24 September 2006

I've been waiting for All the King's Men for over a year, and I'm happy to say that it's as decent as I hoped it would be after a raft of disappointing reviews. Some readers may remember my previous post about Huey Long, and I really just wanted to watch Sean Penn act the part of raving Southern demagogue. Penn is excellent, and I think I could have watched him just walking around, giving orders, and making speeches for two hours. As it was, I had to watch some weird sideplot involving Jude Law, which was happily salvaged by Anthony Hopkins's ten minutes on the screen.

What I don't get is why someone doesn't just make a movie about Long without changing the facts. It's not too common to see a based-on-a-true-story movie that's less sensational than reality. They ignore some of Long's more outrageous exploits (like his surprisingly effective term as Senator, where he also manages to keep control of the Governor's office) and gloss over others (his legislative arm-twisting tactics). Long also had a more interesting ascent to the Governor's office than Penn's Willie Stark, who (according to the movie) only becomes a political mastermind after taking up hard liquor. Still, these are minor quibbles, and if you want to see seedy politics in action, you could do worse than this movie.

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