The Reagan Show Screen 9 articles

The Reagan Show


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  • By accident or, some would say, design, that Reagan stagecraft was the defense shield covering up a highly conservative agenda that emboldened and enriched the military, industry, finance, and intelligence sectors in ways that have never been reversed. The Reagan Show, while imparting irony, doesn’t help reveal the enormity of that era.

  • At times an idea threatens to form up — the filmmakers seem to want to suggest that Reagan’s actorly craft proved instrumental to negotiations with the Soviets — but the video history lesson barrels right over it. I appreciate that the film reminds the world that conservative hardliners opposed Reagan and Gorbachev’s disarmament treaty, but The Reagan Show milks the treaty’s last-minute Senate ratification for climactic drama, not letting on that the vote was never truly in doubt.

  • The drollest bits are simply the behind-the-scenes, fly-on-the-wall beats captured by the man's own White House Television Office.

  • Three documentaries [at Tribeca] intersect to evoke a single arc of American injustice that has not merely gone unredressed but been defended and perpetuated. Each one usefully and engagingly displays a crucial facet of the backstory to the current misrule in the U.S... [Velez and Pettengill's film] shows a President with little grasp of complexity, who declares his desire to “make America great again,” and whose oblivious and narcissistic nostalgia preserved the unquestioned reign of white men.

  • The documentary is an insightful portrait of the former American president and the world that he shaped.

  • At a time when sharp ideological stances are annoyingly ubiquitous, this film’s lack of one is refreshing. But my commendation comes with a caveat for people who may have slept through the Reagan presidency, or those too young to remember it. While the film does offer a chronicle of Reagan’s eight years in office, it focuses mainly on one aspect of that history. Much is left out.

  • The film demonstrates clearly that fakery, manipulation and ad hominem politics in the TV age are nothing new. (Nancy interrupts a press conference and a difficult question by presenting Ronald with a birthday cake.) As Bush 88 takes to the stage at the end of this fascinating documentary, viewers can console themselves with the clear fact that while it seems so naive now, the same “Show” is still playing, only with different actors. And we’re still here, despite it all.

  • This film could, of course, never satisfy everyone; perhaps it speaks to just how fascinating a window into Reagan it provides that yo keep wanting more than it can possibly deliver by the time its credits unfurl. While the all-archival marvel could have used more Iran-Contra and John Hinckley, it was as clever and breathtaking a look at the performative aspects of our politics as any film made in recent memory, and perhaps ever; it deserves a big audience when CNN airs it in the fall.

  • Not just an entertaining and enlightening blast from the past; it’s a sobering reminder that however bad we thought things were, we had no idea how much worse they could become.

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