Jan. 14, 2013

Politics & Hollywood

In my opinion  "All The Presidents Men" is the greatest political movie ever made and was not quite the box office favorite (due to the times) that "Lincoln," "Argo" and "Zero Dark Thirty" are. I'm just glad that people are into the political movies again.

This (2012-13) has been a year of political movies and portrayals and Hollywood has gone to town to celebrate itself. From "Argo" to "Lincoln" to "Zero Dark Thirty," the public has fed it's insatiable appetite for these biopicks and political docudramas and retelling of stories in a way that drives more people to the box office.

I have seen all three movies and am impressed with each one for different reasons.

Ben Affleck is a very underrated Hollywood star. He was the more-maligned of the Matt Damon-Ben Affleck duo that gave us 1997's "Good Will Hunting." Affleck was often portrayed as the less-talented actor-screenwriter to get that Oscar back in the day. I disaggree with that assesment. I have enjoyed movies like "Chasing Amy" and "The Town" (which he also directed). This cat is meticulous and tells a story in a gripping way. "Argo" has humor, detailed political drama and great acting performances. The story is true and feels totally truthful the whole time. Hats off for a great effort that will long outlive "Zero Dark Thirty."

Katheryn Bigelow is a good director. Her "Zero Dark Thirty" is a great follow-up to "Hurt Locker." It doesn't seem as truthful. The torture scenes are overdone. The politics are too internalised in the confines of the intelligence community. Jessica Chastain is fantastic. To me she IS the movie. Her story is gripping and it is interesting to note that the REAL woman the story is based on is anonymous. This woman is not known to the public and that is a shame. I wish Bigelow would have incorporated the thinking of the White House a little more into her movie, but it is gripping nontheless.

I'm saving "Lincoln" for last. This was my favorite of the three movies and it is about "political Process." Steven Spielberg will likely get Best Director and this will get a bunch of Oscars when all is said and done. Tony Kushner wrote a great screenplay, but do NOT forget Doris Kearns Goodwins book "Team of Rivals," in which the movie comes from. Since we have no recorded film or tape on Lincoln, I believe Daniel Day Lewis's Lincoln will be how he is remembered forevermore. Spielberg's details are amazing and REALLY give the viewer a sense what it was probably like to be alive in 1864-5. Fantastic recreation and dioalogue.

I compare this movie ("Lincoln") to the GREATEST (in my opinion) Political movie ever made, which is also about process: "All The Presidents Men." That movie was produced and starred Robert Redford, who was involved early on with Woodward & Bernstein. He procurred the movie rights for that brilliant book BEFORE it was written. Redford talked the two newspaper writers into focusing that book on their process for following the trail to get Nixon out.

I just watched it again today and was amazed how great Alan Pakula's direction was. Please check out "All The Presidcents Men" again if you haven't recently. It is as good or better than any other political movie ever made.

These three new movies are worthy of mentioning with that movie for different reasons. I believe "Argo" & "Lincoln" will be among the best of all time. "Zero Dark Thirty" is a great thriller, but not quite in the class of  "All The Presidcents Men."