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Speaking Frankenly with Al

Posted at 5:05 PM on April 19, 2006 by Euan Kerr

Different people will react very differently to "Al Franken: God Spoke" which opens the 2006 Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival tonight. Franken fans will love it. His detractors will hate it, and brand it as a 90 minute campaign commercial.

I suspect it may leave the rest of us a little more uncomfortable about the state of politics in the US.

Directors Chris Hegedus and Nick Doob followed Franken for a couple of years. Their film starts just after Franken's much publicized feud with Bill O'Reilly (O'Reilly sued over Franken's book "Lies and the lying liars who tell them: a fair and balanced look at the Right" and lost, while giving the book huge publicity.) It continues through the creation of the liberal talk show network "Air America" and the 2004 election, ending with Franken's move back to Minnesota and his pondering a run for the US Senate seat now held by Norm Coleman.

Franken seldom shrinks from the camera, and we see the good, the bad, and the ugly. He is great at working a crowd, and his passion for politics shines through all the time. He can be as ugly in his condemnation of his radio competitors as they are of him.

The films most striking sections are when Franken goes toe-to-toe with Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity. The animus just drips from these scenes, and while it's pulse-raising stuff there's not a great deal of political substance behind the venom.

Franken, Hegedus, and Doob will all be at the screening Thursday. The crowd reaction could be quite interesting.

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