Crawford

"Excellent"

Crawford Review


Think you've been screwed by the Bush Administration? Imagine the people of Crawford, Texas. Once the quintessential American small town, Crawford became the unwitting hotbed of all things political -- thanks to a bunch of bigwigs grooming a Texas governor for the country's most powerful office. First-time documentary maker David Modigliani gives us the thorough inside scoop of a town turned on its proverbial ear.

Modigliani shows his smarts early, opening the story with appropriately humble roots. Oh, don't mind us, we're just a bunch of rural-type folks doing our thing in this Texas hamlet of 700 or so. Crawford spends almost a moment too long on the sleepy aspect of the town... but it's all worth it in the bizarro department when Presidential hopeful and new Crawford resident George W. Bush addresses the high school's graduating class.

It seems someone in the Bush camp felt Crawford had just the right down-home Texas feel they wanted to convey to America. The Bushes bought the land, the media bought the story, and Americans got sold the B.S.

You know that serene farming landscape you see behind so many TV reporters in Crawford? It's not what you think. Neither is that sense of idyllic country isolation (one high school student reveals the town's close proximity to Waco, population 120,000+). And if you've been given the impression that Crawford residents see the President as their favorite son, you've got it wrong, too.

It's this type of curtain-pulling that makes Crawford an intriguing piece of investigative Americana. Modigliani never posits an anti-Bush point of view; his camera acts more as an invited guest to Crawford. It just looks around a little bit, gets the feel of the place. It does hang around long enough -- years, in fact -- to witness Cindy Sheehan's protest camp, anti-establishment organizations, starry-eyed pro-Bush business owners. After a while, you're likely to say exactly what most Crawford residents did: Gosh, we didn't ask for this.

Ironically, Modigliani and his crew accomplish exactly what the Bush family does: They move their way in and become part of the fabric of Crawford. The main difference appears to be the filmmakers' ability to, well, fit in. We never see the crew, but their cameras capture enough unfiltered honesty to give that impression. And not once do they cause a security issue by bringing Condoleeza Rice to town.

The biggest powderkeg in the movie -- an unexpected event for both the town and the filmmakers -- is the Cindy Sheehan protest and the throngs of people it attracted to Crawford. As part of the mayhem, Modigliani's crew captures two hyper-jingoistic nutballs who paint their faces (and their horses) and ride through town to protest the protesters. The film then edits these guys' hateful rants with photographs of them (and their horses) plastered across newspapers, including the Crawford publication vilified for its particular point of view.

With its fair approach, unlikely persistence, and general respect for its subjects, Crawford becomes more than just a revealing document. It shows a skilled hand at documentary filmmaking, entertaining above all. The film ends with a question from one of Crawford's citizens, asking the filmmaker and the audience to consider all that's happened in recent years. Yeah, it's hard to believe. Here's one more question: Is this the way it went down in Hope, Arkansas?



Crawford

Facts and Figures

In Theaters: Tuesday 7th October 2008

Distributed by: Live Action Projects

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Fresh: 5

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: David Modigliani

Producer: David Modigliani

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