Tuesday, May 22, 2018


I just watched The Final Year, a documentary by Greg Barker.  I believe it was shown theatrically last year, but now it's available on HBO. It follows President Obama's foreign policy team as they try to cement their legacy in the last year of the Obama administration.  It's mostly John Kerry, Samantha Power, Ben Rhodes and Obama himself.

Of course, it's impossible to watch today without being aware of what will happen in the 2016 election.  And, ironically, that's probably the best thing that could have happened to Barker.

Otherwise, he's got a film that takes us backstage to watch how the foreign policy team works.  They narrate their actions, so the film is done in an admiring way.  Which means what little tension there is amounts to wondering if  the rest of the world will be sensible and do what our heroes want.

But then, when Trump wins in an upset, it changes everything.  The characters themselves are stunned.  On the night of the election Rhodes can barely collect himself enough to put together a coherent sentence.

The team now knows that all the work they've done might be for nothing, and is certainly in danger of being reversed.  They try to take a long view, but without this discordant note near the finish line, Barker's movie would be a lot weaker.  An ending where heroic people hand over their office to others who generally agree with them would have been weak.

By the way, my old friend Cass Sunstein shows up.  Samantha Power, his wife, is holding a high-powered get-together to watch the returns.  Sunstein--who also served in the administration--doesn't have any lines, but he seems as gloomy as everyone else.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even liberal law professors want to get laid. He'd probably been looking forward to erection night for the previous eight weeks.

1:59 PM, May 22, 2018  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

Liberal reactions to the 2016 election outcome are some of the most watched clips on YouTube. You are probably right that the election has been a boon to the visibility of of the documentary. I think the results also increased views of the documentary following Mark Halpern through the election cycle (though now that he has been tagged by #metoo, that may be over).

5:43 AM, May 23, 2018  

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