Vote Early, Vote Often: Election Movies
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Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
No election year would be complete without Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. As poignant as it was in 1939, nothing beats those election blues like hearing Jimmy Stewart's voice ring out that eternal question: "What happened to freedom?"
On the opposite end of the spectrum, but no less relevant, is Alexander Payne's Election, about ethical transgressions committed around a high school election campaign. Reese Witherspoon's character Tracy Enid Flick has inspired troubling comparisons with Hilary Clinton: “[The competition] think they can just all of a sudden, one day, out of the blue, waltz right in with no qualifications whatsoever and try to take away what other people have worked very, very hard for their entire lives.
Unprecedented is a great, hard-hitting documentary about the 2000 scam-paign. Joan Sekler and Richard R. Perez take you through the premeditated Florida voter fraud courtesy of Jeb Bush.
Nixon (1995) (1996)
In case this election campaign has sparked a little innocent hope, be sure to douse it with Oliver Stone's audacious, epic psychodrama Nixon, which features arguably one of Anthony Hopkins' best performances. "They can't impeach me for bombing Cambodia. The president can bomb anybody he likes.
The Candidate (1972)
Robert Redford's Oscar-winning (for Ring Larner's screenplay) campaign in The Candidate was highly cynical in 1972 and, alas, as timely as ever. Peter Boyle and Melvyn Douglas lend capable support. (I've heard that Groucho Marx has a cameo, but have yet to spot him, so maybe it's apocryphal.)
For bleak, black comedy about the absurdity of war (which doesn't hit home now or anything), I never miss an excuse to watch Dr. Strangelove Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb. One highlight: Peter Sellers' inimitable delivery (as the American president) of "You can't fight in here! This is the War Room!"
Which leads us to... The War Room, the illuminating vérité doc about the 1992 Clinton campaign from D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, in which campaign manager James Carville becomes a star (and now he's really acting, playing the Governor in .Assassination of Jesse James
For a refresher on the perils of computerized voting, there's Hacking Democracy put together by Simon Ardizzone and Russell Michaels.
Warren Beatty's squirmy, ballsy political satire on a politician who loses it - or does he - during a campaign, transforming himself into a hip-hop rhyming, no-BS, suicidal campaigner. (Sample rhyme: "We've got people in this country that can't even buy a meal! Ask a brother who's been downsized if he's gettin' any deal. Or a white boy bustin' ass till they put him in his grave, he ain't gotta be a black boy to be livin' like a slave. ") If only.
Originally posted at GreenCine Central by GreenCine contributor Monica Peck --- Buck up, folks. The Pennsylvania primary this week may be the decider of the Democratic candidate in November. It's high time to revisit some fine politically minded movies to stir our electoral souls... here is some required viewing to gear up for another tumultuous election year.
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