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  W Oliver Stone's Movie about George Bush Movie Review
  (3 Stars)

      Movie Review by Michael Phillips

 

W Oliver Stone's Movie about George Bush

W Oliver Stone's Movie about George Bush George W. Bush (Josh Brolin, right) with Dick Cheney (Richard Dreyfuss, background left) in W. Photo credit: Sidney Ray Baldwin in W. Directed by Oliver Stones Photo Credit: Sidney Ray Baldwin
George W. Bush (Josh Brolin, right) with Dick Cheney (Richard Dreyfuss, background left) in W. Directed by Oliver Stone.

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Unlike its subject, "W." can't win.

At this point in the current administration, I doubt even Oliver Stone wants to see an Oliver Stone film about the life and exceptional good luck enjoyed (and squandered, if you agree with the filmmaker and his screenwriter, Stanley Weiser) by George W. Bush, depicted here as an epoch-shaping stumblebum who kept failing upward, and whose self-esteem and family issues made him who he is today.

Who is he, really? Stone, more of a "heat" guy than a "light" guy, is not the filmmaker to bore into that question.

Even so, in interviews Stone has dusted off the adjective "Shakespearean" to describe his fictionalized approach to Bush and to all his recent history projects, ranging from the frantic all-star paranoia parade "JFK" (in which Stone and his screenwriters amalgamated every grassy knoll theory on the planet) and "Nixon," starring Anthony Hopkins as a collection of surface character traits that never quite added up to a character.

The Shakespearean element in "W.," I suppose, is the notion that the wastrel son of George Herbert Walker Bush started out his life much like the future Prince Hal of "Henry IV," and the world -- Yale, Texas, the National Guard, the drinking, the business mishaps, the political rise -- was W's Falstaff, a genially corrupting influence.

Then he became born-again. Then he became president, and he responded to 9/11 by waging a pre-emptive war based on shaky intelligence, and now ... well, the end of the story, like the close of Bush's second term and the decision regarding his successor, hasn't been written.

Yet here's "W.," the story of an ingratiating "devil in a white hat," as librarian Laura Welch (Elizabeth Banks) calls him just minutes after being introduced to her future husband, played by a wily and exacting Josh Brolin. And here's the paradox: The film may be ill-timed, arguably unnecessary and no more psychologically probing than any other Stone movie. But much of it works as deft, brisk, slyly engaging docudrama.

Those dazzled by Stone's assaultively kinetic noisemakers, pictures such as "JFK" or "Any Given Sunday," will wonder what happened to the nutty firebrand of old. The film's relative restraint, visually and in the cheap-shot, screaming-lefty department, is rather remarkable. The furthest out the director ventures into the realm of fever-dream or fantasy consists of one Oval Office nightmare sequence, and a sad, effective leitmotif, depicting Bush alone in an empty stadium, listening to invisible cheering crowds.

Brolin has become a fine actor in recent years, and his performance in "W." is the one thing conservatives and liberals can agree upon. It is a tricky assignment: Go too far into caricature and impersonation, and you're reducing the man to his enemies' worst notions.

Brolin goes just far enough with certain traits to ring the bell: the little heh-heh-heh chuckle, the veiled and not-so-veiled outbursts, the mixture of sincere, unquestioning belief in a higher power and sincerely misjudged faith in, among others, the man he nicknamed "Vice" (Cheney, that is, played with surprising subtlety by Richard Dreyfuss). Brolin absorbs the surface traits into a suggestion, at least, of something unfinished or unresolved beneath the surface.

The script's back-and-forth narrative spans from 1966 to 2004. Brolin and Dreyfuss, along with such sly underplayers as Toby Jones as Karl Rove, lead the ensemble; unfortunately, not everyone follows. Some excellent performers get lost here, including Jeffrey Wright as Colin Powell (the voice is way off) and Thandie Newton's weirdly stylized Condoleezza Rice, all quavering fealty and marble-mouth niceties. On the other end of the spectrum, James Cromwell can't be bothered with even the slightest vocal or physical suggestion of Bush Senior, who in "W." serves as the key to Junior's struggles.

This is the strength and the weakness of the script, and the film. Everything is channeled through this idea of callow George's inability to earn approval from his father, even when W. (in a factually squishy bit) becomes the architect of the racist Willie Horton attack ad that single-handedly puts his old man in the White House, trumping Michael Dukakis. As with any narrative feature based in fact, some parts of "W." are truer than others. As with any Stone film, the swing between truth, "truth" and fantasy is willful and wide.

When it works, though, it works because for the first time since the 1980s Stone has made a film that establishes a tone and sticks to it. Like David Hare's stage play "Stuff Happens," "W." hangs its head-shaking tragicomedy on the Iraq War and the cloudy aftermath. In the end it depicts its subject as lost, and pitiable -- like Richard Nixon, but more a pawn than a dark knight.

 

MPAA rating: PG-13 (for language including sexual references, some alcohol abuse, smoking and brief disturbing war images).

Running time: 2:09.

Starring: Josh Brolin (George W. Bush); Elizabeth Banks (Laura Bush); Ellen Burstyn (Barbara Bush); James Cromwell (George H.W. Bush); Richard Dreyfuss (Dick Cheney); Scott Glenn (Donald Rumsfeld); Toby Jones (Karl Rove); Stacy Keach (Earle Hudd); Bruce McGill (George Tenet); Thandie Newton (Condoleezza Rice); Jeffrey Wright (Colin Powell).

