Today marks Nov. 6, which means America’s electorate will go out to voting booths, and electors will cast their votes according to their will. With today being the day ballots are officially tallied and winners decided, The State Press presents a list of films and TV shows that seem fitting to watch while awaiting the announcement of the next U.S. president.
“All The President’s Men” (1976)
Bob Woodward’s daughter once saw this film, which is based on Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s reporting on the Watergate scandal, and commented that it was boring — a somewhat accurate, yet superficial truth. Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman painstakingly assemble the makings of a conspiracy, piece by piece. Much of its principle pleasure derives from the viewer living vicariously through the two on the hunt. The film defends the freedom of the press as an effective process when called upon.
“The War Room” (1993)
Before they lent their personalities to beer advertisements and “Good Morning America,” James “The Ragin’ Cajun” Carville and George Stephanopoulos worked on Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. Partisan ideology takes a backseat as these two tenacious, yet smooth, political strategists play on the offensive against Clinton’s opponents. The access given to filmmakers D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus lend a casual sensibility to the documentary, which follows Clinton from fifth place candidate to president-elect.
“The Paper” (1994)
“Why correct the story tomorrow when you can try to get it right today?” is the noble lesson presented in “The Paper,” an ostensive comedy that cleverly embeds the message throughout. Michael Keaton and Glenn Close star as quirky reporters at a New York Post-type publication who square off over the handling of a breaking story over the course of one crucial day.
Politicians lie through their teeth, speak in tired generalities and are as unreliable and shifty as their opponents. Warren Beatty portrays such a figure with Democratic Sen. Jay Billington Bulworth, a warped veteran politician facing an uphill re-election campaign. He finds a second wind once he drops the inoffensive platitudes and speaks the taboo thoughts on everyone’s minds. Bulworth’s satire of the political system is full of unspoken truths, which resonate more in 2012 than they did in 1998.
“The West Wing” (1999-2006)
The era of politics that the series engages in seems like eons ago, especially when compared to the current government stalemate. Still, “The West Wing” alternates between life affirming and politically optimistic in many moments. It gives humility to a profession that is forever associated with corruption. A definitive moment comes in the episode “Let Bartlet Be Bartlet” when the Chief of Staff Leo McGarry (John Spencer) tells the president’s inner circle that even if they don’t get re-elected, they will have raised the “level of public debate in this country,” and that will be their legacy. Beautiful.
“In The Loop” (2009)
Armando Iannucci’s film about British and American political staffers advocating war becomes an even more remarkable comedy because of its perception of the real world it parallels. The film smartly portrays its participants as awful people that often act in self-interest rather than for the common good, yet are hilariously good at self-deprecation. Iannucci realizes that minions are the ones that change history now, not heads of state. “In The Loop” includes a show-stopping performance by Peter Capaldi whose acidic acting is one of the finest comedic characters in some time.
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