Movie Review: Get Me Roger Stone
Unrated, 97 minutes
Stars: Roger Stone, Donald J. Trump, Paul Manafort
by Jason F. Koenigsberg
Roger Stone is a conservative political consultant that has been involved in practically every major presidential election our country has faced since Nixon. From his name being on the list of suspects investigated by the FBI after the Watergate incident when he was in his early twenties, to his behind the scenes orchestration of Donald Trump’s presidency, and a myriad of moments in between with Reagan, Clinton and Dole, Roger Stone was there. Never at the center but always on the outskirts, or off to the side of the camera, the new documentary Get Me Roger Stone puts him front and center and chronicles his rise to politics and how this political consultant may be one of the most influential people in American presidential history over the past half century.
The film opens up with a crowd cheering and then we see Donald Trump about to address the audience at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Right away it is shot very differently than how we normally see convention coverage on the news. We are looking at this from a very inside perspective as the camera shows ominous images of its subject, Roger Stone, watching from up high in his private box. Like a ghostly figure watching from the rafters. The opening shots cast a cloud over Roger Stone as if he were a James Bond villain. It helps that he tends to dress very vibrantly and accessorizes with glasses and hats that make him stand out anywhere. By the end when we see these images at the convention again from the same angles, Roger Stone is almost God-like, or like the Devil himself who composed the President Trump symphony on his dark throne. This depends on where you stand politically since Get Me Roger Stone makes it seem that this man orchestrated the Donald Trump presidency more than anyone else.
The viewpoint of Roger Stone is a peculiar one, and his rules on infamy, fame and winning by any costs are certainly not truths that most elected politicians would publicly agree with. He is open about his unscrupulous ways towards winning elections. This documentary portrays its subject matter as a classless and soulless man. In reality he is the conservative James Carville, but after seeing Get Me Roger Stone, one interview subject refers to him as the ‘sinister Forrest Gump‘ and that probably encapsulates his life and career perfectly since whenever there was a major victory for the Republican party since Nixon was reelected, Roger Stone has somehow been involved.
His career as a political consultant, which is better defined as a political provocateur began back in elementary school when Roger Stone started using disinformation and dirty tricks in school elections. Get Me Roger Stone gives him credit for pioneering the use of negative campaigning in the late 70’s and early 80’s when he helped get Ronald Reagan elected president.
Roger Stone’s real political hero is Nixon. This guy loved Trickie Dickie and he has more Nixon memorabilia around his house than probably anyone else alive. The documentary draws parallels between Nixon, Reagan and Trump, how they used the same rhetoric to get elected and behind the scenes they all used Roger Stone to emerge victorious.
Stone himself is a very interesting subject. He loves the spotlight and was thrilled to have the liberal documentary crew around all the time and opened up to them even though they are on the complete opposite side of the political spectrum. As a political figure Roger Stone reminded me more of Woody Allen’s Zelig (1983) than he did Forrest Gump. Every time the Republican party went through drastic changes and paradigm shifts, so did Roger Stone. Like Woody’s Zelig, who would change his looks depending on who he was around, Roger Stone was a Republican chameleon who changed his physical appearance based on who he was around and who he was supporting for office. Throughout the documentary they show archival footage of Stone when he was younger and at times he had a striking resemblance to Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump, and George W. Bush. He never really modeled his image after Richard Nixon so instead he got a tattoo of Nixon on his back.
Ultimately, Get Me Roger Stone is a documentary as informative as it is entertaining. Both liberals and conservatives are guaranteed to learn a lot about one of the most influential men in recent American politics. It is a riveting documentary because of a very compelling, malevolent main character. To some, this movie may get their blood boiling, to others, it may just pat them on the back. It is done in the same propaganda style as a Michael Moore documentary but like Moore’s best films it is as educational as it is thrilling. Roger Stone even states how he would address his detractors after they watch this movie and that he revels in their hatred, because that means he is effective. I guess it is hard to argue with that knowing Roger Stone is that self-aware. I hope this documentary finds an audience and further down the road they decide to make a biopic on Roger Stone. I think that could be at the very least just as interesting and provocative. I can see either Steve Carell or Edward Norton playing him.
Get Me Roger Stone premieres on Netflix May 12.