Directed by Oliver Stone; written by Stanley Weiser; photographed by Phedon Papamichael; edited by Julie Monroe; music by Paul Cantelon; production design by Derek Hill; produced by Bill Block, Eric Kopeloff, Paul Hanson and Moritz Borman. A Lionsgate release.

 

W Oliver Stone's Movie about George Bush Movie Trailer

About the Movie "W Oliver Stone's Movie about George Bush"

Whether you love him or hate him, there is no question that George W. Bush is one of the most controversial public figures in recent memory. In an unprecedented undertaking, acclaimed director Oliver Stone is bringing the life of our 43rd President to the big screen as only he can. W. takes viewers through Bush's eventful life -- his struggles and triumphs, how he found both his wife and his faith, and of course the critical days leading up to his decision to invade Iraq.

W. is a Lionsgate release of a Lionsgate, Omnilab Media, QED International and Block/Hanson presentation in association with Emperor Motion Pictures, Millbrook Pictures and Global Entertainment Group of a Moritz Borman/Ixtlan production.

A Yale graduate, a sometimes Texas oilman, a one-time drinker and an Evangelical convert -George W. Bush was many things. But at the end of the day, he became the least likely of all: President of the United States.

How did this improbable character, long considered the black sheep of his esteemed family, transform himself into the Leader of the Free World? W. is the profoundly American story of George W. Bush, a man who wrestled with his personal demons in the long shadow of his father, found God at 40 and made an incredible turnaround that ultimately led him to the White House.

W. follows his journey from a Yale frat house to the oil fields and baseball diamonds of Texas, all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. In the process, it reveals the making of the man who would become the 43nd President of the United States - his struggles, his achievements and the consequences of both.

Says director Oliver Stone, "Regardless of your opinion of George W. Bush, the essence of the movie is to ask questions about the presidency, what happened and who the man is. How he got to be president is an amazing story unto itself. At first, he squandered his privileged circumstances. W. explores how he got it back and then what he does with it when he's President."

W. is not Stone's first presidential biopic. He previously explored the life and times of Richard M. Nixon in NIXON, which earned four Academy Award« nominations. To say that Oliver Stone did not share Nixon's politics would be a flagrant understatement; yet he presented a balanced, empathetic portrait of the man. Stone's goal was the same with W. Going behind the photo ops and speeches and policies, Stone attempts to reveal the man, with all of his foibles and strengths.

"Bush has had tremendous impact on the world," Stone explains. "Under his administration, the presidency and its powers have never been so enhanced. Obviously, it's a timely film and some people will reject our version of his life, but some will understand. I think ours is definitely a take on Bush that we haven't seen. Audiences will have a chance to look behind the curtain to see a man we don't really know. What is fascinating is that a father-son story grows at the heart of the movie. For many years I was under the impression that it was more a mother-son story; but the more we researched, we found that the father plays a much bigger role than we thought."

He notes that this complicated relationship has an overarching effect on George W. Bush and, by extension, on the United States and the world. It's a dynamic, he adds, that the Bush family doesn't often examine.

"A son in many ways competes with his father, rivals his father," Stone reflects. "The Bushs don't like to talk about it. But going back to the Greeks and the Elizabethans, the father-son relationship is a great, rich, juicy source of drama. The father's omissions are visited on the son; in a sense, they become the son's sins."

W. arose out of the ashes of another project Stone planned to direct called PINKVILLE, the story of the My Lai massacre. On the edge of Christmas 2007, the movie's financing fell out. Throughout that year, Stone and screenwriter Stanley Weiser, who had collaborated previously on the seminal film WALL STREET, (1987), had been developing a movie about Bush. The sudden demise of PINKVILLE focused Stone's attention entirely on W's script. "I felt if we didn't do the Bush movie at that moment, it wouldn't be made, not for a long time," explains Stone. "Attention spans in this era, particularly as to history, seem to have the shelf life of a fruit fly. And there was still a long-shot chance of getting W. out before the election."

He and Weiser researched their subject in depth; at the end, they divided the story into three parts and anchored fiction in fact.

"We never hid our motives; we always were faithful to the truth, but we also had to condense and dramatize. Act One is the seeds of the man: young, rebellious, a failure at all enterprises - until the age of 40, when he turns it around. The second act comes off his conversion to Evangelicalism, his turnaround in his personal habits, the imposition of a ferocious willpower. He becomes a baseball team owner, and then a two-term governor of Texas, and for a period of time, he projects an image of bipartisanship. The third and conclusive act is his presidency - but we didn't seek to cover the whole eight years. We concentrated on the beginnings, focusing on that crucial era between October 2001 and March 2003, when he finally went to war with Iraq," Stone says.

"Stanley Weiser and I worked very hard on our research for this movie, and read every book available on George W. Bush," continues Stone. "Not much was known about the Presidency during the 2000-2004 period because the Presidency was veiled and propagandized. But after 2004 there seems to have been increasing scholarship into the inner workings of the Bush Administration."

"Certainly, Bob Woodward penetrated the Bush Administration with four books," explains screenwriter Weiser. "The third one, State of Denial, particularly influenced us, and the fourth one, The War Within, which came out after we had finished, seems to validate many of the positions we take. We were also influenced by State of War by James Risen, The One Percent Doctrine by Ron Suskind, Oil, Power and Empire by Larry Everest, Hubris by David Corn and Michael Isikoff. Coming out when our film was finished, but validating much of the material are: Jane Meyer's The Dark Side, Barton Gellman's The Angler, Ron Suskind's The Way of the World, and Scott McClellan's What Happened."

