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General discussion about what's out for the couch.
274

political movies...
Topic by: dpowers
Posted: November 2, 2004 - 8:56 AM PST
Last Reply: November 14, 2004 - 2:52 PM PST

author topic: political movies...
dpowers
post #1  on November 2, 2004 - 8:56 AM PST  
for today's election, here's a list of movies from the san francisco chronicle, printed last weekend. (full article)


The Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933) ... "in many ways a lighthearted musical comedy, the movie begins and ends with a political statement"

Gabriel Over the White House (1933) ... "a fascinating film, made at the nadir of the Depression, that lends itself to multiple interpretations"

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) ... "In its time, this was considered a daring examination of Washington corruption"

Meet John Doe (1941) ... "Capra puts a good face on it, but it's hard to walk out of this one believing everything will be OK"

Wilson (1944) ... "If you're still trying to figure out why on earth we got into World War I, this well-acted biopic, starring Alexander Knox as Woodrow Wilson, might help"

All the King's Men (1949) ... "The protagonist, Willie Stark, transforms on a dime from a crusading backwoods lawyer to a corrupt power monger"

My Son John (1952), not on video ... "one of the very few overtly political Hollywood films to deal with politics from a distinctly right-wing perspective"

The Manchurian Candidate (1962) ... "original and unsettling"

Seven Days in May (1964) ... "plausible presentation of a frightening scenario and features strong performances by the two principals and by Kirk Douglas as the officer who uncovers the plot"

The Best Man (1964) ... "a kind of historical document of the days before conventions became staged political advertisements"

The Candidate (1972) ... "A generation ago, this was a cautionary tale about the corrupting and dumbing-down influence of big media on politics"

Bob Roberts (1992) ... "anticipated the ascendancy of the religious right in American politics"

The American President (1995) ... "a loving Democratic vision of then-President Bill Clinton as a brilliant, engaging, physically attractive, forthright champion of the people"

Absolute Power (1997) ... "the portrayal of the president as a womanizing sleaze who is not above ordering contract hits from the Oval Office was right in line with the most paranoid right-wing fantasies about Clinton"

Bulworth (1998) ... "a career politician who becomes so depressed and despondent that he starts to do the unthinkable -- he tells the truth"
Eoliano
post #2  on November 2, 2004 - 9:47 AM PST  
Conspicuously absent:

Advise and Consent

And a few more:

All the President's Men

The Contender

Fail-Safe

Thirteen Days

Truman

Wag the Dog
dpowers
post #3  on November 2, 2004 - 10:37 AM PST  
ooh, advise and consent, i'd heard of that one but hadn't written it down to find - and i'm a preminger fan, too. shame on me.
hamano
post #4  on November 2, 2004 - 10:49 AM PST  
Are you guys listing political movies, or election movies?

Election

Air Force One

Animal Farm
dpowers
post #5  on November 2, 2004 - 10:52 AM PST  
by the way i saw my son john a few years ago, during an extended stay in NYC. it's a terrific flick. but if it lacks distribution because of its content, it's the film's own fault. it relies strongly on the anti-commie hysteria of the times to drive a shadow of a doubt story to its conclusion. at the time it must have seemed a nightmare brought to life. now it seems like a welles remake of reefer madness without the fun hyperbole.
DLeonard
post #6  on November 2, 2004 - 1:47 PM PST  
> On November 2, 2004 - 8:56 AM PST dpowers wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> for today's election, here's a list of movies from the san francisco chronicle, printed last weekend. (full article)
> ---------------------------------

DPowers, how could you unleash Mick LaSalle on our gentle unsuspecting GreenCine population like that? Folks in other parts of the country think us Californians are all lunatics as it is. No need to confirm those suspicions.

dpowers
post #7  on November 2, 2004 - 2:40 PM PST  
awww, give the poor guy a break... it's not like it's a bad list of movies. besides he's one of my favorite movie reviewers out there! more fun than anybody working at the NYT.
Eoliano
post #8  on November 2, 2004 - 3:07 PM PST  
> ooh, advise and consent, i'd heard of that one but hadn't written it down to find - and i'm a preminger fan, too. shame on me.

Ah, another Preminger fan... It's a very good flick, and something of a companion piece to Vidal's The Best Man, but much nastier.
woozy
post #9  on November 2, 2004 - 5:58 PM PST  

>
> DPowers, how could you unleash Mick LaSalle on our gentle unsuspecting GreenCine population like that? Folks in other parts of the country think us Californians are all lunatics as it is. No need to confirm those suspicions.
>
>
> ---------------------------------

Nothing like the time we unleashed Nina Chonin and her gay and masturbation subplots in Harry Potter 3 last summer.

