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WEINER

SYNOPSIS: The documentary follows Anthony Weiner, a US Democratic Congressman who was on the rise before a 'sexting' scandal forced his humiliating resignation. Two years later, Weiner ran for New York City Mayor, betting that his democratic ideas would trump his indiscretions.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
This is one hulluva documentary, and not because of Anthony Weiner's sexting about his weiner. It's riveting because Weiner allows Josh Kriegman to follow him around and be present for the most intimate and most revealing moments of his campaign to be Mayor of New York. This is after the first scandal - and the second sexting scandal breaks during the campaign.

There is so much to take away from these 96 minutes about the human condition our heads spin. Weiner's wife Huma is like a daughter to Hillary Clinton. So the texture of complexity about her husband's sexting is turbo charged. But what I find fascinating - and it's not unconnected to Clinton - is how the American media feed off the titillating sex angle (no physical contact!), how they pump it and inflate it to be the centre of the ballyhoo as copy fodder, which is reminiscent of Bill Clinton's experience with infidelity. It's the infidelity and lying about it that America finds morally unacceptable - at least in those who run for public office. Outrage, judgmental vitriol and derision occupy every media outlet. To his credit, Weiner take it all on the chin, is remorseful yet defiant, and properly sorry for his wife.

In small glimpses of her silence, a scant glance and a resigned mood, Huma's torment is movingly captured. She, too, stands up to the onslaught and stays supportive.

The documentary is made with an insistent camera and filmmaker Kriegman wants it to be 'fly on the wall' - but sometimes can't help but interpose a question, a question we ourselves may be asking.

The question he asks at the end, why did Weiner let him make this naked doco, is answered with a shrug of the shoulders, as in some provocative movie, pushing the audience to search for the answers in their own head and heart.

Review by Louise Keller:
It's a bit like watching a car crash: you simply can't look away. It is not only due to our curiosity about the sexting scandal in which the prominent US congressman Anthony Weiner is exposed publicly, but his response to humiliation, the relationship with his beautiful, smart wife Huma and his ability to reinvent himself again and again. This is a documentary with everything: scandal, titillation, insight into public life and very personal scrutiny.

The doco begins in July 2010, when Congressman Weiner is being praised by the public and media for his outspoken passionate stance on healthcare. When news of the scandal hits along images of bulging underwear and worse, he goes from hero to zero as he is forced to resign. That is just the beginning, as Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg's fly-on-the-wall film scrutinises Weiner's every move, commencing in 2013 (two years after his resignation), when he decides to run for New York Mayor. The headlines go wild: 'he's got some balls'; 'no perverts'; 'loser'; 'Weiner exposed'; Pop goes the weasel'; 'I'll stick it out'.

I was fascinated by so many aspects of this doco - from Weiner's responses to the media scrutiny to that of his wife Huma, who is without doubt his greatest asset. As one of Hilary Clinton's closest advisors, Huma is no stranger to the political scene and her ability and willingness to deal with every bump in the road is highly commendable. Her beautiful face and body language reveal much about her; there are clearly moments she finds untenable and there is no doubt the marriage suffers enormous strain.

We watch Weiner at home with his wife and baby, at the campaign office and on the road talking to punters and the media. He is not a likeable character but you have to hand it to him, he has a tough hide - or is he so self centred that he welcomes attention of any kind? As for Lisa, the buxom, tattooed black jack dealer from Las Vegas, with whom Weiner shares phone sex, she epitomises the sleazy aspect of the whole sorry affair, lapping up her fifteen minutes of celebrity.

This is a real eye-opener - about human nature, public life and attitudes in general to sex when things go public.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

WEINER (M)
(US, 2016)

CAST: Documentary featuring Anthony Weiner, Huma Abedin, Jordan Zain Weiner, Sydney Leathers, Howard Shore, Amit Bagga, Adam S. Bagga

PRODUCER: Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg

DIRECTOR: Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg

SCRIPT: Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg, Eli B. Despres

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Josh Kriegman

EDITOR: Eli B. Despres

MUSIC: Jeff Beal

RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Madman

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Dendy ACT & Newtown, NSW, Schonell Twin, Qld: July 28, 2016. ACMI Melbourne, Vic: September 1, 2016







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