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Keep america great!!!
A left-leaning film made by a left-leaning filmmaker for a left-leaning audience, which doesn't really tell us anything we didn't already know
Taking as its subject Steve Bannon, the so-called "Kingmaker" behind Donald Trump's 2016 election victory, Alison Klayman's documentary The Brink attempts to portray and engage with the controversial alt-right figure without crossing the line into hagiography. Seeing himself as spearheading a global alt-right populist movement (called The Movement), Bannon is a heroic truth-teller to some, a personification of a hateful and racist ideology to others, in whose worldview the only good American is a white Christian heterosexual American. And whilst The Brink is perfectly adequate as a documentary, it's limited by its identity as a left-leaning film made by a left-leaning filmmaker for a left-leaning audience. Very few people on the right will see it, and those that do will find nothing therein to change their minds about him.
The film begins in August 2017, a few weeks after Bannon was fired from the White House in the wake of the Unite the Right rally, and Klayman traces his disastrous endorsement of Roy Moore, the publication of Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, the subsequent break with Trump due to comments in the book, his time in Europe, and his campaigning during the 2018 midterms. She focuses on his European activities, where his aim is to unify and centralise the various right-wing populist groups.
Bannon is at pains throughout the film to stress that neither he nor Trump are racists. In this vein, at a fundraiser early in the film, Bannon states that Trump doesn't care about skin colour, religion, or sexuality, he "cares only that you're a citizen of the United States of America". Seeing the film two days after Trump told three non-Caucasian American-born senators and one non-Caucasian naturalised American senator to "go back where you came from", these words had some considerable unintended irony.
Klayman shoots the film in a cinéma vérité fly-on-the-wall style, letting events play out without really commenting on them (although she does question Bannon directly a couple of times), allowing some of Bannon's more outrageous comments to speak for themselves. For example, at a rally in Hungary, he states that The Movement will be built on "old school Christian democracy rooted in the European tradition" (so plenty of room for Muslims); he asserts that "divine providence is about human action" (unaware of the oxymoron); and in perhaps his most perplexing claim, he refers to China, Iran, and Turkey as the "new Axis".
In terms of challenging Bannon, Klayman's editing is very interesting. For example, she intercuts news reports on Cesar Sayoc and the Tree of Life shooting with Bannon arguing that he's not racist. Later, she intercuts scenes of migrants being attacked in Germany with Bannon's five-star hotel meetings with right-wing politicians. In another scene, when he insists that he would never take any non-American money, she cuts to him meeting Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui. Most powerfully, after the disastrous 2018 midterms, over scenes of Bannon trying to figure out what went wrong, Klayman plays an audio montage of newly-elected Democrat women condemning the kind of hatred upon which he thrives.
For all that, however, the film has significant flaws. Most egregiously, Klayman assumes her audience is in total agreement with her – that Bannon is a dangerous purveyor of hatred and prejudice. Because of this, the documentary remains all surface; she doesn't offer a deep dive into his psychology because why would she when the audience already thinks like her? In this sense, it's hard to know what anyone will glean from the film; the very few on the right who see it, will read it as more evidence of a left-leaning elitist media determined to crush the right; those on the left will simply have their opinions reaffirmed.
With this in mind, it's hard to pinpoint what Klayman accomplishes with the film – it doesn't tell us anything about Bannon we didn't already know and it doesn't reveal much about his thought processes or private ideology. In the same sense, it isn't going to change anyone's way of thinking. So what was the point? Why give such a hateful and dangerous individual so much attention when you don't have anything in mind other than having your audience agree with you? At best, the film suggests that he's a good example of the banality of evil – Klayman is trying to demystify him, painting him as a slick used car salesman, successfully selling cars he knows are defective. But really, did he actually need demystifying?
The Brink is a perfectly watchable film, but so too is it perfectly forgettable, which, given the subject and the extraordinary access, is hugely disappointing. Indeed, as it ended, the only thought I had in my head was "Bannon would have loved that". Which is not exactly a good thing.
The Brink is an interesting yet disturbing documentary that leaves the viewer feeling passionate but angered about the state of our country. It gives young people ideas about how not to behave, especially if you are a public figure. The Brink gives an inside look at all the intimate details of the brain of a political figure and shows just how crazy life can be for them. Although I do think that they could've done a better job on some certain aspects, I left the theatre feeling ultimately very disgusted, which I believe was the intent of the filmmakers.
The Brink is a documentary film that follows Steve Bannon, the founder of Breitbart News and Donald Trump's ex-chief strategist. It chronicles his life after the 2016 election and his attempts to form a group called "The Movement," which is a nationalist movement that involves a lot of world leaders and billionaires who have primarily conservative views (not to mention are extremely racist and anti-semetic). Bannon is portrayed throughout the film as being determined and dedicated, but those qualities are misguided as he is not advocating for the good of the people.
The Brink does a decent job of showcasing what a creep and how dimwitted Steve Bannon is. It catches him reusing the same joke over and over again ("a rose between two thorns") and hosting gatherings for The Movement filled with old white people. Most of these gatherings were fairly small, the majority of them consisting of around forty to fifty people or less. Bannon's attempts to make The Movement happen, although arguably seeming successful, appear rather pathetic if you look deeper into it. The film captured Bannon's life and business affairs but I feel as though it pandered to him a little bit. The filmmakers could've done a better job of exposing him and making him seem more disgusting. Even though the film portrayed him in a negative light, I don't feel like it was enough. That said, there were some funny bits within the film that I did enjoy. It was also captivating, watching someone be so outwardly awful and idiotic on camera.
I would give The Brink 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 14 to 18. Kids younger than that may not understand it or find it boring. There is also some language, used by Bannon, that may not be suitable for younger audiences. The Brink might not have done the best job of portraying Steve Bannon's story and proving their point, but I was captivated by it and ultimately learned a lot about not only Bannon, but what it means to be a decent American. This film opens in theaters March 29, 2019 so look for it.
Reviewed by Ella L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic. For more reviews by youth, visit kidsfirst dot org.
More lefty Liberal Bullshit, Lets now discuss every mass shooters since 2008 all Democrats Bye Bye
Bannon is a fearless hero who stands for economic nationalism. Illegal immigration and corporate outsourcing are two of the biggest threats to the USA. As Trump says, No open borders - let people in by merit. The conservative end result is more logical and responsible to our citizens. It wasn't long ago when our labor unions opposed illegal immigration as well.
Great new movie.
Bannon: evil genius with lots of charm