Monday, October 17, 2011

The Ides of March: D

The Ides of March, originally uploaded by levi2411.

On Saturday, I ditched Scott and Sheena at The Thing and reluctantly saw The Ides of March instead. I would have preferred seeing Moneyball, but it started 90 minutes later than The Thing.

Although I doubt anyone reading this will actually bother seeing this movie.

I usually wait a week or two after seeing a movie to allow the most memorable parts of a movie linger, but in this case I figure I should write out my thoughts as I can only vaguely recall the movie only two days later. This was such a dull political movie laden with bland stereotypes and predictable political cynicism, it seemed like a bad West Wing episode. Primary Colors, Wag The Dog, and The Manchurian Candidate all come to mind as movies with similar political campaign themes with more original and interesting stories.

Ryan Gosling stars as a young, superstar campaign staffer for George Clooney's Obama-like Democrat presidential primary candidate. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti play opposing campaign managers that are completely jaded and interchangeable. The all-star cast's performances were great and kept a predictable story somewhat interesting. After the first half of the movie slowly set-ups the characters and setting for a political scandal to happen, finally a campaign intern affair similar to Bill Clinton or John Edwards is revealed. The story picks up the pace with a few predictable twists and political diatribes including Gosling's climatic confrontation that the one unpardonable rule is that presidents can't fuck the interns. Meh. It was a good line, but not worth building an entire movie on.

And the more I think about it, the more I suspect the writers did build the movie backwards from Gosling's one climatic scene. Why else would the rest of the movie's characters be so bland and one dimensional? To avoid actual political differences being the focus of the story, the movie is set within a party primary in which political differences are indistinguishable. And to avoid race and gender distractions, the main candidates and their staff are cast as white, hetero males. And to avoid the notion that the young woman intern could actually be a victim, the writers go out of their way to show her to be a flirt, unflinching in exercising her right to choose. Basically, the movie confirms the worst stereotypes that Democrats really are sexually amoral who just casually have affairs, hook-ups, and convenient abortions.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Contagion: B

Contagion Movie Poster, originally uploaded by nxusco.

We saw Contagion last month. I liked the movie, but I wouldn't call it "entertaining" with as with a story. It's more similar to a bleak documentary about how bad a swine-flu epidemic could be. Soderbergh did try to keep the movie fast paced and with a bass-beat soundtrack (which Scott hated) that tried to animate scenes of what otherwise are folks in talking on cellphones, blogging, working in labs, and getting sick.

I was mainly interested in the movie after hearing a NPR interview with the author Laurie Garrett. She wanted to make a realistic movie that didn't have silly science like the Dustin Hoffman movie Outbreak. A ridiculous helicopter chase with the heroes saving the day with a monologue and magic monkey serum probably would have made Contagion a bit more entertaining.