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A Documentary That Gets Frank

By Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 27, 2004; Page WE32

I'm not sure how many right-wingers are going to want to watch "Let's Get Frank" -- a documentary about Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) filmed mostly in the late 1990s as the House wrestled with the issue of impeaching Bill Clinton -- but those who do might surprise themselves, coming away with the view that the outspoken congressman is just as entertaining as his liberal fans already know him to be.

Even his former nemesis, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde, seems to take great delight in Frank's often off-color wit in Bart Everly's affectionate yet slight film. Hyde chuckles with evident delight when the openly gay Frank thanks the white-haired Republican chairman for "swinging my way" when Hyde yields the floor to him for yet another of Frank's rapid-fire denunciations of the proceedings, which the film's subject viewed as a right-wing witch hunt. Republican Bob Barr, on the other hand, comes across as a brick here, staring ahead with a pinched poker face as Frank again and again cracks up the hearing room like a stand-up comic, pointing out the many absurdities and hypocrisies of the situation. And who should know about absurdities better than Frank, who suffered through his own sex scandal -- and official rebuke -- when it was revealed that a friend of his had been conducting a prostitution business from the Democratic congressman's home?

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Frank, who has been told he should do talk radio, is a natural in front of a camera and microphone, and his ease comes across in Everly's film. That, and his genial nature, which tempers his often caustic barbs, along with a quick wit that never sacrifices substance for the sound bite.

LET'S GET FRANK (Unrated, 75 minutes) --Contains discussion of sexual matters and some vulgarisms. At Visions Bar Noir. Frank will make an appearance at Sunday's 6:15 screening. Tickets are $15.

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