Tuesday, June 28, 2011

THE UNDEFEATED IS A WINNER

Review by Kevin Scholla - June 22, 2011 New York City

We still don't know whether Sarah Palin will run for president in 2012, but if she does, The Undefeated may just be her secret weapon. The film chronicles Palin's entry into the world of politics, her time as a mayor and a governor, her run for the vice presidency, and the remarkable reactions she continues to draw from The Right, The Left, and seemingly everyone in between.

Filmmaker Steve Bannon kicks things off with a bang: Palin being introduced as John McCain's running mate, followed by a sonic boom: a compilation of some of the worst, visceral, and down right weird attacks thrown at Palin from Hollywood blabber mouths. Along with the celebrities using profanity that would make a truck driver blush, there's also some eye opening shots of protesters dressed in anti-Palin gear that will have to be edited out for sure once this film hits theaters nationwide if The Undefeated is going to avoid an X-rating. These opening salvos hurled at Palin set the tone for the film. It shows clearly how she's been portrayed by the left-wing entertainment industry and by all of the mouth breathers who take time away from Mom's basement every once in awhile to scream and yell about a woman who's done nothing to them personally. Bannon then masterfully and creatively counters these off putting assaults with a little thing known as...the truth.

Governor Palin went almost instantly from a diligent, hardworking, successful, wildly popular governor in Alaska to a woman vilified by the national media and lefties nationwide. Alarming shots of a mannequin dressed as Palin hanging by a noose, Facebook pages wishing death on her, and hateful insults fired at her family members (kids included) really hammers home just how constant and nasty the assault on Palin has been. It leaves the viewer asking 'why?'. Bannon's examination of Palin's remarkable accomplishments only intensifies the head scratching.

Members of Palin's inner circle speak throughout the better part of the film. Each one standing in front of a background as white as an Alaskan snowfall. These are people who have played a major role in Palin's private and/or political life. They are believable and forthright. Meghan Stapleton, Palin's former senior advisor and spokeswoman is particularly compelling. Her candor about situations and how things really unfolded is refreshing. Stapleton's impeccable ability to convey a story really takes the viewer right into the thick of the Palin administration. Kristan Cole is another star of the piece. A longtime friend of Palin, Cole captures the personal side of her buddy Sarah. She speaks of a woman who's genuine and loyal. Someone who thinks of others first and doesn't bow down to pressure. Bannon backs up this character portrait as the film moves on.

Sarah Palin did not participate in the making of The Undefeated. In fact, Bannon never even met her. Her presence in the film however is mighty to say the least. Footage of Palin is used throughout. Still shots of her as a young girl, home movies of basketball games and get togethers, sound of Palin from her Going Rogue audio book, and several campaign events and speeches, including her coming out party at the 2008 Republican National Convention. Before Palin's splash on the national scene is looked at though, her historic feats to benefit The Last Frontier take center stage.

The Exxon Valdez oil spill is what inspired Sarah Palin to jump into politics and eventually be elected as Mayor of Wasilla. Fittingly one of the most powerful parts of The Undefeated focuses on oil and all that comes with it. When a powerful, intimidating to most, oil exec approaches Palin at an airport and basically gets in her face and tells her to back off, Palin it is recounted, simply says nothing and stares him down. The fat cat walks away knowing this woman meant business. A woman who means business is an overriding theme of this movie.

Palin is portrayed as a leader with a spine of steel. Yet, she still remains 'Sarah' to those who knew her when. Her reaction of "Golly" after clinching the GOP nomination for governor and sharing a brief moment with her Democrat opponent is priceless. She blows the whistle on Republicans who are crippling her state while still cooking meals and finding time to pull her daughter's hair into a pony tail. She comes across as God fearing yet fun, intelligent yet self-effacing, well-known yet grounded. A regular person who is looking to serve. Not someone who had anything handed to her. A modern day picture of what the Founding Fathers envisioned.

The most incredible testimony into the character of Sarah Palin is her stunning decision to give up a six figure position because she felt that would be the best move for the state. Sarah and her husband Todd were not wealthy people. Still, she did what was right instead of what was easy. Bannon showcases numerous examples of stories like this that were rarely reported on when Palin was running for Veep. Instead the media focused on her clothes, her accent, and really anything else they could use as a tool to break the Barracuda. Three years later, it is clear they failed.

More government is not the answer. A sentiment thrown around by many pols these days. Governor Palin lives up to the slogan. An eye opening moment comes when Bannon highlights Alaska's massive budget problems. Palin and her staff read the entire budget line for line, cutting along the way, until the spending plan is feasible. A politician that actually reads something word for word before they throw their John Hancock on it? Yes She Did. Perhaps Nancy Pelosi and others should've been informed of this technique when ObamaCare was on the table.

Sarah Palin did not back down from the old boys club of the GOP, or the oil big wigs, or anyone else. Her approach to leadership in Alaska serves as a microcosm of how she would go about things in Washington. In order to be the first commander in chief that wears lipstick (at least that we know of), Palin will certainly need huge support from Independents. The Undefeated captures Palin's 'Drill Baby Drill' mentality, something that should bode well with Indies if she does indeed run. Palin's understanding of energy options and her expertise on the state that holds so much potential in that department is brought to the forefront.

