Ouch. I learned two things this morning, there is a documentary on the candidacy of Donald Trump, and John DeFore at The Hollywood Reporter did not like it. The documentary was apparently cut together with scenes from the Showtime hit, The Circus, a political reality show hosted by Bloomberg journalists, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann and Marc McKinnon.
If you’re unfamiliar with the “documentary” series, from their website …
Key characters and events from the individual campaigns are presented in real time, as they are happening. Produced in cooperation with Bloomberg Politics, THE CIRCUS is a non-partisan, never-before-attempted take on one of the most fascinating and consequential elections in modern history.
This is laughable. A Bloomberg production, hosted by Bloomberg journalists and we’re supposed to believe they’re capable of being non-partisan in their approach. Please. I heard about this show’s existence during the election, but since I was living it, I saw no need to watch it unfold as narrated by a bunch of Hillary supporters.
Some stories only have one side, right? Maybe this is why those involved created this feature length film. A chance for the journalists to be the focus of the story one more time, even if no one wants to hear it.
If you recently returned to the U.S. after a year-long Peace Corps stint in a remote village with no electricity or mail service, then Trumped: Inside the Greatest Political Upset of All Time will serve as a reasonable primer on the nightmare you missed.
For everyone else, though, this doc, hastily assembled from footage shot for Showtime’s The Circus, is useful only for masochists wanting to trudge through the muck all over again — or as a way to spend 100 minutes believing you’re politically engaged, while doing absolutely nothing to change the country. Even those who were pleased with the events of Nov. 8 will find it redundant, unless they’re looking for more evidence of the mainstream media’s cluelessness. Though it may well draw some eyeballs on Showtime, this disposable recap (directed by Banks Tarver, Ted Bourne and Mary Robertson) does nothing to fill the need for thoughtful, probing docs about the threats facing our democracy.
So this is not going to be a hit among those still mourning Hillary Clinton’s loss for sure, although DeFore points out a few moments that might be worth catching…
As the tick-tock to Election night heats up, the film becomes less about those running for office and more about the journalists covering them. Even after dark on Nov. 8, Halperin is describing the “kabuki” theater of cable news hosts who have to go on air and pretend not to know what they and Halperin are sure of: Clinton won, and now all that’s left is to predict her cabinet choices.
Now that sounds like something I could watch again. But that’s about it, DeFore rightly predicts that people have election fatigue and it would shock me if this movie gets attention from anyone other than other journalists. It’s not something the public is currently demanding. In fact if DeFore’s review is correct, it sounds like it would just be an exercise in masochism, as he suggests.
Most of what follows is a chronological Greatest Hits of 2016’s primary and general election campaigns: the blistering Romney speech denouncing Trump (reminding Sundancers of Mitt, the kind of political doc that justifies its existence);
Mitt is a documentary that followed, you guessed it, Mitt Romney. That documentary was well received by critics because it offered them a unique look at Mitt, the man beyond the media stereotypes. In other words a side of Mitt that most had never seen before, something that “Trumper” obviously lacks, a fresh perspective. It sounds like “Trumper” is just a tired rehash of the election, with a Bloomberg liberal’s voice over.