Kudos to Dick Polman for his review of Swing Vote. Having used my new – as an unspoken agreement of marriage – yearly quota of movies I can see in the theater on The Dark Knight, I will be taking his advice and saving it for rental or illegal download throug BitTorrent.
May favorite part of the post, however, is towards the bottom with his list of recommended political movies:
Being There (1979). A surreal comedy-drama starring Peter Sellers as a simpleton named Chance, whose every vacuous utterance is taken as wisdom by the Washington crowd.
Bob Roberts (1992). The liberal themes are a tad shrill, but Tim Robbins’ tale of a scary yuppie who runs for the Senate in Pennsylvania, while ripping off Bob Dylan, makes great use of the mock-documentary format.
The Candidate (1972). Robert Redford’s portrayal of Bill “All the Way” McKay, an anti-poverty activist forced to compromise while running for the Senate in California, holds up very well. Especially when he wins and asks his consultant, “What do we do now?”
The Manchurian Candidate (1962). This lacerating satire of anti-communist paranoia did lousy box office when it was first released, but its stature as a terrifying allegory is unassailable today.
Wag the Dog (1997). When Barry Levinson filmed this devilish piece, about a White House that fakes a war in order to divert attention from a presidential sex scandal, he never could have imagined that the real thing (Monica Lewinsky) would coincide with the film’s release. A great meditation on political/media trickery.
Runners-up: Advise and Consent, All the President’s Men, Charlie Wilson’s War, Dave, The Best Man.
I’ll throw my support to Dave and The Candidate for the content and message of the films and add in The American President for its inimitable Sorkinism and for being the skeleton around which The West Wing was built. In fact, if you’re recovering from major surgery that has left you in traction for the next two weeks, get your home health aid to load the entire run of TWW into the DVD player.
Make your own suggestions to this list in the comments!