DLeonard
post #10  on November 3, 2004 - 2:21 PM PST  
> On November 2, 2004 - 2:40 PM PST dpowers wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> awww, give the poor guy a break... it's not like it's a bad list of movies. besides he's one of my favorite movie reviewers out there! more fun than anybody working at the NYT.
> ---------------------------------

You're right, Mick can be a lot of fun to read. His reader mail column in particular is a great example of...something. Pompusness disguised as irony maybe?

Here's a couple of his recent reviews that I especially remember:

Kill Bill v1

Catwoman
dpowers
post #11  on November 5, 2004 - 7:57 AM PST  
> Nothing like the time we unleashed Nina Chonin and her gay and masturbation subplots in Harry Potter 3 last summer.

neva! neva chonin! she's also a hoot.

> His reader mail column in particular is a great example of...something.

i've seen it, not read it much. those kinds of things are what you miss when you read news online - the information theory of newspapers is really good - not many web sites get near it.
dpowers
post #12  on November 13, 2004 - 11:47 PM PST  
advise and consent was very well done. in the end though i felt as though it was a well-decorated melodrama - complete with robot women and kids-as-witnesses - not clearly a movie about politics, even with the setting. the same could be said about some other films on the list.

maybe todd haynes pulled the far from heaven husband's-secret-life subplot out of this?
Eoliano
post #13  on November 14, 2004 - 9:12 AM PST  
> advise and consent was very well done.

Did you rent a video tape?

> maybe todd haynes pulled the far from heaven husband's-secret-life subplot out of this?

I think you're right dp. In fact, when I first saw Far From Heaven, it recalled some very distinct scenes in Advise and Consent, i.e. when Don Murray's character is set up and blackmailed, then maybe coming clean with his wife, etc., though ultimately he doesn't find a way out like Dennis Quaid's character... please refresh my memory...
dpowers
post #14  on November 14, 2004 - 2:52 PM PST  
yes. letterboxed to boot. good transfer. i think i would have liked for it to have been in color, i'm not so big a fan of gray 'scope. it starts to look muddy unless you go very expressive like strangelove.

> when Don Murray's character is set up and blackmailed, then maybe coming clean with his wife, etc., though ultimately he doesn't find a way out like Dennis Quaid's character...

this is one of the things that haynes is always doing, getting you to the point in the source stories where a character would just collapse and be crushed under the wheels of social pressure, and instead having the character seek their own personal path out of the situation.

advise and consent has a couple scenes where women are talking and their conversation is without a shred of individuality. when impressions are proven wrong, the woman who was corrected has no feelings and simply accepts the information with a smile. this person could say, "i love dogs," and have another character say, "we believe dogs are a violation of nature," and as long as the nobody in the dog lover's life liked dogs, the dog-lover would offer no opposition, because women in this tradition argue nothing of their own interest. they opine only from their sub-rational loyalty to the opinions of the men in their life, including their own kids.

in other words, the women are nothing but social pressure given legs and a spotless smile. like an advertisement.

right at the beginning of advise and consent we get three women, all diplomatic wives, talking together in the gallery of the senate. it's expository, discussing the superficial differences between US senate and european parliament seating conventions. that a woman gives us this introduction tells us that what the authors wish to say about how things are done in america is indisputable - because she is not a rational actor, she is a mouthpiece for a pure rationalism that she understands intuitively, as a woman should. and her statements, confirming her utter faith in the tradition, are the most clear statement of a major theme of the film, that power is a high social honor and should only be wielded by those who are socially acceptable.

the film is incredibly flattering to society women. according to the trailer of the film the book was the #1 bestseller for more than a year and if it had that same attitude, that washington (and american policy) was driven by a fairly "feminine" sense of propriety, i can picture all these women's book groups all over the country just gushing for the thing.

far from heaven parodies one of these girl-talk scenes very well. we get an eyeful of how a person bound up in the rules of melodrama would be suffering extraordinary psychic pain at having to express her desires within the tightly restricted bounds of pure white motherhood.

in advise and consent, the murray-quaid character pushes his scandalous past down, literally into a muddy gutter puddle. we're offered a parallel, in the flirtation with communism of the fonda character and the majority leaders' treatment of this as a youthful indiscretion, perhaps as a way for the audience to forgive murray-quaid, but then like you said, he meets with a film-board-appropriate end, confirming the conclusion that even in the highest legislative body of a proudly democratic society, there is such a thing as being too different to live.

kinda brutal.

anyway walter pidgeon was a lead character, essentially playing the role of the family doctor. nothing else says "women's movie" quite so well.

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