BIFF Review: Crawford

Crawford was the headlining premiere at SXSW this year, and I had a chance to see it at BIFF last night. Here’s the trailer:

In my last semester at NYU I took a history course on the American Revolution, and one of the books we read was The Minutemen and Their World, by Bob Gross, which examines the Age of Independence entirely through the lens of Concord, Mass.   It got to be pretty tedious in parts (“Elm was in sparse supply that season.  The newly propertied yeomen of Concord were forced to construct their fences out of birch for a time.”),  but at the same time provided a fascinating microcosm. The municipal scope and historical minutiae brought the period to life in a way broader texts often fail to do.

With that in mind, I thought Crawford did a good job in the same vein, providing a microcosm for the Bush years through a healthy dose of local flavor.  Imagine The Last Picture Show if Nixon moved to town. Observing the various attitudes of the townsfolk to their presidential neighbor, and how they shift or fail to shift over time, is a visceral reminder of the bitter polarization of ’02-’04, the disillusionment of ’05, and the overall exhaustion in ’06 and beyond.   Sound like fun yet?

It is, actually, especially in such scenes as when an anti-war teen shows off the spot where all the national media outlets broadcast, in front of a symbolic patch of quaint farmland, never panning over to the high school track mere feet away; or when an aging Bush fangirl shows off her 18″ electronic talking Bush statue and comments on the post-9/11 soundbyte it provides, “He’s so down to earth!” At heart this documentary isn’t political, which is good because it wouldn’t work that way. It’s about the people who live in a town with a population of 705 and how they react to the most powerful man in the world moving to their backyard.

Bottom line: if you like Texas, slices of life, or sociological prisms for understanding the psychological fallout of the Bush presidency, this one’s worth a Netflix.

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