December 11th: The sad truth about America is that for the last 8 years, most people have been more interested in American Idol than American politics. I suppose the mundane details are too boring or some of us simply do not want to swallow the bitter pill of modern political reality too easily. Americans need to be entertained, which is probably why British director Sebastian Doggart chose to film his brilliant new documentary on Condoleezza Rice in the very unlikely genre of a musical comedy.
Try to think of “Courting Condi” as a documentary about the fascinating and yet dark tale of Condoleezza Rice’s rise to power as told by Borat and Micheal Moore with a delightfully strange musical soundtrack. The storyline centers on aspiring musician and singer, Devin Ratray, whose demented obsession with our powerful and yet sweetly buck-toothed Secretary of State leads him on a long odyssey across the American landscape to learn everything he can about his beloved Condi. Although it soon becomes clear that Ratray is just an actor playing the role of an obsessed loser who mails what he calls “Love Discs” to the White House in order to win Rice’s heart, his rich music talent and natural comedic brilliance are what makes this dark tale so utterly enjoyable.
This movie is a wildly inventive, surreal satire that brilliantly accomplishes its goal of entertaining, educating and exposing the dark side of a prominent national figure at once. It may even be the first time a musical comedy has inspired the impeachment of a high-ranking politician, but one can only hope. Using music and surrealist cartoons thrown in for effect, this might have been the perfect way to teach Dubya himself some important lessons about world politics while being careful not to put any unnecessary strain on his mind. In the meantime, I hope that this film hits the national stage soon.
Condoleezza Rice, frequently referred to as the most powerful woman in the world, is a duplicitous figure. A brilliant concert pianist herself, she has performed private concerts for the Queen of England, but was described by one of her former music teachers as not being able to feel the emotion of music at all. She rose to power at Stanford with just a little help from Affirmative action and then eliminated many of those same programs which had assisted her. There is so much more, but you have to see this film for yourself and enjoy your own educational musical odyssey through the dark corridors of American power.
When asked about his inspiration for choosing to tell this story, witty director Sebastian Doggart replied: “Well, ever since I was a child, I had improper thoughts about Margaret Thatcher.” And I ask you – who hasn’t? After the screening, we all walked over to the Apple Restaurant on Waverly for an after party with free cocktails and a lot of discussion about the film, which is currently seeking a distributor. I mingled with actors, writers, film industry types, and other directors who are all looking to get their movies out to the public. One can only hope they are all as funny as this one.