June 17, 2007

The Trial of Tony Blair: Well, I saw it, and I can't say I was overwhelmed. The actors, particularly the Blogmuse, were terrific (saying "Phoebe Nicholls was superb" is like saying "water is wet," or "the San Antonio Spurs are spirit-crushingly dull"), but the story itself left a lot to be desired. If you intend to make the case that Blair, Bush, Cheney et al., should be held accountable before a legal tribunal for the mendacity in which they took their countries to war, a case which I wholeheartedly endorse, it might make more sense not to make your "villain" the only person in the movie who acts out of a sense of principal and conviction, nor to invest everyone who advocates putting him on trial as motivated only by cynicism. I suppose the filmmakers might respond by saying that the only way a fairy tale notion that a Western leader could actually face what has traditionally been "victor's justice" is for his erstwhile allies to believe that political expediency leaves them with no other choice, but it doesn't do the cause of international law any good when its advocates are portrayed as a bunch of conniving a-holes, and the process itself as little more than a formality before a guilty verdict is imposed.

I also had the impression that a lot of the film had been cut out for its American debut, on BBC America. Like ESPN Classic, BBC America is a cable channel that is inexplicably bad; other than its news broadcasts in the early morning, and the occasional showings of "Little Britain," its programming leaves a lot to be desired. I have the impression that PBS gets dibs on all the really good programs from the U.K., while BBC America gets stuck with reruns of "Footballers' Wives," "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" or what it aired tonight, which ironically wasn't even shown on the BBC in Great Britain, but was instead on the cable off-shoot of Channel Four, a competing network. If BBC America is an attempt to convince Americans that the vast majority of British television is stale and schlocky fare, it is succeeding beyond anyone's wildest dreams.

1 comment:

Erik said...

I thought Robert Lindsay was excellent as well. I wonder if the writers intended to make the Blairs a Macbeth Power Couple, a stereotype, only to be thwarted by the actors, who contrived to give their characters actual human qualities. I believe the original British movie was two hours in length, not 90 minutes (even with ads), and concluded with a Johnny Cash song, not the BritPop drivel we heard last night.