Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Spinning Boris


Originally made for ShowTime, this movie has no external reviews at the IMDb. But it is very, very good. It’s based on fact, that three American political consultants were hired and flown to Russia in 1996 to help Boris Yeltsin’s moribund campaign. He’s polling 2%. Stalin is polling 8%, and he’s dead. But politics is a little … different over there. They’re familiar with guns and ready to use them, but don’t know anything at all about selling political “image.” In fact, none of them ever meet Boris; they deal only with his daughter, who feels it is “dishonorable” to run negative commercials, among other things. It’s wonderfully ironic to see how quickly they grasp the concept that electoral politics is inherently dishonorable and dishonest, how quickly Boris abandons his dour expression for big smiles (remember those clips of him drunk as a skunk and dancing up a storm?) and 4-hour speeches for 5-second sound bites. And when the crunch comes, Tatiana storms into the political mudslinging like Marshall Zhukov rolling up the Nazi Panzer divisions. The script is wise and wry, with great dialogue between Jeff Goldblum, Anthony LaPaglia, and Liev Schreiber. You know they manage to pull it off, and these guys are still around … but glad to be out of Russia. The Goldblum character’s most recent assignment was getting an immigrant bodybuilder and bad actor elected governor of Cahleefornia, so you can see how good he is.