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Franken;Al God Spoke
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Brought to you by the makers of the Oscar-nominated The War Room, Al Franken: God Spoke is an intimate and hilarious behind-the-scenes look at the life of the former Saturday Night Live comedian turned author, radio host, and political satirist. Go on the road with Franken as he wages his unrelenting one-man crusade against the hypocrisies and cynicism of the far right. From the birth of the liberal Air America radio network to the floor of the Republican National Convention, there is no better tour guide through the tumult of recent American politics than Al Franken. Acclaimed directors Nick Doob and Chris Hegedus provide a front-row seat to the entertaining and often absurd theater of America's partisan politics, while telling the story of Franken's transformation from irreverent gadfly of the American right to still irreverent potential Senate candidate. Including footage of his well-publicized dust-ups with Ann Coulter and Bill O'Reilly, Al Franken: God Spoke is a bitingly funny look at the business of politics.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It shows his mission to give the voice of liberal dissent an outlet via Air America Radio and his contemplation of running for the senate in '04 after the death of Paul Wellstone. What was interesting for me was the glimpse into conservative radio and TV personalities and by that I do mean personalities not broadcast journalists including Hannity, O'Reilly, Michael Medvid (former movie critic) and Neal Boortz (contender for the title of Right Wing Megalomaniac). Then there is Ann Coulter, the Heidi Fleiss of the right; too bad All Franken did not know at the time she plagerized her columns and book or it would have been a more intense encounter.
This was fun and revealing because you get a glimpse in to Franken's private life and meet his wife and get to see him in his off time. If you are a Franken fan and want a humorous glimpse in to his life this is for you.
I am a fan of Franken, and as we also receive the Fox News channel down here, I have come to despise O'Reilly, Hannity, Coulter, and company. This is why I was hoping I could highly rate this DVD.
I found it extremelly slow and at times, simply boring. I have laughed with delight at Franken's books, together with an array of his TV and audio commentaries.
The official Amazon review states, "The filmmakers, longtime associates of cinéma verité pioneer DA Pennebaker, take a fly-on-the-wall approach towards Franken's activities around the time of the 2004 presidential election and afterwards as he explores a run for the US Senate in 2008."
True. However, when I think "fly on the wall" approach, I usually think about interesting items which the public don't usually get to see, and which help to show the true nature of a person or situation. It seems their version of this simply means following Al around with a camera and recording nothing of any great value.
One of the main selling points of this DVD for me, was this line. "They look at the (unsuccessful) lawsuit Fox News filed against him for swiping their tagline." I would have loved to have seen the true story behind this, however it was simply mentioned, not discussed at length.
Also, "and his dust-ups with Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Michael Medved, and Bill O'Reilly, who describes him as a vile human being." Disappointed again. Anyone who is a fan of Al, or indeed a fan of the other players mentioned, would already know about the fueding. Although I learnt nothing new, it confirmed to me that O'Reilly and Hannity are annoying, insignificant pests, and that Coulter indeed belongs in an institution. I was reminded a couple of times during this film how disturbed Coulter is. If she was not a 'long legged blonde', would anyone even listen to her?
Although warned in the review, "... there isn't a ton of new material here, but this "fair and balanced" profile represents an entertaining introduction to a multi-talented individual." I was still disappointed. Not so much at the lack of new material, but really at the lack of anything.
24 hours later and I am still waiting for a light bulb to shine over my head, and to realise what I have missed. So far, nothing.
Keep up the great work Al, I'll forgive you for this one.
The Buddy Hackett joke was the high point for me, but his deconstruction Brit Hume's lying abuse of statistics for some high-schoolers is a wonderful illustration of why an educated electorate is necessary for a functioning democracy.
A political aside: as a non-American, I have no trouble in recognizing that the invasion of Iraq is "the supreme war crime", as unprovoked wars of aggression were described by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, and am always amused and a little dismayed at how this fact is always outside the acceptable limits of opposition to the current Occupation, even among "liberal" Americans like Franken. Political expediency, I suppose.
Franken's fans will enjoy this light-weight documentary and get a few chuckles from it. It's a user-friendly introduction to the man for those who don't know him. People who don't understand the term "oxymoron", particularly as it applies to Fox News, will hate it and those looking for an in-depth examination of Franken's politics, the nature of his Senate run or the travails of Air America radio will find nothing of substance.
I also appreciate his emotional honesty. When he's angry, it's a righteous indignation. And he doesn't mask his sorrow when speaking about the loss of his father, or facing the re-election of Bush in 2004.
Few people in politics or show business will let a camera into their lives during such vulnerable moments. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ
Franken's book Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot was a desperately needed counter-shot to the PR machine that is Limbaugh. And his tireless touring for that book, and the books that have followed, have lifted the spirits of many liberals who were feeling isolated by the Wizards of our corporate media Oz. Manufacturing Consent - Noam Chomsky and the Media Franken has also endured all sorts of challenges, endless flak from the right-wing lynch mob, the near collapse of Air America, the loss of his friend Paul Wellstone, criticism from centrist liberals who think he's too radical, criticism from radicals who think he's too liberal, among other trials and tribulations. But Al is indefatigable. It seems as though he has an inner "Stuart Smalley" reassuring him that he is "good enough, and smart enough, and that people like him."
I like him, and I liked "God Spoke" a lot, and how it ended on the promising note of his campaign for Senate in Minnesota. It would be great if he won, he could lighten things up a bit among all those corporate suits pretending to be the people's representatives.
Hostile Takeover: How Big Money and Corruption Conquered Our Government--And How We Take It Back
If he doesn't win, he'll no doubt rebound with another book of truth and jokes, or another radio program, or any number of things that this dedicated public citizen can apply himself to.
In the meantime, I'm going to send him a donation for his current campaign. It's the least I can do for all the laughs and all the insight he has provided me.
Did he win? We'll just have to wait for part two to find out!
Along with most Dan Aykroyd sketches my favorite segment on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE was "The Franken and Davis Show," featuring Franken and the late Tom Davis. Of all the S.N.L. skits that became movies, Franken's funny and heartwarming STUART SAVES HIS FAMILY is the best I've seen.
The Al Franken book LIES AND THE LYING LIARS WHO TELL THEM, which exposes the Republican noise machine, "Saved my life," according to someone who told me she started reading it after a distressing day on the job and laughed so much she was able to get the night's sleep she thought she would miss.
Al Franken was the cornerstone of Air America radio, where his talent lost no punch in the theater of the mind. As a bonus, I discovered Thom Hartmann, who replaced Franken when he left to run for the Senate and has become one of my favorite talk show hosts.
Some of the above is in AL FRANKEN: GOD SPOKE and some isn't. I realize I'm reviewing Al Franken's career as much as this documentary but the film ties it together neatly for me because watching it, I realize the man's done everything he's tried well. How many others can claim success as an actor, author, radio commentator and politician? (Okay, I ruined the surprise of part two if it's ever made; Al Franken won the election!)