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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


Directed by Warren Beatty
20th Century Fox 05/98 DVD/VHS Feature Film
R - language, sexuality, violence

Politics in America today appears to be so banal and corrupt that it defies reasonable analysis. Humor and exaggeration are the only ways to deal with it. Following in the wake of Wag the Dog and Primary Colors comes this outrageous, over-the-top black comedy produced, directed, and cowritten by Warren Beatty. It is a frontal attack on two of the most egregious problems in U.S. politics — racism and campaign financing.

In a deep funk on the eve of the 1996 California primary, Senator Jay Bulworth (Warren Beatty) takes out a $10 million insurance policy along with a hit contract on himself. His impending death gives him the freedom he hasn't felt since the Kennedy era. Bulworth speaks out against racial discrimination, class warfare, and mediocrity, first before a group of African Americans in a church and then before industry moguls in Beverly Hills. Enchanted by Nina (Halle Berry), an African American who seems to respect his frankness, he visits a dance club with her and eventually winds up at her family's home in the ghetto. Much to the dismay of his campaign manager (Oliver Platt), Bulworth starts using rap in all of his media appearances.

A homeless soothsayer (Amiri Baraka) knows that the senator has chosen to be "a spirit and not a ghost." It's a dangerous vocation. Bulworth is a funny, infuriating, exuberant, crazy, and prophetic movie.


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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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