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Jimmy Carter: Man From Plains
Directed by Jonathan Demme (PG)
The former president encounters conflict on a book tour.
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“Jimmy Carter isn’t a real saint, but he plays one” in Jonathan Demme’s new documentary, said Manohla Dargis in The New York Times. A “friendly, at times fawning, at times gaga 126-minute chronicle,” the film follows the former president as he promotes his 2006 best-seller Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. The book equates the Israeli government with South Africa’s infamous regime, turning the seemingly pious Carter into a political provocateur. In Jimmy Carter: Man From Plains, the 86- year-old is cornered by angry members of Jewish groups and ill-informed journalists. Demme’s edits “speak volumes” about the Carter he would like us to know: He “flies commercial, handles his own luggage, and reads the Bible daily with his wife.” It’s as if Demme cut a deal to make this documentary, said Joe Morgenstern in The Wall Street Journal. The terms are clear: “unrestricted access in exchange for a mostly uncritical view.” The film’s good intentions are obvious but can seem like overkill. Demme, who also directed Philadelphia, “may be the most well-meaning filmmaker in Hollywood,” said J. Hoberman in The Village Voice. Carter is “certainly the most well-meaning ex-president in recent American history.” But a book tour doesn’t carry the same weight as a political campaign, and flying coach with Carter doesn’t exactly compare to hanging backstage with Mick Jagger.
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