LET'S GET FRANKNR
It already seems like ancient history, that fall of 1998 when the Congress of the United States held hearings to decide whether President Bill Clinton should be impeached because he lied to a grand jury about sex. Rep. Barney Frank, long-term Democratic congressman from Massachusetts, and a member of the judiciary committee which held the impeachment hearings, proved to be one of Clinton's staunchest defenders, along with his outspoken Democratic colleague Maxine Waters. As a frequently seen TV spokesman during the 'trial,' Frank consistently pointed out the cosmic absurdity of the proceedings, and he also managed to be one of the few questioners who discombobulated special prosecutor Kenneth Starr.
Let's Get Frank briefly recaps Frank's own brush with scandal--going back to 1989 when a male prostitute accused Frank of sponsoring a prostitution ring. The charges were proven false, and Frank, who had voluntarily 'come out' in 1987, received only a reprimand from his fellow congressmen. That experience, plus his own innate good sense and wicked wit, gave Barney Frank the ability--and the guts--to cut through what he saw as the hypocrisy of the Clinton accusers.
Documentarian Bart Everly effectively uses TV news clips to recap highlights of the impeachment proceedings, but his camera also follows Frank behind the scenes, observing him interacting with his staff, his congressional peers and the media. It's clear that Frank gets along exceptionally well with all of them, philosophically accepting personal slurs, even the remark made by former House speaker Dick Armey, who 'accidentally' called him, on camera, 'Barney Fag.' While frequently funny, Frank's comments also show his serious dedication to his job--and to his personal relationship with a young man named Sergio Pombo.
What will the citizens of 'red' America think of Let's Get Frank? Well, frankly, they probably won't get a chance to see it. After all, it took 18 months after its premiere in Washington, D.C. to get a booking in New York City--a two-week run at only one theatre, the downtown cineaste haven Film Forum.
Too bad, for Let's Get Frank is a fascinating, entertaining and well-assembled documentary. And, if nothing else, it provides some valuable insights in the current debate over George W. Bush's proposal for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.