Sunday, June 19, 2016

Weiner (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway


The provocatively titled documentary "Weiner" by  directors Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg, focuses on the Democrat firebrand Anthony Weiner and his life in the midst of a texting scandal that imperiled a previously shining political career. Weiner was a seven-term congressman from New York City. He was forceful, feisty and full of voltage, never failing to take republicans to task on issues like funding health care for citizens who were near the 9-11 attack site and national parks.

In the film he refuses to yield to the floor. Sweaty with his neck pulsing, he shouts and is ready for a fight.  People love him and he quickly becomes a daring darling on Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show" championing progressive issues. Then, seemingly out of the blue, a young woman posts a Twitter photo of Anthony Weiner's bulging underwear.

The public is shocked.

At first Weiner denies the photo, only to announce his intention to resign during the Summer of 2011. The picture of his penis under wraps was, in fact, genuine. Given the nature of his indiscretion, not to mention his own unfortunate name, the congressman became the target of jokes and derision by many, despite his attempts to earnestly debate issues that face everyday people.

Enter his wife Huma Abedin, right hand to Hillary Clinton, who gets Anthony to run for mayor of the city in 2013.

This is a sympathetic and compelling study of the human being as well as the politician. While it is true that Anthony Weiner made a mistake in a phone sex scandal involving numerous women while lying, amounting to a betrayal of public trust, the film clearly shows him as a sincere political person who cares about issues.

Weiner stays awake at night writing speeches and going to donors, only to be pulled back into a second scandal as more information is released. The pull of sex and desire is a vortex to him. After each revelation of unsavory news, the congressman seems dumbstruck, as if waking to a horrid dream.

Still, Anthony Weiner goes on.

The best segments of the film feature him rightly fighting a Republican on the congressional floor, as well as verbally fighting someone who hurls invective against his wife Huma at a New York deli. At such moments, your hand will cheer. He can and does do the right thing.

Though Weiner might is a flawed politician, he is also joyful and impassioned. Jokes aside, by no means is he a cold fish. In one moment Anthony Weiner hits the gay pride parade, at the next, he flies the Israel flag, swinging it wildly about his head, his electricity and cheer undaunted. People kiss him, while others hug him. But yet again, the congressman is forced to scurry and evade the eyes of cyber-mistress, Sydney Leathers, dressed in voluptual red.

Despite all sincerity and intent, Weiner, the man, has a sexual Achilles' heel that ultimately threatens to turn him into a tabloid figure.

Interestingly however, "Weiner" the film highlights Huma Abedin as his wife who clearly has the power to either bring about his salvation or leave him behind.

Write Ian at

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