Continues Weiser: "In looking at George Bush Jr.'s earlier life, we were very influenced by Bill Minutaglio's First Son, as well as parts of J. H. Hatfield's Fortunate Son. We also looked at various positive portrayals of Bush's conversion to Evangelicalism in Stephen Mansfield's The Faith of George W. Bush, and we looked closely at the readings on the bible in the widely sold My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers (1927)."

About the Cast "W Oliver Stone's Movie about George Bush"

Josh Brolin (George. W. Bush)

Josh Brolin (George. W. Bush) will next be seen in Gus Van Sant's MILK, opposite Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch and James Franco. The biopic tells the story of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office. Brolin portrays Dan White, the San Francisco County Supervisor who murders Milk. He most recently starred in Joel and Ethan Coen's NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, which won four Academy Awards«, including Best Picture and Best Director; and in Ridley Scott's blockbuster AMERICAN GANGSTER. Brolin was a Screen Actors Guild Award nominee as part of the ensemble for the latter film, and was honored with a Screen Actors Guild Award as part of the winning ensemble for the former. Brolin is currently producing a documentary with Chris Moore, Anthony Arnove and Howard Zinn, based on Zinn and Arnove's award-winning book, The People Speak, which looks at America's struggles with war, class, race and women's rights. The documentary features Matt Damon, Sean Penn, David Strathairn and Viggo Mortensen, among others.

Other film credits include Paul Haggis' IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH; Robert Rodriguez' PLANET TERROR portion of GRINDHOUSE; John Stockwell's INTO THE BLUE; Victor Nunez' COASTLINES; Paul Verhoeven's HOLLOW MAN; James D. Stern's ALL THE RAGE; Guillermo del Toro's MIMIC; David O. Russell's FLIRTING WITH DISASTER; and Richard Donner's THE GOONIES, which marked his film debut. In early 2008, Brolin's film directing debut, a short entitled X, which he also wrote and produced, premiered at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival before screening at such festivals as South by Southwest and the AFI Dallas Film Festival. Brolin also directed the behind-the-scenes documentary for the NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN DVD.

Brolin made his mark in television starring in two Western dramas: the epic miniseries "Into the West" and the popular series "The Young Riders." He has also starred in the series "Mister Sterling" and "Private Eye"; in the telefilms GANG IN BLUE, with the late J.T. Walsh, and PRISON FOR CHILDREN, directed by Larry Peerce; and in the telefilm remake of PICNIC, directed by Ivan Passer.

He spent five years with actor/director Anthony Zerbe at the Reflections Festival at the GeVa Theatre in Rochester, New York. While there, Brolin directed and performed in several of the festival's plays, including "Pitz and Joe"; "Life in the Trees"; "Forgiving Typhoid Mary"; "Oh; The Innocents"; "Peep Hole"; "Ellen Universe Joins the Band"; "Lincoln Park Zoo"; and "Hard Hearts."

His additional stage work includes starring opposite Elias Koteas on Broadway in Sam Shepard's "True West"; appearing Off-Broadway in "The Exonerated," "The Skin of Our Teeth," "The Crucible," and "A Streetcar Named Desire," all at the Kennedy Memorial Theatre; "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at the Lebrero Theatre; and "Dark of the Moon" at the Ann Capa Ensemble Theatre.

Elizabeth Banks (Laura Bush)

Elizabeth Banks (Laura Bush) is one of Hollywood's most sought-after young actresses. Banks stars in a number of upcoming films and has also taken on a new role as producer. She already has several films on the slate of her company, Brownstone Productions, which she founded with her husband, Max Handelman.

Banks recently starred opposite Eddie Murphy in the comedy MEET DAVE. Banks next stars opposite Seth Rogen in Kevin Smith's ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO. Banks (Miri) and Rogen (Zack) play two broke friends who decide to cure their financial ills by making an X-rated movie. In January 2009 Banks will be seen starring in the horror remake, UNINVITED, about two sisters who return home after living in a mental institution. Banks portrays their cruel stepmother, who is haunted by an interfering ghost.

Banks has also wrapped MENTORS, opposite Paul Rudd and Sean William Scott. The film follows two wild friends who are forced to join a big brother program. Banks plays Rudd's girlfriend who persuades him to join the program. Additionally, Banks has completed production on LOVELY, STILL, an independent film which stars Ellen Burstyn and Martin Landau. The story is a holiday fable about an elderly grocery store owner who discovers love for the first time. Banks plays Ellen Burstyn's daughter in the film, which is the directorial debut of Nik Fackler, who also wrote the screenplay.

Banks was recently seen in the romantic comedy DEFINITELY, MAYBE, opposite Ryan Reynolds, Abigail Breslin, Rachel Weisz and Isla Fisher. She also appeared in the independent comedy BILL, starring Aaron Eckhart and Jessica Alba.

Banks' production company, Brownstone Productions, has several films upcoming. The company's first film is SURROGATES, a sci-fi feature starring Bruce Willis and directed by Jonathan Mostow (TERMINATOR 3), which shot in Boston. The film is based on the graphic novel of the same name and is being co-produced with Mandeville. Banks will produce and star in the Universal comedy WHAT ABOUT BARB, about a socialite who must allow her crazy cousin to be maid of honor in her wedding so her rich uncle will pay for the wedding. Universal has acquired the rights to Too Far From Home, a Chris Jones book about three astronauts who were stranded on the international space station. Also on Brownstone's slate is the Universal comedy PITCH PERFECT.

