Wednesday, January 17, 2018

In Greg Barker's THE FINAL YEAR, we walk down a memory lane to which we weren't privy

The good news about THE FINAL YEAR, a new documentary by Greg Barker about, yes, a portion of the final year of the Obama administration, is that it is not, as one might have suspected, complete hagiography. Oh, it's hagiographic enough, but what it shows us of the administration, in particular what we see and learn about two important people in that administration -- Samantha Power, United States Ambassador to the United Nations from 2013 to 2017, and former White House staff member Ben Rhodes -- is enough to make the movie worth viewing.

TrustMovies must admit that he was and is no fan of President Obama. Although I was thrilled to see a Black (well, mixed race) President elected in the USA, I was even more disappointed to see that the President-elect refused to go after Wall Street and the Banking industry, after the melt- down they caused, not to mention his refusal to prosecute the lying and venal former administration that got into into our seemingly eternal mid-east wars via outright lying, and instead went after whistle-blowers like a rabid dog. Sure, Obama-care was a small step in the right direction, but only a mere sop to real progressives.

Mr. Barker, shown above, knows how and what to film, and does this professionally, and what his documentary shows us best is the mind-set and actions of these two administration buoys: Mr. Rhodes (below) and Ms Power (shown with Obama, further below).

As we watch and listen to Rhodes and begin to understand his thinking on a number of state matters, we can also better understand what he and Obama had in common and why they agreed on so many important subjects. Rhodes, as is Obama, proves intelligent and generally perspicacious, though the movie allows us to see and hear things about only certain subjects. It would have been even more interesting to discover what and why these two have against government whistle-blowers and how this fits into Obama's claim of wanting "transparency." Well, good luck with that.

We're on much firmer ground with Ms Power, as we view her traveling around the world and trying (what certainly seem like her best) to provide real aid to the downtrodden. When she tells us how she and her President did not always agree about how and why to proceed with this, we can only shake our heads in understanding tinged with quite a bit of disappointment.

I wish that Mr. Barker had occasionally come up with better visuals instead of simply and ridiculously showing us Obama's literal words on-screen as the ex-President is speaking them. In general, however, the film moves along at a sprightly pace with enough varied and interesting situations to keep us alert and watching.

Toward the end, as the 2016 election approaches and then occurs, we see that the administration -- just as so many of the rest of us "grunts" -- was shocked and appalled at the outcome. And whatever sins for which the Obama administration must answer, I suspect they will pale absolutely against what our current and clearly mentally unstable leader will leave us. Let's just hope that Mr. Rhodes' prediction -- that we'll need to wait perhaps another 20 years before we'll see the good that has come out of all this -- proves true.  Otherwise....

From Magnolia Pictures and running 90 minutes, The Final Year, opens in a number of cities around the country this Friday, January 19. Here in South Florida, you can see it at the O Cinema Miami Beach. Wherever you may reside, click here to find the theater(s) nearest you.

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