The Party's Over

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The Party's Over

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With few exceptions, political coverage and soft cheese spoil at about the same rate: Once the votes get cast, what's blazingly relevant one moment becomes yesterday's fight. A sequel to the 1993 documentary The Last Party, which sent an easily excited Robert Downey Jr. out to cover the 1992 presidential election, The Party's Over puts the far more taciturn Philip Seymour Hoffman on the campaign trail, covering first the Republican Convention in Philadelphia, then the Democrats in L.A. Directed by Donovan Leitch (who produced the original) and Rebecca Chaiklin, the film is briskly assembled and packed with information on issues that remain relevant today. That doesn't prevent it from having the yellowy crispness of yesterday's news, however. Though it concludes with George W. Bush's victory (if that's the right word), much of it seems aimed at getting out the vote for the year 2000. Like the film, Hoffman doesn't attempt to hide that he comes from the Left; based on the interviews here, Republicans aren't just wrong, but also inarticulate bozos, while Democrats are sell-outs and Ralph Nader represents the country's last best hope. Even if it were up to date, The Last Party's scattershot approach doesn't linger on any single topic long enough to make a convincing case for any side, visiting an activist boot camp one moment and getting sound-bite opinions on drug legalization from Scott Weiland the next. At least Weiland can claim some contact with the issue. It's tough to know what to make of a film that demands a more substantive political dialogue, opens with a definition of the word "democracy" and footage of Martin Luther King Jr., and then keeps giving screen time to noted political geniuses Ben Harper and Courtney Love. All the moldy footage of angry Clinton-era protesters does have a sort of poignancy, however, because they have no idea what's waiting around the corner.

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