In 2007, Banks was seen in the holiday comedy FRED CLAUS, opposite Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti. Banks reprised her role as journalist Betty Brant in SPIDERMAN 3, a role that director Sam Raimi created for her. In 2006, Banks starred in the blockbuster INVINCIBLE, opposite Mark Wahlberg and Greg Kinnear.

In 2005, Banks gave a memorable turn in THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN as Beth, a sex-crazed bookstore employee. The same year she also appeared in the independent film SISTERS, opposite Maria Bello and Eric McCormack. She was also seen the critically acclaimed horror/comedy SLITHER.

In June 2005, Banks starred in HEIGHTS, opposite Glenn Close and James Marsden. Also in 2005, Banks appeared in IFC Film's THE BAXTER.

Banks' additional feature credits include roles in Steve Spielberg's CATCH ME IF YOU CAN; DALTRY CALHOUN, starring Johnny Knoxville; Showtime Independent Films' SEXUAL LIFE, which screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival; John Singleton's SHAFT, with Samuel L. Jackson; and WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER, starring Janeane Garofalo and David Hyde Pierce. She has also appeared in several independent features, including THE TRADE and ORDINARY SINNER, which won the Best Film Award at the 2002 Slamdance Film Festival in Park City. Her extensive theater credits include many roles in American Conservatory Theatre productions, as well as the Guthrie Theater's production of "Summer and Smoke," directed by David Esbjornson. In 2006 Banks played Cherie, the female lead in William Inge's comedy "Bus Stop," as part of the Williamstown Theater Festival.

On the small screen Banks can be seen in a recurring role as Dr. Kim Porter on NBC's "Scrubs." She also starred in the CBS mini series "Comanche Moon," which is Larry McMurtry's popular prequel to "Lonesome Dove."

Originally from Massachusetts, Banks received her Bachelor's Degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Graduate Degree at the American Conservatory Theater.

Ellen Burstyn (Barbara Bush)

Ellen Burstyn (Barbara Bush) is one of the only actresses ever to have won both a Tony Award and an Academy Award« in the same year. In 1975, she won a Tony for her performance in Bernard Slade's production of "Same Time, Next Year" on Broadway and took home an Oscar« for the title role in Martin Scorsese's ALICE DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE. For her work in that film, she also received a Golden Globe« nomination and won a BAFTA for Best Actress. Burstyn has also been honored with Academy Award« and Golden Globe Award« nominations for her work in THE LAST PICTURE SHOW, THE EXORCIST, SAME TIME NEXT YEAR, RESURRECTION, and Darren Aronofsky's REQUIEM FOR A DREAM. In addition, she won an Independent Spirit Award and received a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for REQUIEM FOR A DREAM. She reunited with Aronofsky on THE FOUNTAIN, opposite Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz.

Burstyn's long list of film credits also includes ALEX IN WONDERLAND; THE KING OF MARVIN GARDENS; HARRY AND TONTO; PROVIDENCE; DREAM OF PASSION; SILENCE OF THE NORTH; TWICE IN A LIFETIME; DYING YOUNG; THE CEMETERY CLUB; ROOMMATES; HOW TO MAKE AN AMERICAN QUILT; THE BABYSITTER'S CLUB; THE SPITFIRE GRILL; PLAYING BY HEART; THE YARDS; WALKING ACROSS EGYPT; THE DIVINE SECRETS OF THE YA YA SISTERHOOD; THE WICKER MAN; and THE STONE ANGEL. Upcoming films include Tim Chambers' OUR LADY OF VICTORY, opposite Carla Gugino; Jodie Markell's THE LOSS OF A TEARDROP DIAMOND, with Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Evans and Mamie Gummer; and Nicholas Fackler's LOVELY, STILL, also starring Martin Landau, Adam Scott and Elizabeth Banks.

Burstyn has also garnered three Emmy Award« nominations for her work on television, including her most recent for her work on the television movie MRS. HARRIS. She received her first Emmy« in 1981 for her performance in the title role of THE PEOPLE VS. JEAN HARRIS, for which she also received a Golden Globe« nomination. She garnered her second Emmy« nomination for her role in the 1987 production of PACK OF LIES.

A consummate stage actress, Burstyn appeared on Broadway in the 1982 production of "84 Charing Cross Road" and Off-Broadway in "Park Your Car in Harvard Yard," starring opposite Burgess Meredith. She starred in the acclaimed one-woman play "Shirley Valentine" and then starred in the Broadway plays "Shimada" in 1992 and "Sacrilege" in 1995. In the mid 90s, she starred in two plays written by Horton Foote: "The Trip to Bountiful" and "The Death of Papa." She also starred in Eugene O'Neill's "Long Day's Journey Into Night" at Houston's Alley Theatre and at Hartford Stage in Connecticut. In the fall of 2003, Burstyn returned to Broadway in "Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All," presented at the Longacre Theatre, where she had made her Broadway debut in 1957 in Sam Locke's "Fair Game."

Burstyn was the first woman to be elected President of Actor's Equity Association and served for six years as the Artistic Director of the Actors Studio, where she studied with the late Lee Strasberg. She received the Career Achievement Award from the Boston Film Festival in 2000 and the Career Achievement Award from the National Board of Review in 2001.

In 1996, she was nominated for a Grammy« Award in the Best Spoken Word category as the narrator of "Growing Old Along With Me, The Best is Yet to Be." She holds three honorary doctorates: one in Fine Arts from The School of Visual Arts, and two in Humane Letters, from Dowling College and from The New School for Social Research. She also wrote a memoir, Lessons in Becoming Myself, published by Riverhead Press.

