Saturday, July 2, 2011

John P. Meyer reviews 'The Undefeated' for Pegasus News

"The visuals are enhanced by dramatic orchestral background scoring..."
Pegasus News is an online news and entertainment site focused on the DFW area covering neighborhood news, the local music scene, top restaurants and the like. The target readership for this genre is active people of sufficient means to still have an item in their budgets tagged "nightlife" in an economy, which even in Dallas-Ft. Worth is at best lukewarm. John P. Meyer is Pegasus' "film guy," and he was in the audience at the AMC Grapevine Mills 30 for a special Thursday night screening of "The Undefeated" for community leaders and media types. Here are a few excerpts from his review:
Stephen K. Bannon's filmmaking approach here is straightforward storytelling style, with talking head interviews with Palin associates comprising the meat of the material. He spices up the narrative with sweeping scenes of the Alaskan countryside, Palin baby pictures (she was a cute kid!), and occasional tongue-in-cheek stock footage visuals presented as a means of illustrating a point. (Think: dollar bills being flushed down the toilet; slick suited, sunglasses-wearing corporate executive types debarking from private jets; an anonymous politician cringing in fear as he answers the phone, presumably in receipt of news that "Whistleblower" Palin's on his case.)

Palin herself contributes a good bit of narration to the film, which also features video footage contemporary with her career as Wasilla mayor (two terms), and her demonstrably successful stint as Alaska's reform-minded, consensus-building, limited-government-advocating governor, prior to the McCain team's V.P. invitation in August 2008.

As her many sweeping legislative successes are being extolled, in fact, I wondered to myself why in heaven's name she would have chosen to resign the governorship upon her presidential ticket's defeat. To its credit, the film goes on to address that point with an explanation involving the spate of ethics complaints filed against her (which, even if false, she was constrained to defend against out of her own pocket). As a consequence of some kind of Republican establishment backlash, it's implied, her efforts to foster passage of even the most mundane of legislative measures during this period were undermined.

So she resigned for the sake of the state, the way the movie tells it.

The visuals are enhanced by dramatic orchestral background scoring (credit David Cebert), inspirational in tone as Palin's successes are being extolled, and then ominous as we hear about the inimical forces operating to take her down.

The last segment of the film chronicles Palin's fundamental influence on the Tea Party movement, and documents her ongoing central role at some of its rallies. It's at this point where the film turns downright evangelical in tone, inspiring our particular audience to break out in chants of "Run, Sarah, Run!" as we approached the end credits.

Meyer concludes that as an in-depth "subject-friendly biopic," the film succeeds "fairly well." He does offer some constructive criticism, however.

The critic thought the documentary was too long and suggests that it be edited down to an hour and a half in length. Director Stephen Bannon has already addressed this point in interviews. He says the finished product run two hours because he felt that depth of detail was essential to tell the story of Sarah Palin's struggle which led to "the catharsis of her convention speech and the once-in-a-lifetime run she went on at those early rallies." Most of the people who have pre-screened "The Undefeated," according to Bannon, say it actually feels much shorter than its two-hour length because the film moves at a rapid pace. Meyer seems to be the exception on that score.

Meyer's other complaint is a bit of nit-picking. In the film Gov. Palin says that her legislative agenda boils down to "three words: the natural gas pipeline" (Meyer's quote). This, he feels, is an apparent "verbal gaffe" which should be edited out of the final product. But in this case, the word "the" was not an essential part of her agenda. "Natural gas pipeline" is three words by our arithmetic. At any rate, what the governor said hardly rises to the level of absurdity, unlike Joe Biden's attempted schooling of John McCain, when he said "...the number one job facing the middle class, and it happens to be, as Barack says, a three-letter word: jobs. J-O-B-S."

- JP

1 comment:

  1. I was at that event and, for the most part, the reviewer does a pretty fair job of describing it. I didn't care for the snarky comment about her "bouffant hairdo" at the end of his piece, however. That really shines the light on his underlying bias.