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Recount

Kevin Spacey , Bob Balaban , Jay Roach    Unrated   DVD

Price: CDN$ 9.95 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Recount

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  71 reviews
48 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Every Vote Counts June 4 2008
By Chris Pandolfi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
What exactly went on behind the scenes of the 2000 election voting disaster, the one that decided the fates of Al Gore and George W. Bush? The HBO film "Recount" gives what I believe to be a fair representation of an historical event, which is ironic since the recount process put the very concept of fairness under intense scrutiny. We obviously all have an opinion on who rightfully won the presidency eight years ago, but I'm not here to debate who was right and who was wrong; I wasn't even old enough to vote back in the year 2000. I'm only here to review a movie. Yes, it tackles a political subject, but that doesn't mean it takes a definite political stance--generally speaking, each side has equal say, and not surprisingly, each side makes valid and not-so-valid points. Writer Danny Strong deserves a lot of praise, not only for showing both sides of the political spectrum, but also for not forcing us to agree with any side in particular.

I have no doubt the recount was more exhausting for those running the campaigns, simply because they were doing all the hard work; both candidates did nothing more than wait for the end result. Overseeing much of Gore's campaign was his former Chief of Staff, Ron Klain (Kevin Spacey), a loyal Democrat embittered after being replaced, first by Tony Coelho, then by Bill Daley (Mitch Pileggi). On election day--November 7--the Gore team gets word of a problem in Palm Beach County, Florida: a number of voters, confused by the ballot voting system, felt they had accidentally voted for Independent Pat Buchanan. This led to a number of TV networks receiving differing poll numbers by the end of the day, some confirming Gore's victory, others confirming Bush's. Hours of retractions and projections paved the way for a statewide machine recount, which meant that Gore was not yet willing to concede.

But problems arose with the machine recounts, mostly the fact that most voting centers were not willing to run the ballots through the machines a second time. They only re-tabulated the results saved on the machines' memory cards. At a certain point, machine recounts no longer seemed viable because of chads, those infamous bits of paper punched out of voting ballots. If the chad was left hanging, the machine could potentially push it back into the hole and read it as a non-vote. The same would be true of a dimpled chad (a chad not punched all the way through). Democratic strategists opted for a hand recount, believing it would more accurately reveal the voters' intentions. Klain and his team demanded the ballots be recounted in the four Florida counties likely to have voted Democratic: Broward, Miami-Dade, Volusa, and Palm Beach.

This set into motion an absolute legal nightmare. Secretary of State Katherine Harris (Laura Dern)--a staunch Bush supporter--immediately oversaw the certification process for the recount, refusing to extend the November 14 deadline despite the need for more time. With the help of former Secretary of State James Baker (Tom Wilkinson), Harris and her Republican advisors announced that hand recounts were not allowed, thus suspending the entire recount process. It wasn't long before the Democrats discovered something interesting: according to Texas law--signed by Bush when he was Governor--hand recounts are preferred over machine recounts, and a dimpled chad does count as a vote. But this begs the question: Why would an out-of-state law have any bearing on the Florida recount, even if it was signed by the potential President Elect?

And what about military ballots? Should they have counted at all? Keep in mind that they weren't given postmarks, signatures, or dates, meaning there was no way to prove they had been sent in before the deadline. Klain's attempts to keep these ballots out of the recount were thwarted as soon as Joseph Lieberman, Gore's running mate, publicly insisted that they be counted; at that point, it seemed less and less likely that Gore would win the election. Even when an African American pastor came forward as part of a voter purge list (simply for having a similar name to a convicted felon), little could be done to stop the inevitable. Never mind the fact that the list contained 20,000 illegal rejections, half of which were from the black population; the U.S. Supreme Court still decided to order a stay of Florida's undercounted ballots.