James Cromwell (George Herbert Walker Bush)

James Cromwell (George Herbert Walker Bush) was born in Los Angeles and raised in New York and is a highly respected actor who worked extensively on the stage before beginning his film career in 1976. He first became widely known to audiences with his role as Farmer Hoggett in BABE. His work in the film earned him an Oscar« nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He has appeared in numerous other films, including SPIDER-MAN 3; BECOMING JANE; Neil Jordan's THE QUEEN, as Prince Philip; THE LONGEST YARD; I, ROBOT; THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLINT; STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT; Curtis Hanson's acclaimed L.A. CONFIDENTIAL; THE GREEN MILE; and SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS.

Cromwell has also made many notable guest appearances on television series, including "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," "Star Trek: The Next Generation," "LA Law," "Hill Street Blues," and "MASH." His performance as George Sibley on "Six Feet Under" earned him an Emmy« nomination, as did his guest star work on "ER." He was also nominated for an Emmy« for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie for his portrayal of William Randolph Hearst in RKO 281.

Richard Dreyfuss (Dick Cheney)

Three of Richard Dreyfuss' (Dick Cheney) films are included in the American Film Institute's list of the 100 greatest films. At age 20, Dreyfuss won the Academy Award« for Best Actor in THE GOODBYE GIRL. Twenty-nine years later, for his role as the teacher in MR. HOLLAND'S OPUS, he received Academy Award« and Golden Globe« nominations for Best Actor.

Throughout his life, Dreyfuss has been known not only for his acting but also for his commitment to political and social activism. He has campaigned for candidates and causes and given testimony advocating for national service before congressional committees. Together with Columbia University and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, he created a conference at the Strasburg Institute in Austria for Israeli and Arab journalists, including representatives from Arab, American and European Television news networks such as Al Jazeera, CNN and the BBC. He is co-founder of L.A. Works, a non-profit public action and volunteer center in Los Angeles. Dreyfuss is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

Dreyfuss is most passionate about the need for civic engagement in the United States and the return of a civics curriculum to every American classroom. To that end, in 2005, he became Senior Associate Member of St. Anthony's College at Oxford University in England. While there, he has been researching and helping to design a new curriculum for American public schools, K-12, that teaches political power in a republican democracy.

He has given lectures on the need for civic engagement at the London School of Economics; Oxford University; Cambridge University; WNYC; James Madison University; George Mason University; The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University; Yale University; Bronx Science High School; The National Press Club; and the National Association of Secondary School Principals and Superintendents.

In addition to his more recent work, Dreyfuss was the executive producer, writer and host of the award-winning ABC special honoring the bicentennial of the Constitution, "Funny, You Don't Look 200: A Constitutional Vaudeville."

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Dreyfuss and his parents moved to Los Angeles, where he soon realized he wanted to spend his life as an actor. He began his acting career at age nine, playing Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism, at the Westside Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles. After his formal schooling, he spent two years as a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War, doing alternative service as a clerk at the Los Angeles County General Hospital.

Dreyfuss made his motion picture debut in 1967 with a bit part in VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, followed by one line in THE GRADUATE. Several films later, in 1973, his sensitive portrayal of an ambivalent college-bound teen in the cult classic AMERICAN GRAFFITI garnered him both praise and attention. This was the beginning of a string of stellar performances in such films as JAWS, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, THE GOODBYE GIRL and MR. HOLLAND'S OPUS. In recent years, Dreyfuss has returned to his theatrical roots, with starring roles in "The Hands of Its Enemy"; "The Normal Heart"; the Broadway production of "Death and the Maiden," with Glenn Close and Gene Hackman; and "Three Hotels," with Christine Lahti at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.

In 2000, he was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Hollywood Film Festival. Upcoming, Dreyfuss will appear in the feature film MY LIFE IN RUINS, with Nia Vardalos.

Scott Glenn (Donald Rumsfeld)

Free-ranging versatility and powerful reality of characterization have been the common denominators of Scott Glenn's (Donald Rumsfeld) actors' actor career in film, theatre and television. All are vitally present in his hot run of current, recent and upcoming portrayals.

Glenn's range is showcased in his next feature films, including Warner Bros.' romantic drama NIGHTS IN RODANTHE, with Diane Lane, Richard Gere and James Franco, which opens on October 3rd. Switching gears and genres, Glenn stars in the ensemble comedy SURFER DUDE with Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson and Willie Nelson, which opened on September 12th in select cities. In SURFER DUDE, Glenn plays a founding father of the surfer world, from whom McConaughey seeks help when there are no waves for months.

Since he burst to stardom in James Bridges' URBAN COWBOY, Glenn has proven over and again that no nails are tougher than the tougher-than-nails power he brings to a role of unrelenting vengeance, as he does in Miramax's 2003 BUFFALO SOLDIERS, about organized crime among a small group of professional soldiers stationed in Europe. Other recent colorful Glenn characterizations of men of brutal strength include roles in Martin Campbell's VERTICAL LIMIT and Antoine Fuqua's TRAINING DAY.

In 2003, Glenn appeared on television in a touching portrayal of the youthful grandfather of best-selling author John Grisham in the Hallmark Hall Of Fame presentation A PAINTED HOUSE, adapted from Grisham's coming-of-age novel. A role of loving wisdom, kindness and humor such as he created in Lasse Halstr÷m's THE SHIPPING NEWS, the Grisham film was a fast return to Hallmark's respected television productions following Glenn's well-received work on Hallmark's THE SEVENTH STREAM. A PAINTED HOUSE is directed by Alfonso Arau (LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE).

