“A lackluster documentary”
Bill Baber’s Clinton, Inc. is now the second theatrically released, basically feature-length attack ad against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. The first came back in July, with documentarian Dinesh D’Souza completing his trilogy of anti-Democrat documentaries with Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party, and while Clinton, Inc. is a bit more focused and less flabby than the latter, it still largely predicates itself off of a great deal of creative liberties, on top of predictable pandering tactics.
It’s frustrating that this has become the standard of partisan documentaries. It’s also interesting to note how both of these major anti-Clinton documentaries refuse to recognize or even mention Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in any way. I suppose it’s more fun to dig deep and accentuate the flaws and shortcomings of Hillary Clinton than accentuate the very positives of Donald Trump. The basis of that would at least prompt for a less predictable film.
Aside from exploring tired and worn talking points about Clinton’s email scandal, in addition to the famous Benghazi hearings, the core of Clinton, Inc. is its exploration of the dynasty formed by both Hillary and her husband Bill. It goes all the way back to their humble beginnings – asserting that one of the reasons Bill was attracted to Monica because her appearance and morals resembled that of his promiscuous, frequently widowed mother, if you can believe that – at Ivy League schools to their meteoric rise in the political arena that really gained traction with Bill’s inauguration into the White House.
The rest is history, but Clinton, Inc. feels the need to regurgitate it for us. It looks at how the Monica Lewinsky scandal would’ve more-than-likely crippled any other president’s marriage, but Hillary sticking by Bill’s side, serving as the disciplinary side in contrast to his charismatic and amiable side, is proof that their marriage is less a union between two people than an arranged partnership. Moreover, it’s somehow used as a segway point to justify that Hillary becoming a New York Senator was the work of her husband Bill as a gentlemanly favor for her sticking by him during the Lewinsky/Gennifer Flowers scandal. The whole thing reeks of frantic, paranoid puzzle-solving.
The biggest issue with Clinton, Inc. is it completely misses its chance – and you would think part of its thesis – in covering the Clinton Foundation in a way that emphasizes the foundation’s shadiest practices. The notorious Haiti earthquake scandal and the donations from nations and projects with presumably separate agendas than what the Clinton’s claim they support are overshadowed in favor for the tired “speaking fees” talking-point that Bill Clinton receives for giving speeches, as well as continued coverage of “the emails” and Benghazi, which, to D’Souza’s credit, he all but ignored in his film. Instead, there’s enough fearmongering over the idea that Chelsea Clinton could one day overtake the Clinton Foundation herself that makes it sound as if she’s some sort of cultist or religious zealot. In any other case, the daughter of two people running a foundation inheriting it would be so perfunctory and logical that it wouldn’t even be worth mentioning.
Despite the occasionally valid point or glimmer of insight, Clinton, Inc. can’t even end on a fully formed idea outside of the fact that, yes, we don’t know what will happen with the upcoming presidential election, and we also don’t know whether much of this information we spent over eighty minutes examining has any real relevance. With that in mind, this is a lackluster documentary that comes off as a collection of talking heads carrying out their personal grudges against the Clinton’s by bashing them in a crude and desperate attempt to sway the election.
NOTE: Clinton, Inc. received a limited release localized to the Chicagoland area over the weekend of September 30, 2016, and will receive a more formal, wider release on October 14, 2016