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Man Of The Year
UH Professor/Political Analyst/MidWeek Columnist
As Told To Melissa Moniz
Where and with whom did you see the movie?
I saw the movie with my wife, the high strung Filipina,at the Pearl Highlands Regal Cinema Theatres.
Overall what did you think of the movie?
I thought it was only better than the price of admission and barely even that.It’s debatable whether it was worth the price of admission.
What’s your biggest complaint or the worst aspect of the movie?
The movie couldn’t decide what it wanted to be. It starts out with the idea that this Jon Stewart -type talk show guy is sort of drafted by overwhelming media and applause and support from the folks.And he runs, and there’s a computer glitch, and he wins. So it mixes up this funny man making funny comments about the political situation with the threat of computer malfunctions that can distort our political life.And so if you can find entertainment in any of that, then you’re a better man than I.They throw in a love affair, too, between Robin Williams and Laura Linney, who is the gal who knows that it was a computer glitch that allowed him to win the presidency. So it’s ridiculous and turns crazy. The best part of the movie are the lines where Robin Williams is allowed to go crazy about the political situations.You can’t get any better than crazy Robin Williams when he’s off on his rants. He’s just funny - one of the funniest men alive probably. But there are only a few scenes of that. I found it dull, and it’s really hard for me to find politics dull,but this was really dull.
Do you think the movie was intended to be unrealistic, or did they make it appear that this scenario could really happen?
I don’t think they could decide.On one hand they were acting like this could really happen. There’s real debates now about having a paper trail for voting and the possible corruption in voting,and that’s been particularly true since the 2000 presidential elections and more recently in 2004 with the Ohio vote, where people think that Kerry could have won that.And I’ve even heard Governor Lingle complain that with machine voting you can’t be sure of the possibilities of fraud. So that’s a serious political issue,but again it’s not a sexy one.
It doesn’t provide much in the way of drama. It’s two or three movies really. One half is the thought of this funny man Robin Williams being elected president,and then there’s this second movie about the screw up in the electronic voting which allows him to get elected when in fact he didn’t.So one part attempts to be funny - and I didn’t find it that funny - and the second part attempts to be serious about an issue that is so bloodless. I mean, how do you get people interested in that kind of drama? Maybe a computer guy can get excited,but it’s pretty damn hard.
Did the movie take a lot of jabs at President Bush and/or our previous presidents?
There were obviously some shots at the Bush administration without any mention of Bush. Comments about healthcare,the environment, campaign contributions, special interest money and supporting big candidates,which wasn’t just Bush, but going after the bulk of major party candidates.That type of thing.But I wouldn’t say it was a shot at the previous president or the current president.That wasn’t the main point. But I’m not sure what the main point was. One was a place for Christopher Walken and Robin Williams to come up with funny lines and, of course, part of it is based on the observation that more and more people, particularly young people, get their political news from the likes of the Jon Stewart, Jay Leno and David Letterman guys and what they say in their monologues about politics.
In a four star rating, with four being the highest, what would you rate it?
One and 1/2 stars.
What’s your favorite movie snack?
Popcorn and a diet soda - that’s if my wife forgets to sneak the bottle of water in.
What’s your favorite movie of all time?
Oh there are too many - Casablanca is a favorite, Citizen Kane. I can go on forever,Grapes of Wrath.There have been some brilliant American movies,just not a lot of them made in recent years.
Do you go to the movies often?
As often as I can. My wife and I are real movie buffs,but she will watch anything and I’m a little bit more selective than she. And she’s actually a pretty good critic of movies,I think.But she’ll see anything and sometimes I have to step back and tell her to take our daughter. So we like movies, but frankly there’s not a lot out there for adults.
Do you have a favorite actor/actress?
I’m afraid my tastes in actresses is strongly influenced by my aesthetic sense, and I will go to any movie no matter how bad it is in which Diane Lane appears because she is so damn gorgeous, and the same is true for Nicole Kidman. However, our finest actress right now is unquestionably Meryl Streep - whatever she does she does well.When it comes to actors,I’ve told my students many,many times that I’d pay money to watch Denzel Washington cross the street.He’s just so terrific.
Oh,I think anyone who reads MidWeek or reads the political column knows that it’s election year and I’m real busy with the MidWeek column,election night coverage,KGMB’s political analyst,and doing a lot of talks about politics and teaching school.My main job is teaching school - that’s where I make my money.
Have you always had a passion for politics?
Oh, yes, from high school time. I remember in high school going down to a county Republican convention, and I don’t know why.I just somehow had gotten sufficiently interested and went down there, got hooked and have been active ever since.
Next week: a new movie, a new celebrity
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