The Actors Studio-trained Glenn was an electric presence as John Travolta's deadly cowboy antagonist in URBAN COWBOY. The attractive, even romantic, danger that Glenn brings to many of his roles has drawn raves and award attention ever since; most recently in his startling Off-Broadway turn in the title role of the lauded play "Killer Joe." Marking his increasing presence on the New York stage, the performance earned Glenn a Best Actor nomination from the Drama Desk Award voters and a special honor at the Drama League Awards presentations.

During the past 20 years, Glenn has helped power films including THE RIGHT STUFF, SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, BACKDRAFT and 2007's THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM to international box-office records and critical acclaim.

For a kid from the streets of Pittsburgh, Glenn has created a list of indelible western characters in films such as TALL TALE, SILVERADO and MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN COWBOYS, along with his convict cowboy of URBAN COWBOY. His varied and adventurous career has included roles ranging from the darkly comedic RECKLESS with Mia Farrow, to Disney's big fantasy/adventure epic, TALL TALE with Patrick Swayze. RECKLESS, an American Playhouse Production distributed by Goldwyn Films, allowed Glenn to tackle an unconventional character. The same might be said of the artist himself, a man whose recreations includes free-fall skydiving, ice climbing, motorcycle racing, martial arts, combat shooting and free diving

All told, it has been a career which has allowed Glenn to range a long distance from the compelling evil of his URBAN COWBOY character; a career of roles which established the actor as one of the screen's most sympathetic performers.

Toby Jones (Karl Rove)

Toby Jones (Karl Rove) is a British actor based in London. He trained at the ╔cole Internationale du Theatre in Paris under Jacques Lecoq. Jones has extensive experience on the stage, including productions at the National Theatre and most recently with the international theater company Complicite in Simon McBurney's celebrated production of "Measure for Measure" by William Shakespeare. He has written several shows, including "Wanted Men" ("a domestic epic" set in a garden shed) and "Missing Reel" (the true story of his deletion from both the film NOTTING HILL and its geographic namesake). These shows were developed at the National Theatre Studio, where Jones has directed, acted and taught for several years.

In 2001, Jones starred with Hamish McColl and Sean Foley in the comedy hit "The Play What I Wrote," directed by Kenneth Branagh. The play went on to win the Olivier Award for Best Comedy and Jones won an Olivier for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. It ran for a year before transferring to Broadway in 2003, where it was nominated for a Tony. Jones played Arthur in the play, which chronicled the shifting relationship between a double act. Every night, the show featured a special guest star that Arthur had to imitate. Over 50 different celebrities eventually performed in the show, including Ralph Fiennes, Sting, Ewan McGregor, Bob Geldof, Kevin Kline, Nathan Lane, John McEnroe, Glenn Close and Holly Hunter.

In 2005, Jones played Truman Capote in Doug McGrath's film about the writer entitled INFAMOUS, co-starring Sandra Bullock, Sigourney Weaver, Daniel Craig, Isabella Rossellini, Gwyneth Paltrow, Hope Davis and Jeff Daniels. Later that year, Jones played Robert Cecil in the HBO/Channel 4 production of ELIZABETH I with Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons. He also starred opposite Naomi Watts and Edward Norton in THE PAINTED VEIL; played the Duke of Clarence in Michael Apted's AMAZING GRACE, about slavery reformer William Wilberforce; and portrayed William Hogarth in the Channel 4 film A HARLOT'S PROGRESS, about the painter and his work. Upcoming for Jones is Ron Howard's FROST/NIXON, in which he plays legendary agent Swifty Lazar, and Gil Kenan's THE CITY OF EMBER.

Other films include MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS, LADIES IN LAVENDER, FINDING NEVERLAND, EVER AFTER, THE MIST, and HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS, in which he is the voice of Dobby.

Stacy Keach (Earle Hudd)

2008 has been a busy year for Stacy Keach (Earle Hudd). He played the title role in the LA Theatre Works' production of Bertolt Brecht's "Galileo." At the Television Academy's Lifetime Achievement Awards in April, he performed "Harlem Nocturne" on the piano for the song's composer, the legendary Earle Hagan. He hosted the Golden Score Awards for the American Society of Composers and Arrangers, and has written the music for Rob Nilsson's latest film, IMBUED; Keach also stars in the film, due to be released early next year. Keach also performed a cameo role as Merlin in the New York Philharmonic's "Camelot," which was televised for the PBS series, "Live from Lincoln Center."

John Huston once said of Keach: "Stacy is not a star. He is a constellation. The audience will come to see whatever character he portrays." This constellation has played a constellation of the classic and contemporary stage's greatest roles to grand success, and he is considered a preeminent American interpreter of Shakespeare.

The versatile Keach may perhaps be best known around the world for his portrayal of the hard-boiled detective Mike Hammer. Keach is also well-known among younger generations for his portrayal of the irascible, hilarious dad, Ken Titus, in the Fox sitcom "Titus," and more recently as Warden Henry Pope in the hit series "Prison Break." Following his triumphant recent title role performance in "King Lear" for the prestigious Goodman Theatre in Chicago, Keach launched on a string of films, including John Sayles' recent HONEYDRIPPER; DEATHMATCH for the Spike Channel; THE BOXER for Zeitsprung Production; and most recently THE ASSISTANTS with Joe Mantegna and Keach's sister-in-law, Jane Seymour.

