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06 September 2004 — The Movie Post (2)

So, I've been tracking our Netflix activity for a year now, and have been pretty reliable about posting mini-reviews. Some time ago, Paul J. asked if I'd do the same for films I see in the theater. Now seems like a good time to start.

This entry, then, will serve as a continuing log of the films I see, and (very) short comments about them. If you have strong feelings about a film, I'd encourage you to post them here.

Tonight we went to see The Manchurian Candidate, our first film since, well...since I don't know when. Spider-Man 2?

I've seen the 1962 version of The Manchurian Candidate several times (including once on the big screen), and I'm always surprised at how much I like it. It's an enthralling conspiracy film, full of mystery and brainwashing and assassination:

In Korea in 1952, a US Army patrol is ambushed by Communist soldiers. A year later the squad, having escaped, returns to the US, where Staff Sergeant Raymond Shaw is to receive the Medal of Honor for single-handedly saving the lives of the squad. Shaw is the son of Elanor Iselin, wife of US Senator John Yerkes Iselin, and Mrs. Iselin turns the return of Raymond into a political rally that brings out building hostility between son and mother over the ambitions of Johnny Iselin. But there is more involved, for the actions of Raymond Shaw are not what everyone believes they are, and the nightmares of a US Army officer, Bennett Marco, leads to investigation of Raymond that unlocks a stunning political conspiracy that sweeps up Johnny and Elanor Iselin, and which only Bennett Marco can possibly stop.

I quite liked the remake, more than I expected to. Denzel Washington finds the right pitch as Marco, somewhere between paranoid and competent. More impressive, though, are Jonathan Demme's direction, and the clever adaptation, which, among other changes, converts the literal Manchurians of the first film to a power-hungry transnational corporation for the modern version.

Here then in my first capsule review for this entry. (As in my Netflix reviews, the movie summaries come from elsewhere, in this case from the Internet Movie Database. In the case of this film, I've had to correct the summary, which was riddled with errors.)

The Manchurian Candidate (2004) — When his army unit was ambushed on the eve of the Gulf War, Sergeant Raymond Shaw saved his fellow soldiers just as his commanding officer, Major Ben Marco, was knocked unconscious. Brokering the incident for political capital, Shaw eventually becomes a vice-presidential nominee, while Marco is haunted by dreams of what happened — or didn't happen — in Kuwait. As Marco investigates, the story begins to unravel, to the point where he questions if it happened at all. Is it possible the entire unit was kidnapped and brainwashed to believe Shaw is a war hero as part of a plot to seize the White House? Some very powerful people at Manchurian Global Corporation appear desperate to stop him from finding out. 130 min. [released: 30 Jul 04, viewed: 06 Sep 04, Ebert: ***, Tomato-meter: 81% - 7.2] B+ Effective adaptation of a classic thriller. Denzel Washington does a fine job here, though Meryl Streep seems, well, odd. The start is a slow, a little confusing, but the film really picks up speed as it rolls along. I like it.

Note that there's been some talk that this film is "more partisan than Farenheit 9/11". I don't see it. Some people are just paranoid, looking for conspiracies everywhere they can.

Other films I'm anxious to see: Donnie Darko (director's cut), Garden State, and Hero. If I'm lucky, I'll get all three of these in during the next week.

Ha ha.

I slay me.

When we came out of the theater, we discovered that Pam's car had a flat tire. Mac and I changed the tire while Kris and Pam stood around and kibitzed. We had a surprisingly difficult time because the jack in Pam's car — and the one in my car — didn't have an extension. This made it difficult to turn the crank. What gives? Have automobile manufacturers stopped supplying jacks with extensions?

On this day at foldedspace.org

2005Book Survey   I never have much success when I ask for audience participation directly, but this is an easy one. If you read this entry, I'd appreciate it if you left a brief comment telling me about the books you read.

2003Saturday Morning Cartoons   In which I remember getting up to watch cartoons on Saturday: Super Friends, Bugs Bunny, and more. In which I no longer get up to watch cartoons, but the cats entertain me nonetheless.

2001BookNet Ltd.   In a fit of extreme weakness yesterday, I fell for some college students going door-to-door selling magazine subscriptions.

On 07 September 2004 (08:21 AM), pam said:

thanks for your help with the tire - it made it a lot easier for me to stand around and do nothing.

On 07 September 2004 (12:05 PM), nate said:

I heartily recommend Garden State. Probably the best movie I've seen all year. People reactions to it are night and day, though; your mileage may vary.

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