David ​Edelstein on "amazing" documentary "Weiner"


The documentary "Weiner," by directors Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg, follow the fall-and-rise-and-fall-again fortunes of New York Congressman Anthony Weiner as he attempts a political comeback.

Sundance Selects

So what's worth seeing as the summertime movie-going season begins? It turns out to be a tough question for our David Edelstein:

Memorial Day weekend is a great time to see movies, but wow ... there's not a lot out there.

My local multiplex has "Alice Through the Looking Glass," on three screens, and it's a big, phantasmagorical nothingburger.

On the other four screens: "X-Men: Apocalypse." I actually loved that one -- it's moving and scary. It captures both the pain of being an outsider (a mutant) and the ruinous temptations of superpower. BUT you do need to have seen all five (six? nine? 12?) other "X-Men" movies.

And there's a nasty little futuristic satire called "The Lobster," with Colin Farrell as a guy who needs to couple up in a few days or he'll get turned into an animal. You'll either love this, as I do, or send me four-letter tweets.

Ah, but there is another choice, in theaters and on demand: the terrific behind-the-scenes documentary "Weiner," which charts the 2013 mayoral run of former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner.

What's an apt metaphor for the movie?

Car crash? Too modest.

Trainwreck? Too mundane.

It's more like the Titanic. You see that iceberg coming, and you know it's horrible. But you gotta watch.

You'll recall in 2011, Weiner got caught texting pictures to women of the very part of his anatomy from which he'd spent a lifetime trying, owing to his name, to dissociate himself.

In 2013, he and his wife, Huma Abedin, an aide to Hillary Clinton, posed for a New York Times Magazine cover, and Phase Two -- The Comeback -- was on.

Directors Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg had incredible access. And the weird thing is, at first, despite relentless ridicule and obnoxious puns, they looked to be covering a weiner -- I mean, a winner. Maybe he'd now be New York's mayor, except ...

It's amazing Weiner didn't pull the plug on the documentary when the SECOND scandal broke, when a porn actress released photos and texts he'd sent AFTER leaving Congress, when he was "working on his marriage."

But the film crew stays, and the campaign perseveres.

I'm going to say I found Weiner less hateful than pitiful. He's not a confident liar. It's like he knows we'll see through him. To me, it speaks to the nature of modern documentaries and reality shows.

Oscar Wilde once defined scandal as "gossip made tedious by morality." But if you have behind-the-scenes access to the people, it's anything but tedious. It's riveting!

Which makes you feel -- even if, like me, you think it's an amazing movie -- really creepy.

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