Keach began his film career in the late 1960s with THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER, followed by THE NEW CENTURIONS with George C. Scott; DOC with Faye Dunaway; FAT CITY, directed by John Huston; and THE LONG RIDERS, which he co-produced and co-wrote with his brother, James, directed by Walter Hill. On the lighter side, his characterization of Sgt. Stedenko in Cheech and Chong's UP IN SMOKE and the sequel, NICE DREAMS, gave a whole new generation a taste of Keach's comedic flair, which he also demonstrated in Robert Altman's BREWSTER MCCLOUD, playing the oldest living lecherous Wright Brother; and THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JUDGE ROY BEAN, playing a crazed albino out to kill Paul Newman.

Historical roles have always attracted Keach. In movies, he has played roles ranging from Martin Luther to Frank James, and he recently played Galileo on NPR. On television he has been Napoleon, Wilbur Wright, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Barabbas, Sam Houston, and Ernest Hemingway, for which he won a Golden Globe« as Best Actor in a mini-series and was nominated for an Emmy« in the same category. He played an eccentric painter, Mistral, in the Judith Krantz classic, MISTRAL'S DAUGHTER; a Northern spy in the Civil War special, THE BLUE AND THE GREY; and, more recently, pirate Benjamin Hornigold in the Hallmark epic BLACKBEARD. As a director, his production of Arthur Miller's "Incident at Vichy" for PBS was praised by Mr. Miller in his autobiography, Timebends, as "the most expressive production" of that play he had seen. Keach won a Cine Golden Eagle Award for his work on the dramatic documentary, THE REPEATER, in which he starred and also wrote and directed.

But it is perhaps the theater where Keach shines most brightly, having begun his professional career with the New York Shakespeare Festival in 1964, doubling as Marcellus and the Player King in a production of "Hamlet" directed by Joseph Papp and which featured Julie Harris as Ophelia. He rose to prominence in 1967 in the Off-Broadway political satire "MacBird," for which he received the first of his three Obie Awards. He played the title roles in "Henry V," "Hamlet" (which he played three times), "Richard III," "Macbeth," and, most recently, "King Lear" in Robert Falls' modern adaptation at Chicago's Goodman Theatre. Keach is in preparation for the Tony Award-winning "Frost/Nixon," and will portray Richard Nixon in the U.S. national tour of Peter Morgan's play beginning this fall.

Following the tour of "Frost/Nixon," Keach will revive his interpretation of Shakespeare's "King Lear" with director Robert Falls, which won "Best of 2006" kudos from both the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. "Lear" will be performed June-July 2009 at the new Shakespeare Harmon Center in Washington, D.C., under the auspices of Michael Kahn.

Keach is the narrator for the award-winning CNBC series "American Greed" and is the host for the "Twilight Zone" radio drama series. He will be reprising his role as Mike Hammer in the new audio adventures of Mickey Spillane's famous gumshoe.

Bruce McGill (George Tenet)

Since driving his motorcycle up the Delta House stairs as Daniel "D-Day" Simpson in NATIONAL LAMPOON'S ANIMAL HOUSE, Bruce McGill (George Tenet) has been a constant and memorable screen presence. His recent films include the thriller VANTAGE POINT, Ron Howard's CINDERELLA MAN, Michael Mann's COLLATERAL and Cameron Crowe's ELIZABETHTOWN.

McGill has appeared in over 60 films, including RUNAWAY JURY; MATCHSTICK MEN; LEGALLY BLONDE 2; THE INSIDER; THE SUM OF ALL FEARS; SHALLOW HAL; THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE; COURAGE UNDER FIRE; MY COUSIN VINNY; THE LAST BOY SCOUT; and SILKWOOD. His list of television credits is equally impressive. He starred in some of HBO's most critically acclaimed productions, including the recent RECOUNT, LIVE FROM BAGHDAD, PATH TO WAR and 61*. He has made memorable guest appearances on "CSI"; "Law & Order"; "The Practice"; "Gideon's Crossing"; "Home Improvement"; "Star Trek: Voyager"; "The Commish"; "Quantum Leap"; "McGyver"; and "Miami Vice," among others. McGill also played the family patriarch in INSIDE THE OSMONDS and starred opposite Glenn Close in THE BALLED OF LUCY WHIPPLE.

Originally from San Antonio, Texas, McGill began his acting career on stage in elementary school. After earning his BFA in acting from the University of Texas at Austin, he made his professional debut as a member of Rhode Island's Trinity Square Repertory Company, acting in productions of "Tom Jones," "Peer Gynt," "Sherlock Holmes" and "The Tooth of the Crime." After relocating to New York, he began a long association with the New York Shakespeare Festival, appearing in "Hamlet," produced by the legendary Joseph Papp, "Henry V" and "Othello," playing Iago to Raul Julia's Othello. Other theatrical affiliations include the Ensemble Studio Theater in New York, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the National Shakespeare Company in Washington, D.C.

Thandie Newton (Condi Rice)

BAFTA Award-winning Thandie Newton (Condi Rice) is not only one of the world's great beauties, but an actress of uncommon talent and range.

She will next be seen in ROCKNROLLA, written and directed by Guy Ritchie. It's a crime tale about a Russian mobster who orchestrates a crooked land deal, putting millions of dollars up for grabs and attracting all of London's criminal underworld. Everyone from a dangerous crime lord to a sexy accountant, a corrupt politician and down-on-their-luck petty thieves conspire, collude and collide with one another in an effort to get rich quick. Newton stars opposite Gerard Butler, Tom Wilkinson, Jeremy Piven, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges and Idris Elba. Warner Brothers is scheduled to release the film wide on October 31, 2008.

