Last Party 2000

Last Party 2000

****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

As the United States steels itself for another presidential parade, who remembers 2000 when the Republican party, under George W Bush, cheated its way to power?

Rebecca Chaiklin and Donovan Leitch's documentary is a sobering reminder of what it feels like to be disenfranchised, young, poor and mute in what many commentators call "a police state." It looks like a film that was made on the hoof, with minimal planning and oodles of enthusiasm, which gives it an acidic edge, as if the propagandists haven't sweetened the mix with set-up scenes, mouthing the homilies of Chianti Marxists, or working from a prepared script.

The actor Philip Seymour Hoffman is a perfect Everyman, not so much a reporter/presenter as an interested observer ("I've always had an aversion to politics"), who can't explain why he cares when someone less fortunate is being treated badly. He is a watcher, not an opinion former, a listener rather than a talker, sympathetic in an amused, ironic way .

There are contradictions everywhere. Teenagers admit they have no interest in voting ("All we do is go to the mall"), while, outside the Republican and Democrat conventions, protesters face serried ranks of armed police. Inside the halls, where delegates behave like groupies, the mood is euphoric, manipulated by balloon glitz glamour, encased in the fakery of showbiz. In the streets, the tear gas and night sticks are out and the voices that will not be heard cry their defiance.

"We have a system of open bribery in this country," a Capitol Hill representative says.

"The only difference between the Democratic party and the Republican party is the velocity with which their knees hit the floor when sponsors come knocking," Tim Robbins says, quoting Ralph Nader.

"In order to retain democracy, we need a revolution every 20 years," someone else adds.

Last Party 2000 exposes the flip side of the freedom message, reminiscent of the civil rights riots of the Sixties, as well as reinforcing what another delegate says, "The two most important things in American politics are money and I can't remember what the second one is."

There is cynicism and commitment in abundance, but, at the end, when the Florida fiasco is as fresh as flies around dung, even the filmmakers are finding it hard to believe.

Reviewed on: 21 Jan 2004
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Philip Seymour Hoffman investigates the American way of politics in the 2000 presidential election.
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