Steve Bannon was chief strategist, and self-professed kingmaker, for the Trump presidential campaign and left the White House a week after deadly Charlottesville hate rally. Since then, he has traveled the world to promote his far-right ideology that may well lead us all to “The Brink.”
I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a fan of Steve Bannon. I personally find his politics reprehensible and, to me, he looks like a diseased rag bag. But, I love documentaries and “The Brink” is a good example of the genre: you are entertained and learn stuff, whether you like the subject or not.
Director Allison Klayman follows Bannon after his resignation/firing (depending on whom you talk to) from the White House through the 2018 midterm elections and his European tour promoting his Far Right world political agenda. The film shows the man’s dedication to espousing his agenda to the right wing leaders from France, Italy and Belgium to the UK, Poland and Hungary.
Klayman’s access to Bannon, with ample chances to voice his radical right wing creed on camera, allows him to pontificate on whatever comes to his mind. For a leftist liberal like me, his rhetoric of hate and supremacy sets my hair on fire and I lost the surface layer of my teeth by grinding them throughout “The Brink.”
Even though I do not like the man, I appreciate the chance to see, in a succinctly crafted way, the many reasons why. I give it a B-.
Alison Klayman’s (“Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry”) documentary follows Steve Bannon’s campaign to unite nationalist causes in Europe, but it won’t tell you much you don’t already know. The biggest takeaway for those of us who abhor his views is that he’s a lot more personable than his former boss and actually has a sense of humor.
We meet Bannon forcing down a healthy smoothie prepared by his assistant nephew, claiming he wants to lose thirty-five pounds, but see him constantly scarfing down junk thereafter. He’s always on the move, winking to the camera that he will be outed with his populist followers for his five star hotel stays and private jet travel. He meets with far right leaders in France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Belgium and Italy disparaging Brexiters Nigel Farage and Raheem Kassam for liking to look like big shots without doing any actual work. He claims his economic nationalism isn’t racist (his speaking engagement audiences are distinctly older and all white), his parries with journalists claiming otherwise fooling no one, just like his attempt to downplay dinner with Belgian Nazi sympathizer Filip Dewinter. ‘Hate is a motivator,’ Bannon says directly to the camera. He tells us the movie he produced, ‘Trump @ War,’ is propaganda.
Klayman never bridges gaps she herself presents, like Bannon’s having called the Russian Trump Tower meeting treasonous while still supporting the man who now calls him Sloppy Steve. We watch him go all in with Roy Moore, stating that if allegations against him are true, people should vote for him anyway so he can resign and the Governor can retain the seat. She’s on the sidelines of Bannon’s midterm broadcast without ever commenting upon its ludicrous technical issues. Nor do we hear about the radically dwindling attendance numbers at his engagements. “The Brink” is a footnote past its expiration date.
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