Monday, May 26, 2008

What I'm Watching - HBO's Recount

HBO is really on a roll right now (though, I guess the question is, when are they not?). After the incredibly good John Adams mini-series, HBO took a look at a much more recent period in our political history, the Florida recount which decided the 2000 Presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore.

I'll always remember that night. The satisfaction when the networks called Florida for Gore. The bewilderment when they took it back. The frustration when it looked like Bush was pulling ahead for good. I remember late into the night, continually refreshing's election site, looking at the county-by-county returns as they came in, in real-time, keeping track of Bush and Gore's votes (and the changes as new votes were reported) on a blank piece of printer paper next to my computer. I stayed up as long as I could that night, waiting for word on who won the election. And the country stayed waiting a lot longer than that. If I end up working in politics one day (or, perhaps a better word is when) I'll probably look back on that night, and the night I found out I passed the Bar Exam (where instead of going out and celebrating, I was watching MSNBC's coverage of the Indiana and North Carolina Democratic Primaries until after 1:00 a.m. waiting for results from Gary, Indiana to come in to see if Barack Obama had swept the night, and swept out Hillary Clinton from the Democratic nomination fight) as nights where it was clearest to me that more than sports and more than almost anything else, politics was what was in my blood.

HBO's Recount, staring the great Kevin Spacey as Al Gore's former Chief of Staff and Florida recount, premiered tonight, and it captured the tension, and the spectacle, and the over-the-top nature of the characters and caricatures which made up the Florida recount. Despite knowing how it was going to end (as my buddy Dave, who was watching the movie pointed out, the movie was like watching 'Titanic,' we all knew the unfortunate fate awaiting the Gore team in the end) the movie was full of tension and great performances. Tom Wilkinson, who was was exceptional as Benjamin Franklin in the John Adams miniseries was equally as brilliant in Recount as George W. Bush's Recount leader, James Baker. And Laura Dern disappeared into her role as Katherine Harris, which may be the biggest compliment you can pay an actor or actress. She completely became Kathrine Harris, and played her perfectly. The rest of the cast was phenomenal as well.

And while the movie may have had a slight Democratic slant (the main character, after all, was Al Gore's former Chief of Staff), it was fair to the story I thought, and presented both sides. Some of the moments were over the top, but so was the real life recount. HBO has done another great job with another terrific cast, and if you have a chance to catch what I'm sure will be the first of many re showings Monday night at 9:00, check it out. Especially with another close election upcoming (and another between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton which won't seem to end) we cannot forget about the lessons of the past, and through HBO's Recount, we never will.

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