Jimmy Carter Man from Plains

Film

Documentaries

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Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>2</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue Aug 12 2008

America’s 39th president took a lot of flak during and after his time in office for perceived weakness and what would now be called ‘flip-flopping’ – qualities that have since been revealed as indicating levels of intelligence, moral fortitude, flexibility and military reluctance rare and precious in his exalted position.

Jonathan Demme’s warm, likeable documentary finds the 82-year-old statesman on tour publicising – and spiritedly defending – his latest and most controversial book, ‘Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid’, a work that prompted condemnation and accusations of anti-Semitism from
the Israel lobby, not least for its provocative title. We observe Carter in conversation with supporters and detractors, remaining charming and unflappable even when pro-Israel protesters line the streets to vilify him.

What the film captures superbly are the contradictions inherent in Carter’s personality, the complexities that make him a great thinker and almost certainly led to his downfall as a politician. A simple family man from solid Georgia peanut-farming stock, he also trained as a nuclear- submarine engineer and physicist. He’s a devout Christian and sometime preacher, but also an enlightened, fiercely intellectual visionary deliberately provoking discussion and even recrimination with his views on world affairs.

The film itself breaks few boundaries, filmed handheld in muted tones, inserting well-chosen news items to bolster our understanding both of Carter’s presidential track record and the ongoing Middle East conflict. As usual, Demme selects his soundtrack carefully, with songs from artists such as Gillian Welch and Neil Young complementing Alejandro Escovedo’s plaintive acoustic score.

It could be argued that ‘Man from Plains’ fails to probe deeply enough, being an uncritical record of events rather than an incisive journalistic interrogation. But Demme is clearly a Carter enthusiast, and his film paints a vivid, involving picture of an informed and passionate man whose impact is still being felt worldwide.
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Release details

UK release:

Fri Aug 15, 2008

Duration:

125 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Jonathan Demme

Screenwriter:

Jonathan Demme

Cinematography:

Declan Quinn

Music:

Alejandro Escovedo

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Ric

Looks like Jennifer did not see the film, which I plan to see next week. I'm afraid that she is wrong about how Americans feel about President Carter -- many of us consider him to be a very honorable man -- something that has been missing from the White House in recent years.

Ric

Looks like Jennifer did not see the film, which I plan to see next week. I'm afraid that she is wrong about how Americans feel about President Carter -- many of us consider him to be a very honorable man -- something that has been missing from the White House in recent years.

Jennifer

Most Americans would not walk across the street to see a film about this former President. History has already recorded his Presidency as "below average." There's nothing to distinguish it. When he left office, the country and world were worse off than when he took office.

bluesdoctor

Uncritical adulatory nonsense. Carter was one of the worst presidents in US history, micromanaging, unable to delegate authority, blundering the Iran hostage crisis, and failing to win a second term. His post-presidency career has been an even worse embarassment, for example, his genuflecting before, giving benediction to, the tyrannt Cesar Chavez. The Hollywood elite, Demme included, are somehow blind, stubbornly impervious, to this lesson of how liberal humanism has gone awry.