“Must I issue a spoiler alert for this one? Would it really come as a surprise to hear that the script paints the entire Bush administration as power-mad schemers, and the Wilsons as courageous patriots putting themselves on the line to save the lives of American soldiers and defend our Constitutional rights?
“That it asserts that Bush’s abuses, not Saddam Hussein’s central role in international terrorism, constituted the real threat to this country?
“That a whole slew of critical CIA operations was abandoned, thanks to the vengeful outing of Valerie Plame, leaving many agents exposed in the field?
“And that as a result, Iraqi nuclear scientists (‘the real WMDs,’ as Watts/Plame says) defected to a welcoming Iran instead? If so, then I have some property in Death Valley I’d like to sell you.
“President Bush and other top level White House figures appear in the movie only in actual news footage, selectively chosen to suggest that they are conspiring in a ‘coordinated’ coverup. But lesser players Rove and Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, Cheney’s chief of staff, are more central to the script, which shows Libby intimidating CIA analysts so intensely that they burst into sweat and waves of nausea.
“He and Rove are also shown engaging in backroom manipulations to ‘bury’ Plame and Wilson (the title itself comes from a quote which Hardball host Chris Matthews attributed to Rove, about Valerie being ‘fair game’ – a phrase Rove says came from Matthews).
“But the truth is, it was State Department official Richard Armitage who leaked Plame’s name. In other words, as David Horowitz writes in Party of Defeat, ‘The entire affair was concocted out of whole cloth by opponents of the war.’
“And yet Armitage’s name never appears in the script. And how could it? That would defuse the filmmakers’ intent to demonize Rove and Bush and to condemn the war as shameful, unjust American aggression.”