By Owen Gleiberman
September 19, 2008 at 04:00 AM EDT
George Bush Presidential Library and Museum

Boogie Man


If you want to hear juicy inside tales of the scams devised by Lee Atwater, the right-wing visionary of media-age dirty tricks, you’ll find loads of them in Boogie Man. Stefan Forbes’ incisive portrait of the late, infamous Republican consultant is a chronicle of how the culture ? war took over American politics. ? As such, it could scarcely be more timely. (Karl Rove was Atwater’s protégé.) Atwater, who relished playing rock & blues guitar almost as much as he loved slinging mud, had his first dark victory in 1978, when he smeared Max Heller — a Holocaust survivor running for U.S. Congress — with a campaign that claimed Heller didn’t believe in the Lord. After that, there was Willie Horton, Whitewater — the hits kept coming. In terrific clips, we see the scampish gleam of mischief that shot out of Atwater’s steely eyes, giving him the look of a honky-tonk Daniel Craig. His great strategy, and legacy, was the art of lying out in the open. He saw that character assassination invades media like an airborne virus — that even a lie can become its own ”truth.” B+

Boogie Man

  • Movie
  • Unrated
  • 86 minutes
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