Sunday, October 09, 2011
You, Sir, are no Bill McKay
Bill McKay is the fictional Senator from California, played by Robert Redford in The Candidate. I wanted The Ides of March to be a reworking of that great Redford film and completely nail our political process.
I had these hopes because, well, Clooney is following in Redford's footsteps. He doesn't comment on his private life, uses his star power to make important movies (Good Night and Good Luck) as well as fun ones (Ocean's 11), and while everything he's in may not be successful, it is dependably high quality. And I admire his devotion to Darfur.
Of course, George Clooney doesn't consult me before he makes a movie, and that may be a good thing, because The Ides of March is a very good thriller. It wasn't the film I wanted, but it's a fun afternoon at the movies.
So many people have their panties in a bunch over George's politics, but this movie (which he cowrote, directed and appears in) is pretty low on the ideology. What's there is thoughtfully cynical, and, I suppose, designed to speak for those of us who are disillusioned with Obama. I'm just not as certain that the system inevitably corrupts good people, and I do hold out hope for heroes, so the national view that Clooney was espousing is one I reject anyway.
But the plot takes a couple pretty neat turns -- one I saw coming a mile away, which added to the tension, and one that came completely out of left field. So it was a movie I enjoyed.
Redford may be the more seasoned, thoughtful filmmaker. But there's something to be said for a movie that makes you catch you breath while you're sitting there in the dark. So for that, I thank you, George.
PS As in Good Night and Good Luck, Clooney hasn't given himself a very big part. This movie really belongs to Ryan Gosling. And he does a fine job with it. Poor Evan Rachel Wood, though. So far this year I've seen her Veda in Mildred Pierce, Mary Surratt's daughter in The Conspirator (there's Redford again) and now this. I hope that someday soon someone lets her play a singing governess or something a bit more sunny.