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Steal This Movie Steal This Movie

An attempt to shed some insight into the counterculture's big 60's radical hero, Abbie Hoffman, Steal This Movie is a discordant take on one of the yippie organizer's works called "Steel This Book".  Robert Greenwald's direction underlines the anarchistic aura represented by the leftist hell raiser.  Despite a plethora of information from the Nixon years, ambitious digging into antiwar efforts versus the counterintelligence battle, it feels divided, yet has merit as a psychological study.

The more wild nature of Hoffman is never embraced as its tone is suppressed with a Citizen Kane handling recently depicted in the glam rock movie Velvet Goldmine.

It's 1977 and journalist David Glenn (Alan Van Sprang) is phoned by Hoffman, operating underground, to tell his story through two vital people from his past: long suffering wife Anita (Jeneane Garafolo) and trusted lawyer Gerry Lefcourt (Kevin Pollak).

Often in the early sections, Steal This Movie has a docudrama atmosphere, it blends key moments such as the 1968 Chicago riots inter cut with newsreel footage.  The roots of Hoffman's work are shown in grainy black and white mixed with vivid color as he starts campus anti-war rallies and pushes voter registration for blacks in the South.

Based on a couple of tomes, one written by Abbie and Anita, "To America With Love: Letters From The Underground", Greenwald evokes a sense of the era and its mores and gets an inspired rendering of the Robin Hood like renegade from the chameleon D'Onofrio.  But the message which deifies Hoffman as an FBI target doesn't back D'Onofrio's galvanizing hero, diminishing the exposition of how the "New Left" made itself known from the electronic media.

How the story branches out from the yippie movement to the famous 1968 Democratic National Convention protest and flashbacks to Hoffman's family life with Anita and their young son has a weighted feel.  His fellow activists, including Tom Hayden (played by Troy Garity, son of Hayden and Jane Fonda), Jerry Rubin (Kevin Corrigan) and Stew Albert (Donal Logue) don't emerge with the spontaneous theatrics of the New Left tenets.

There is a strong central performance by D'Onofrio, a welcome stretch for Garafolo and surprising emotion and depth by Jeanne Tripplehorn but Steal This Movie is too informative and not politically persuasive.

Steal This Movie

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