Thursday, October 30, 2008

Less than a Week!

Yes it is less than a week to go to see who will be at the helm of America for the next four years. So my second (and last) installment of recommended political films are:

Bulworth (DVD)
Bulworth is a disillusioned, Democratic senator. He hates his job and his life, and has just lost millions in the market. So he puts out a contract on his own life and has only three days to live. But in those three days he decides that, for once, he is free to say exactly what he thinks, and that's what he does. Warren Beatty, who directed, produced, co- wrote and stars in this film, deserves huge credit for pulling off an enterprise as audacious and risky as Bulworth.

Dr Strangelove (DVD)
For me, Dr. Strangelove is the best political satire film ever made. The film starts with a deranged General Ripper declaring a "Code Red", sealing off his Air Force base, and ordering a nuclear attack on Russia. What follows is political satire at it’s finest as President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers), hawkish General Turgidson (George C. Scott) and Dr. Strangelove (Peter Sellers), an ex-Nazi scientist are called to determine how to react to the crisis. Hilarious and frightening, all at the same time!

All the President’s Men (VHS)
This film is based on the non-fiction book written by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. It starts with the investigation of a seemingly minor break-in which leads Bernstein and Woodward all the way to the White House. Their investigation of the Watergate incident was instrumental in the resignation of Richard Nixon.

Bob Roberts (VHS)
Documentary-style look at the fictional Senatorial campaign of Bob Roberts (Tim Robbins), an arch-conservative, self-made millionaire, folk singer turned politician. Although Roberts has the look of a home town Woody Guthrie, his message is that greed is good, the bottom line is the only line and winning is everything.

And remember, if you haven’t voted early…make sure and vote on November 4th!!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

It’s going to be a bumpy ride!

Although my “political films” Saturday Film Forum couldn’t happen this autumn, I did promise you that I would post some political film titles to get you through to November 4th. So here is your first installment. These are the four films I would have shown as my film program:

The Manchurian Candidate
And when I say Manchurian Candidate, I mean the original Frank Sinatra, 1962 version of this film. (Despite the excellent cast, the 2004 remake just wasn’t anywhere near the quality of this version). The plot: an American patrol is captured by Chinese communists during the Korean War, and one soldier is programmed to become an assassin; two years later, he's ordered to kill a presidential candidate. This is a minimalist view of this complex and intriguing film. After its release in 1962, Pauline Kael wrote, "It may be the most sophisticated political satire ever made in Hollywood". A must see for political film fans. Or those that want to see what real acting chops Angela Lansbury has!

Ivan Reitman
directed this gem of a film. When the president falls into a coma, Dave Kovic (Kevin Kline) a dead-ringer look alike for the president is asked to temporarily step in. The White House chief of staff, an evil genius played by Frank Langella, decides not to turn over the reins of power to the vice president (Ben Kingsley) but instead to use Dave as a permanent front man, with him pulling the strings. Problems begin, however, when Dave starts to act like a leader – a compassionate and intelligent one -- instead of the puppet that his Chief of Staff wants him to be.

The Contender
The always wonderful Joan Allen portrays a senator who is nominated to become Vice President following the death of the previous office holder. The President (Jeff Bridges) who is near the end of his final term, decides to leave a legacy by selecting a woman to fill the position. Unfortunately, there are those that don’t’ think this is a wise choice and they dig up things from the senator’s past that have her fighting for her good name.

One of my favorite films! This is most certainly about politics; the politics of a high school election. Based on the Tom Perrotta novel of the same name, Election is about the eternally perky, Tracy Flick’s (Reese Witherspoon) bid for class president. Flick’s exuberance rubs teacher, Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick), the wrong way and he sets out to foil her election plans. Cynical, dark comedy at its best!