The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival (M-SPIFF) started last night and I attended the opening film, Al Franken: God Spoke. I really enjoyed it. It's a documentary about Al Franken. They filmed him right after Lies came out and the whole lawsuit filed by Fox, through the formation of Air America Radio through shortly after the 2004 election and his contemplation of running for the US Senate against Norm Coleman here in Minnesota. It's an interesting portrait of a man that I admire.
I'm not sure I learned a lot about him, but I already knew quite a bit going into it. Mr. Franken attended The Blake School, a private school in Minneapolis. I was an assistant debate coach there in college and they were very proud to have him as an alum, so I've followed his career pretty closely ever since then. I think if you enjoyed "The War Room" or like Al Franken, you'd enjoy the film. He's very funny in it, though they also show he's very intense and emotional.
I went to the film with my brother and his friend and my nephew. I remember when my nephew's mom went into labor with him, I took her to the hospital and stayed with her there for most of the day. I was reading "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot" and trying not to laugh because she was in so much pain. 10 years later he's a very grown up boy, watching a documentary about the author and hearing him speak. How time flies!
Anyway, Mr. Franken spoke after the film and I got the strong impression that he has decided to run for the Senate. Since I despise Norm Coleman, I'm very happy at that prospect. Al Franken was friends with Paul Wellstone and I think they share a lot of the same qualities - the passion for social justice, the clear voice without any concern about what might be damaging, politically, the enormous intelligence. I also think Franken's celebrity would be an asset against Coleman - we did elect Jesse Ventura as Governor. Coleman's close allegiance with the Bush administration can't be helping him either, with Bush's approval rating at 33% right now (and it's got to be even lower in Minnesota, since we voted for Kerry in an even larger numbers than we voted for Gore - we clearly wanted that bastard out of office). One concern I have after watching the film, though, is that Al Franken has a quick temper and great disdain for anyone he considers wrong and/or stupid, which will probably be Norm Coleman all the time. There's a scene with Michael Medved where they're discussing Zell Miller's speech at the Republican National Convention and Franken is debunking Miller's bullshit about how John Kerry is going to tear down our defense because he voted against this list of weapons. There's a great chapter in The Truth about this subject if you're interested. Anyway, Medved is trying to parse words and defend Miller and at one point he overgeneralizes and says something that isn't true and Franken just gets apoplectic. I thought he was going to start throwing things around the room. I fear that on a long and tiring campaign trail, he's going to lose control of his emotions and "pull a Howard Dean." Personally, I didn't see anything wrong with Dean's speech - he didn't seem crazy to me, he just seemed passionate and reminded me of Paul Wellstone, but I was in the clear minority on that one. Dean's campaign was dead after that. So, if Franken does run, I hope he'll be able to keep himself in check enough for the very reserved Minnesotans. I always think that we embraced a guy like Paul Wellstone and Jesse Ventura, who is a complete nutjob, we must be pretty good at seeing past the surface. Of course we also voted for a blow-dried shell of a man like Norm Coleman. Ugh.
In knitting news, I've continued work on my Wobbly Circles Tote and am almost done with the cabled baby hat. I'll show pictures next time. I did see one of my knitting pals in the Franken movie. Rebecca went to see him speak and they show her intently listening at one point in the film. She's a superstar!