Archive for January, 2012

Flush thine integrity down the toilet all ye that enter politics.

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on January 30, 2012 by JonH

Based on the 2008 play Farragut North by playwright Beau Willimon, The Ides of March is a political thriller that follows the tension developing between an idealistic deputy campaign manager, Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling), and the equally idealistic candidate for whom he works, Pennsylvania governor Mike Morris (George Clooney).

Morris is on the hunt to become the democratic presidential candidate and is leading the polls by a slim margin as he and his opponent Arkansas senator Ted Pullman head into Ohio. While campaigning to win the Buckeye state each man is also trying to enlist the support of North Carolina Democratic Senator Franklin Thompson (Jeffrey Wright) and the 365 convention delegates that back him. An association with Thompson would all but seal a victory for whomever he sides with. The rub is that Thompson wants a backroom deal that guarantees him a plum seat in the new administration. The notion of Thompson selling his endorsement to the highest bidder rankles Morris, but nevertheless doesn’t dissuade Morris’s campaign manager Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman) from encouraging him to strike an accord with Thompson.

As the campaign hits its full stride, Meyers gets a call from Pullman’s campaign manager Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti) to meet. Meyers is well aware of the optics in meeting with the enemy camp, but curiosity (and hubris, Zara would later go on to say) gets the best of him. The meeting is a Machiavellian stroke of genius for Duffy as the meeting goes onto have much deeper implications for a number of people on Morris’s side.

Throw an intern into the political mix as Meyers becomes sexually involved with a young woman named Molly Stearns (Evan Rachel Wood) and complicate it by making her father the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee and things really start to unravel for the “good” guys. Through his relationship with Stearns, Meyers discovers a side of Morris that threatens to jeopardize each of their careers.

As both Meyers and Morris become embroiled in an ever deepening game of cat and mouse, which begins to erode all of the noble ideals that each man stood for at the beginning of the film, each must decide just how far they’re willing to go in order to maintain their tenuous hold on the prospects of power.

The film alludes to the day when Caesar was betrayed by his trusted aide Brutus, and much like that plot the film incorporates multiple characters and many threads of narrative. Unlike the death of Caesar, though, the film does not coalesce into a dramatic conclusion underscoring the death of a political man, but the death of man’s integrity when entering the political ring.

The Ides of March is a great story that provides a decent level of intrigue. The acting is believable and Ryan Gosling’s portrayal of Stephen Meyers’ gradual evolution (or de-evolution, as some might say) is remarkably seamless. I do, however, find the movie a bit jaded. I prefer to believe that some politician out there is going to come along and really knock everyone’s socks off with a great mix of ideas and integrity. Someone who is willing to let go power if he or she is unable to execute their mandate. This person just hasn’t made it onto the scene yet.

If you like movies that are story driven, this is worth seeing.

If you like my opinion regarding this movie (aw heck, even if you don’t) why not share it with someone. That sure would be swell.


The Movie(s)-A-Month Club

Posted in Surveys and opinions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2012 by JonH

January is always a good time to start something, make a resolution, a positive change, (a move out of your parents’ basement), that sort of thing. It marks a proverbial rebirth. A time to shed your former self and become the man or woman you always knew you could be.

For me, it marks the ideal time to think about the movies I want to see in the next 12 months.

(Actually, I’m not normally that organized, but my resolution is to be. And it’s all about baby steps, right?)

I like to think that I’ve got diverse interests when it comes to movies. I’ve enjoyed some artsy flicks just as much as I’ve been bored by some action movies. I’ve been surprised by Ryan Reynold just as I’ve been disappointed by Daniel Day Lewis (not really), and I’ve been rendered speechless by movies like The Human Centipede and the Twilight series, and moved to blather on endlessly by movies like The Fantastic Mr. Fox (sounds strange, but read the review).

Anyhow, here’s my list of movies to see for 2012. For each month I’ve included some runners up, if you have the dough. I’d love to hear from all of you regarding what you think. Do my choices suck? Do you agree? Are there other movies to consider?

Without further ado, here you go . . .

January: A Dangerous Method

January’s runner up: Coriolanus

February’s runner up: Lock-out (Sweet, a story about a loose cannon cop who doesn’t play by the rules)
March: Goon (Love the stereotypes: notice Liev Schrieber saying, “eh.”)
March’s runner up: Snowtown

April: Cabin in the Woods
April’s runner up: Intruders
May’s runner up: Dark Shadows (Tim Burton, ’nuff said.)
June: Prometheus
June’s runner up: Jack the Giant Killer
July’s runner up:
August: Paranorman

August’s runner up: Total Recall (Redemption for Dick?)
September: Argo (The story is about six Americans held hostage in Iran in the late 70s. Hmm, sounds kind of like the Canadian Caper).
September’s runner up: Dredd I have faith that Karl Urban as Judge Dredd will be able to redeem this comic book cult classic.
October: Cloud Atlas All I could find was a cover of the book, which itself was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Nebula and Arthur C. Clarke award. This would seem to be no small feat. We need more thoughtful scifi movies. Here’s hoping.
October’s runner up: Frankenweenie T.B. again . . .
November: Skyfall (Ralph Fiennes and Javier Bardem are in this? Hmm, should be cool.)
November’s runner up: Rise of the Guardians (Santa and the Easter Bunny kicking behind.)
December: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
December’s runner up: World War Z

If you like this list, please share it! (Even if you don’t like it, share it!)