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Bush's Brain

Reviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 03/16/04 07:20:47

"Okay, I'm the key demographic, but 2000 Texans stood and applauded - loudly"
4 stars (Worth A Look)

Yeah, yeah, you've heard it all before. George Bush sucks, George Bush is a dope, George Bush is owned by religious groups and the oil companies, throw a rock at any five documentaries this year and you'll hit three movies that follow this political tilt. That could either mean documentary filmmakers are all rabid lefties, or it could mean that people who do research for a living have no trouble finding things about George Bush that need exposing. And the folks behind Bush's Brain have PLENTY of that.

Karl Rove could almost have 'evil villain' music playing behind him as he walks down the street. A bespectacled career political geek with a record of having stomped, slashed and burned the bodies of any and all who have opposed him, Rove is the guy who turned a draft-dodging, non-intellectual, failed Texas oil man into a President. He's the guy that pulls the strings, that decides policy, that threatens journalists and delivers the payback when payback is required.

But most people don't know who Karl Rove is. They assume George Bush makes the decisions and writes the speeches and only wants what is good for his country.... spend an hour and a half with Bush's Brain and that safe little cloudland will be shot down in a hurry.

Michael Paradies Shoob and Joseph Mealey have gone deep into the research archives and put together a devastating portrait of the man who pulls the strings in the White House, from his early days working with George Bush Sr, to his current place as the most hated backroom political man in recent history. The directors paint a picture of a man obsessed with getting to the top, rules or no rules, who will not allow himself to be stopped by conscience, ethics or the law.

When a CIA operative was 'outed' last year because her husband suggested the White House had ovverstated the case regarding the potnential of African nations to sell Iraq uranium, the eyes of all who know him were turned straight to Karl Rove. But it's only when you see his past history of leaks (which resulted in him being fired by the Reagan government), it begins to look like an open/shut case that Rove was guilty here too.

Bush's Brain is not about bipartisan sniping. There's very little in defense of Rove offered on the screen here, but that may well be because just about everyone in his history seems to have developed a healthy contempt for the way the man does business - his dirty campaign tricks, his backroom backstabbing, his manipulation and deception.

Even those who have previously considered themselves friends and supporters of Rove over the years are interviewed here and have precious little positive to say about the man. And what makes that really scary is that he makes the decisions for the guy Amercians voted for.

Or rather, didn't vote for.

Bush's Brain is, in pure documentary terms, not a great work. The content is riveting, devastating and scary, but the artistry behind it isn't the high grade standard that will get it seen by a wide audience. The music is ordinary, the film runs long, and it does jump about a lot. Which is a shame, because you get the impression that if the American people saw the film en masse, there would be open revolt.

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