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Fri November 17, 2006
He's no Altman.
By John DeSando, WCBE's "It's Movie Time"
"His passion has aroused the best and the beast in man. And the beast waited for him in the kitchen." Theodore H. White
The film clips of Bobby Kennedy before his assassination are a stark reminder of the Kennedy charisma and the loss to America both brothers' deaths brought. Besides the obvious Crash parallel, Emilio Estevez's Bobby takes a Robert Altman approach to the day of Robert Kennedy's death to show in the hotel the intersecting lives that will be defined by this history.
Estevez has neither Altman's genius for overlapping dialogue nor his creative characterization. The vignettes are about people such as a philandering hotel manager (William H. Macy) and a windy chef (Larry Fishburne), along with an equally surface retired doorman (Anthony Hopkins) and an old and sentimental guest (Harry Belafonte), to name a few. Even Demi Moore as a famous lounge singer and Sharon Stone as a beautician philosophize about growing old. I just can't remember anything they all said or did that was memorable or even relevant to the tragedy about to occur in the Ambassador Hotel.
Perhaps the point is that they are allowed to age with unremarkable lives while this young leader would be shot down never to fulfill his promise of liberating America from Vietnam and the hotel Latino laborers from dead-end jobs.
You have to admit, even these cursory plot points are hardly the stuff to accompany a real-life tragedy. Altman's Nashville depicted the players before a fictional assassination, yet they remain vivid in my memory decades later. All I'll remember from Bobby is how Stone and Moore are aging and how foolish the young Heather Graham was to give herself to Macy's uptight manager without being aware of the many men who would love to date her.
"Has anybody seen my friend Bobby? Where has he gone?"
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE 90.5's "It's Movie Time," which can be heard streaming at www.wcbe.org Fridays at 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm and on demand anytime. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com