Of course, there has to be that final moment when Gore quotes a wise man: "I have to end this war when I know I can't win." He says this to Klain over the phone, officially backing down and letting Bush have the presidency. It's a somber moment to be sure, although I'm hard pressed to say that the entire point of "Recount" was for the audience to mourn Gore's loss and condemn Bush's victory. For the most part, the film's liberal and conservative perspectives are nicely balanced. In one scene, for example, Warren Christopher (John Hurt) says, "There's no shame in placing country above party," and that's a little too pacifistic for Klain's taste. Indeed, Christopher took the path of least resistance during the early stages of the recount, and he left before anything was resolved. By the time a resolution is reached, Michael Whouley (Denis Leary) walks with Klain and asks, "If W had asked for a recount, would the Supreme Court have stopped it?" What a thought-provoking question. If only it could be answered.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recount: a historical re-enactment worth a re-watch June 23 2008
By Vaishali - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Like the " movie Titanic" we all know how this one is going to end. But don't let that stop you from watching Recount. Spacey, as always, delivers a believable and realistic performance. His presence somehow demands your attention. Laura Dern is completely transformed and becomes Kathleen Harris, the Florida Secretary of State. Her performance is by far the best.

There are details and personality involvements that even the most politically active person was probably not aware of that the production reveals, making it worth your time and attention. No matter how many hours you watched CNN when this historical drama unfolded, you will learn things about the Florida recount that you did not know.

If you are a history buff, you will want to add this to your collection. It is right up there with "Missiles of October."
20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recount Counts June 23 2008
By Elliot Malach - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
You can count on anything Kevin Spacey does as great, but the big surprise in this movie was Laura Dern playing Katherine Harris. She was outstanding as the Florida Secretary of State.

The movie does a great job of showing what went on behind the scenes, including the strategies of both sides, that led to the final outcome. (I guess I don't need to worry about disclosing the ending.)

If you watch this movie and still think we live in a democratic country, you need to see it again.
12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Want the Truth? Read the NY Times Article March 29 2012
By Bill Bailey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
"Recount" is an interesting movie, but more fantasy than reality. If you want to know what really happened, read the New York Times article: "Study of Disputed Florida Ballots Finds Justices Did Not Cast the Deciding Vote" by FORD FESSENDEN and JOHN M. BRODER, Published: November 12, 2001

"A comprehensive review of the uncounted Florida ballots from last year's presidential election reveals that George W. Bush would have won even if the United States Supreme Court had allowed the statewide manual recount of the votes that the Florida Supreme Court had ordered to go forward.

Contrary to what many partisans of former Vice President Al Gore have charged, the United States Supreme Court did not award an election to Mr. Bush that otherwise would have been won by Mr. Gore. A close examination of the ballots found that Mr. Bush would have retained a slender margin over Mr. Gore if the Florida court's order to recount more than 43,000 ballots had not been reversed by the United States Supreme Court."

... The article goes on to explain ...
"The media consortium included The Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Tribune Company, The Washington Post , The Associated Press, The St. Petersburg Times, The Palm Beach Post and CNN. The group hired the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago in January to examine the ballots."
...
"The consortium asked all 67 counties what standard they would have used and what ballots they would have manually recounted. Combining that information with the detailed ballot examination found that Mr. Bush would have won the election, by 493 votes if two of the three coders agreed on what was on the ballot; by 389 counting only those ballots on which all three agreed."

Excerpts above are from the article that you can find on the New York Times website. Just enter "November 12, 2001" in their search box. By the way: they did manage to create some scenerios where Gore could have won, but you can judge those for yourself. As with all Hollywood, we are invited to suspend reality and enjoy this movie. Afterwards, if the movie motivates you learn more, read the article. Discuss it with someone who might disagree with you, and let's all work for better elections and better government.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Watch it just for Laura Dern alone! May 17 2009
By Alan Starr - Published on Amazon.com
HBO movie about the Florida voting recount in the 2000 presidential election. Especially hard to watch if you're a Democrat, it stirs up frustrations that you thought you had long buried and forgotten. Given the apparent dryness of the material, it's surprising how well this zips along, and with a good balance of comedy and drama. Special marks to Laura Dern for her incredible portrayal of Katherine Harris!

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