Newton was last seen in David Schwimmer's comedy RUN FAT BOY RUN opposite Hank Azaria and Simon Pegg. The film centers on a man who leaves the woman he loves (Newton) at the altar and tries to make amends five years later when the woman has moved on with another man (Azaria). Libby (Newton) must then decide between the two men she loves (Pegg and Azaria). Picturehouse released the film on March 28, 2008.

Newton was praised for her work in the Academy Award«-winning Best Picture of 2006, CRASH, the story of a multiracial group of characters whose lives interconnect following a car accident in Los Angeles. For her performance, Newton received BAFTA (Outstanding Supporting Actress) and SAG (Best Ensemble) Awards.

Born to a Zimbabwean mother and an English father, Newton was born and raised in London and Zambia until she was three years old. Due to political unrest in Zambia, her family then relocated to England permanently.

At age 16, while studying modern dance at the London Art Educational School, she won the lead role in John Duigan's critically acclaimed 1990 coming-of-age film, FLIRTING, playing a Ugandan girl isolated in an Australian ladies academy who begins a romance with a teenage boy from a neighboring boarding school. After completing the film, Newton returned to England to continue her education, earning a B.A. with honors in anthropology at Cambridge University while also acting in feature films for some of Hollywood's most acclaimed directors, including Neil Jordan's INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE and James Ivory's JEFFERSON IN PARIS. Newton also appeared as a troubled singer opposite Tupac Shakur and Tim Roth in Vondie Curtis-Hall's comedy-drama GRIDLOCK'D, and won critics' praise as the exiled wife of an African leader in Bernardo Bertolucci's BESIEGED.

Other credits include Gabriele Muccino's critically acclaimed box office hit THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS opposite Will Smith; Jonathan Demme's contemporary romantic thriller THE TRUTH ABOUT CHARLIE, inspired by Stanley Donen's 1963 film CHARADE; and the John Woo-helmed action film MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 2. Newton received rave reviews for her astonishingly original and bold performance as the title character in Jonathan Demme's 1998 adaptation of Toni Morrison's novel BELOVED, co-starring Oprah Winfrey.

On television, Newton made recurring guest appearances as Kem, a Congolese aid worker on NBC's hit drama "ER," opposite Noah Wyle. It marked Newton's American television debut.

Thandie Newton resides in England with her husband and two children.

Jeffrey Wright (Colin Powell)

Jeffrey Wright (Colin Powell) is widely recognized as one of the most talented and versatile actors of his generation. He won the Emmy« and the Golden Globe« for his supporting role in the acclaimed HBO mini-series "Angels in America." He also won a Tony Award for his performance in the stage version of "Angels in America: Perestroika."

Wright previously starred as Martin Luther King in the HBO production BOYCOTT, for which he won the AFI Actor of the Year Award for Male Actor in a TV Movie or Mini-Series. He co-starred in Jim Jarmusch's BROKEN FLOWERS; Jonathan Demme's THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE; and played photographer Howard Bingham in Michael Mann's ALI. He also co-starred in the ensemble drama SYRIANA.

Wright co-starred in THE INVASION, LADY IN THE WATER and CASINO ROYALE, as well as the latest installment of the James Bond series, QUANTUM OF SOLACE. He recently wrapped CADILLAC RECORDS, playing legendary blues man Muddy Waters.

The native of Washington, D.C. made his big screen debut in the title role of BASQUIAT, the true story of the graffiti artist who became one of America's most successful and influential painters of the 1980s. He followed this with a starring role in Ang Lee's RIDE WITH THE DEVIL and subsequently starred as Peoples Hernandez in the 2000 remake of the classic SHAFT.

On stage, Wright earned another Tony nomination in the critically lauded "Topdog/Underdog." He often performs at the New York Shakespeare Festival, where he earned high praise for his portrayal of Marc Antony in the Shakespeare in the Park production of "Julius Caesar." He also completed a long, successful run on Broadway in George C. Wolfe's award-winning "Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Funk." On television, he starred in Wolfe's Emmy«-winning HBO movie LACKAWANNA BLUES.

Wright graduated Amherst College with a B.A. in political science and received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from his alma mater in 2004. He currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, actress Carmen Ejogo, and their two children.

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W Oliver Stone's Movie about George Bush

W Oliver Stone's Movie about George Bush George W. Bush (Josh Brolin, far right) with Karl Rove (Toby Jones, second from right), Dick Cheney (Richard Dreyfuss, third from right) and Condoleezza Rice (Thandie Newton, fourth from right) in W. Photo Credit: Sidney Ray Baldwin
George W. Bush (Josh Brolin, far right) with Karl Rove (Toby Jones, second from right), Dick Cheney (Richard Dreyfuss, third from right) and Condoleezza Rice (Thandie Newton, fourth from right) in W.

 

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W Oliver Stone's Movie about George Bush Movie Review
Film Critic Michael Phillips Reviews "W." Oliver Stone's Movie about George Bush

W Oliver Stone's Movie about George Bush Starring Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Banks, Ellen Burstyn, James Cromwell, Richard Dreyfuss, Scott Glenn, Toby Jones, Stacy Keach, Bruce McGill, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright
W Oliver Stone's Movie about George Bush Movie Review, Movie Trailer, Movie Production Notes, Synopsis, About the Movie, About the Cast