Caucus

Directed by AJ Schnack

A film about the 2011-12 Republican race in Iowa by AJ Schnack

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  • ★★★½ review by Joe on Letterboxd

    The great thing about politics from an entertainment standpoint is that even the most mundane/trivial events become elevated to an imagined platform of importance, which is of course a great recipe for comedy. So the funniest parts of Caucus aren't Republicans saying dumb/wrong things (even though most of these people are buffoons even by political standards), but the weird stuff on the periphery, like Michele Bachmann telling a voter she was the last person in her third grade class to learn how to tell time, or the subtle implication that Rick Santorum is doggedly staying in a (seemingly) doomed campaign just for the free food.

    On a more thought-provoking level, the inherently humanizing documentary format made me wonder about questions like "is it possible to be a decent person but a terrible prospect for governance?" That question is best represented by Santorum, who genuinely seems like a nice guy who loves his family and cares deeply about his faith - I'd never vote for him, and the charge that he's a bigot is pretty unambiguously true, but the movie spends enough time with him that you also see his more presentable sides. Politics is the worst possible environment for human complexity, but it seems to find a way to survive anyway.

    This still ends up feeling like junk food, although maybe that's just the inherent nature of political theater. Could have done without the jokey musical cues, though.

  • ★★★½ review by Peter Chu on Letterboxd

    Any film that can make me have some empathy towards Rick Santorum or any other 2012 Republican presidential candidates is a huge win.

  • ★★★★ review by Matthew Lucas on Letterboxd

    Absolutely fascinating account of 2012 Republican caucus in Iowa highlights the intrinsic absurdities of the American political process, and how our government does (or does not) work. Follows such colorful figures as Michelle Bachmann (and her flamboyant husband), Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum (who, by virtue of being the most genuine, emerges as something of a folk hero by the end), and while Schnack remains a mostly impartial observer, it's hard not to read this as an absurdist comedy, as the raucous political theater becomes a self imploding circus of self-aggrandizement.

  • ★★★★ review by Chris Harrop on Letterboxd

    It's a great, up-close look at the nauseatingly hyped "first in the nation" king-making exercises known as the Iowa caucus (and the Ames straw poll and a couple dozen other events), as the potential future leaders of the free world deal with more questions about Mexican freight trucks than you'd ever imagine necessary in any political talk post-NAFTA.

    Surprisingly little actual footage of cacucus night, far too many fake newspaper headline graphics to keep the narrative on track, but still far too much amazing coverage of the American political process to consider it anything less than a valuable documentation of 21st century democracy.

    Marcus Bachmann probably had to change his underpanties after finding out the almond ones, but that's OK, because I bet they're fabulous.... I'll thumb-wrestle you for one!

  • ★★★½ review by Erik Luers on Letterboxd

    My thoughts on the film (as well as an interview I did with the filmmaker) is available here: www.filmlinc.com/daily/entry/caucus-aj-schnack-michele-bachmann-rick-perry-mitt-romney-rick-santorum

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