Best of all, he has done it not with a lecture, but with an incoherent, nearly delirious humor.

BULWORTH

A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.


Warren Beatty's timing is exquisite. He has written and directed "Bulworth" at just the moment the American citizenry doesn't believe a word of the silken lies that flow from the mouths of politicians, corporations, entertainment moguls, or the media.

As Senator Jay Billington Bulworth, Beatty sits at his desk weeping in despair at his TV image reciting the litany, "We stand at the doorstep of a new millennium." As he uses his zapper to repeat the empty phrase relentlessly, we shiver in recognition at the sickening sameness and hollow hypocrisy of contemporary politics. Bulworth makes a deal with a slimy insurance lobbyist: in return for his vote on a pending bill, the lobbyist will give him a life insurance policy for $10 million payable to his daughter. Bulworth then buys a contract on his own life from an underworld slime. The senator wants out.

Now free to speak the truth, Bulworth dives headlong into the smoldering racial divide where he finds the medium for his message--rap lyrics. Coming out first in an African-American church in South Central Los Angeles, he explains why politicians never deliver on their promises to the black community: "You don't give money to my campaign." His eye is caught by the lollipop-sucking Nina (Halle Berry), who responds and leads him into the black community, where the cover is ripped off the racial situation today's politicians so conveniently ignore.

Bulworth, now giddy in his new enthusiasm, emerges periodically from his prolonged collapse to skewer his targets. To Jewish entertainment moguls he says, "They always put the big Jews on my schedule." He startles a plain vanilla church congregation into silence, and rips the insurance lobby: "The reason the healthcare industry is so profitable is they get 24 cents of every dollar." His staff aides are the morally neutered twenty-something spin doctors we have to endure on the nightly news. In the otherwise deadly dull campaign, the press now has its story: Bulworth reborn as a rapper. In a steady stream of lyric commentary, he paints a grotesque picture of today's interlocking power blocs dedicated to enriching themselves and deceiving the public. He peppers us with images of news commentators whose salaries are paid by the entertainment giants who own the networks. National life has become a game of "Let's make a deal." People are irrelevant.

Beatty made "Reds" seventeen years ago at a time when it offended the prevailing fear of communism. This man pulls no punches, and once again, he's mad. He holds our heads under the foul water of American politics, letting us up only to consider another ugly piece of the national puzzle. He yanks us from the political passivity that has become our only refuge and forces us to become alive again in anger. Best of all, he has done it not with a lecture, but with an incoherent, nearly delirious humor. And by the way, white men can't rap.


Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 488
Studio : 20th Century Fox
Rating : R
Running Time: 1h47m


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