Parts of Palin's near perfect speech at the RNC sent chills through the theater. The clapping and fist pumping shows the exuberance Palinistas felt in 2008 is only stronger today. Her introduction to the world that night showed us a strong, confident conservative who delivered a speech that was pretty much flawless. Another example of something positive Palin has done that has just been brushed aside in favor of fabricated, frivolous attacks. The film also delves into a very important aspect of that 2008 race. Palin helped McCain. She did not hurt him. Folks turned out in droves for every campaign stop Palin was a part of. Supporters chanted, cheered, held up lipstick, and smiled. The governor from the 49th state energized a bid for the White House that was bumbling and stumbling. McCain soared in the polls after adding Palin to the ticket. As she continued to meet America, the numbers got even better for the GOP. With Palin on board McCain surpassed Senator Barack Obama and looked to be in good shape as the stretch drive neared. Then, it was the economy, stupid.

The Lehman Brothers collapse and poor economic announcement after poor economic announcement spelled the end of the line for McCain's final shot at Sixteen-Hundred. The media would like us to believe Sarah Palin brought the campaign down. She did not. She kept it respectable. After watching The Undefeated, you can't help but wonder what would have happened if Palin weren't muzzled by the McCain campaign. She was the one going after Obama's character and associations while McCain basically prefaced every comment on the stump with, paraphrasing here, "I'm great and so is Obama but vote for me." The 1962 Mets had a better strategy for winning than that.

Despite the McCain-Palin ticket coming up short, the nation got to meet a woman that Alaska already knew. While the disgusting low blows continued to pour in from the types who never had a date in high school and currently have a Keith Olbermann poster up in Mom's basement, others rallied behind Mrs. Palin. She is loved by Constitutionalists. She is championed by many who never were politically active before. The Undefeated rightfully credits Palin as a catalyst of the Tea Party movement.

After Obama downed McCain, Sarah Palin headed back to the state she loves. She was eager to get back to work on gubernatorial chores. Instead she was faced with monkey business. Out of nowhere ethics charges galore are thrown Palin's way. The movie shows Palin handling the falsehoods she's accused of with grace. Even though they kept on coming. The media would highlight each charge as a top story. Then each and every time the governor is cleared they'd be silent or bury the decision behind the local Tiddlywinks scores. Palin persevered. Footage shows a leader continuing to go about her business at home and in the governor's office.

The Undefeated stunningly gives us the inside view of just how blood thirsty the press has been. Reporters admittedly saying they were writing slam pieces on Palin. They were intentionally trying to bring her down. They even questioned whether Palin was really pregnant when she was carrying her fifth child! One of the most important revelations to come out of this work is the reason why Palin left the governor's job when she did. The ethics charges and costs that went with them were clobbering Alaska right in the bear skin wallet. Palin recognized this. Again, instead of putting herself first she thought of who she was serving. She did not want to leave the job she loved, but she did because she thought it'd be better for her constituents. A far cry from the 'quitter' spin that is put on her departure by The Left. Palin was getting the Saul Alinsky treatment, so she took the high road and a bridge to somewhere.

Along with Palin's RNC speech the audience also became animated when President Obama appeared on the screen. Raspberries and Bronx cheers rang out in this Big Apple screening room. Free speech. But, there were no vulgarities, no threats of violence, no inappropriate barbs. Simply displeasure from Americans regarding a man's policies. Quite the contrast of how 'people' go after Palin. The strangeness and deep, dark, horrific nature of the vitriol toward Palin is demonstrated very well in the film.

From a cinematography standpoint, Bannon's baby is pretty advanced as well. He mixes in humor, symbolism and some great shots of old time Alaska beautifully. Politics aside, what really stands out as to why The Undefeated is a winner is the way the film gets more and more exciting as it moves along. Two hours seems like 25 minutes. Then the grand finale. A Palin-Reagan crescendo.

Conservative pundits are featured in front of that white backdrop later in the film. Mark Levin and Tammy Bruce really present the Palin phenomenon in plain English. Bruce talks about what drew her, a former liberal, to Palin. It's quite simple really. Palin is the real deal. Levin compares the Tea Party and Palin to the Reagan Revolution.

Not unlike Palin herself, The Undefeated calls out Democrats and Republicans alike. Andrew Breitbart slams the manhood of the GOP men who stand in silence while Palin is ripped apart unfairly and viciously by The Left, Hollywood, and the press. He chastises them for their indifference and lack of action. I couldn't agree more. Breitbart also delivers the best line of the film, saying "She (Palin) refuses to accept the premise of her destruction." Ain't that the truth?

Ronald Reagan was looked at as unelectable when he first came on the scene. We've heard that term bandied about regarding Sarah Palin as well. Bannon does a superb job of comparing Dutch with Sarah. The Undefeated includes super clips of Reagan challenging the establishment, going after reporters and politicians who try to falsify his record, and through it all maintaining a smile and a sense of humor. The film shows The Left's disdain for conservative candidates. True conservatives. Remember how loved John McCain was before he actually sewed up the nomination. Look at the recent love affair with Jon Huntsman. It's the middle of the road Republicans the Dems want to face. The Undefeated is evidence of this.

We don't yet know if Sarah Louise Heath Palin will run for president in 2012, but we do know a lot more about her if she does decide to give it a go. Judging by the portrayal of Palin in The Undefeated coupled with the response from the audience, you'd have to think if she does throw her glasses into the ring she'd have a real chance of grabbing the nomination. Then she'd have to try to make President Obama 'The Defeated'. Impossible? About as impossible as challenging a corrupt system of good ol' boys, passing landmark ethics measures, cutting spending, and being the first ever woman on a GOP ticket, all while raising five children and facing unprecedented attacks on her character and family. Hold on tight. GAME ON.
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