Politics at the movies

Coming soon...to a multiplex from hell...Politics at the Movies
     Here we are at the mid-summer mark. As it has turned out to be a particularly tragedy-laced   summer internationally - the shooting-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 17 in Ukraine; the explosive and deadly bombings and killings in Gaza; the strange and tragic crash of Air Algerie in Mali...and now an Ebola outbreak in West Africa! If one cares about the world, it's not exactly the hazy, lazy days of summer, is it? 
     Laura Peck and I have been traveling - to Washington, Boston (where we completed the Certificate program, Teaching the Case Study Method at the Harvard Business School), Toronto, Labrador, Halifax and a few other places - all for work, alas, but I've tried to squeeze in a day here and there to read, think, swim and try to enjoy a pretty hit-and-miss summer when it comes to weather.
     Along with an occasional media interview, I've even managed to read a few books! Based on the recommendation of my daughter, Caroline, right now I'm deep into the second of a planned trilogy of novels about the life Cicero, by Robert Harris. The first was Imperium and the second - that I also can't put down - is Conspirata (I hope by the time I finish it Robert Harris will have announced the publication of the closing chapter!). Who knew that in the 60s B.C. they played politics as dirty and as personal as today? Now there's fewer murders, but more political deaths by Twitter® and smart phone videos. They would make a great premium cable mini-series for sure..... all of which leads me into the theme of this summer version of my blog post.
For Your Consideration...Politics at the Movies
Here are some sequels, re-makes and other summer flicks that you may want to consider as we head into the second half of summer. Will they be enough to rescue the anemic Hollywood Box Office this summer?
Putin in his first role as a typical tourist.

1. A Most (Un) Wanted Man... Now that Navi Pillay, the U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights, has labelled what happened to the shooting down - and the crash site aftermath - of Malaysia Air Flight 17, a 'war crime', perennial bad buy Vladimir Putin has done it again.

Harper freezes Putin's assets

However, in this international thriller, Putin comes head-to-head with Canada's own Stephen Harper who smacks him down by freezing his assets and those of his cronies. Will it be enough to stop the 'Back in the U.S.S.R.' tendencies of nemesis Putin? Not so fast, as Vlad [played by aging martial arts "star" Steven Seagal, who is a vocal admirer of Putin] is every bit the conniving vicious thug that one always suspected he was.

Seagal and his pal Vlad
[Spoilers ahead!] Reports that he has managed to squirrel away $40 billion into his personal bank accounts, real estate and other nefarious 'investments' just pours salt into the wounds of those who have been particularly outraged by his Ukrainian atrocities. Vlad has played the role of villain to an extent that not even John Le Carré could have imagined. Not satisfied with stealing territories that don't belong to him, Seagal shows Putin stealing upwards of $40 billion through state-sanctioned extortion and bullying on the home front. The real question is, will EU countries turn a blind eye in hopes of maintaing their oil and gas imports? Will Harper be able to rally his fellow G7 leaders to avert a global catastrophe? You don't want to miss this climax!

Bill threatens to upstage Barack
2. A Solitary Man... After years of disappointment in his dreams and dealing with his unhappy arranged marriage to the Republican-led Congress, Barack Obama [Denzel Washington] has mentally checked out from his life (but with none of the creepy fantasies and drugs from the original movie). Barack Obama has been hit with a lot of criticism as his career seems to be running out of gas. Critics say that he is 'dis-engaged' with all the big issues - while fund-raising, playing golf and dining with his Hollywood pals. Does his 'no-drama Obama' persona give people the impression that he's lost interest? As the movie reveals, Barack is never going to be the Bill Clinton 'feel your pain' kind of President no matter what. But can he pull it together for a final act to cap his career? Stay tuned!
3. Secondary Colors... With Emma Thompson reprising her Primary Colors role, this sequel switches focus as Bill [played once again by John Travolta] plays second fiddle to Hillary who is gearing up  for the Presidency in 2016. All jokes about pants suits and bad hair days have fallen by the wayside as Hillary proves she's up for the role of her lifetime. Yes, she stumbles - in one poignant scene, she tries to relate to ordinary folks, claiming she and Bill were essentially 'broke' when they left office. (Somehow, knowing each had a multi-million dollar book deal awaiting their signatures, triggered audience hisses and boos in the screening I attended.) Her speech-making fees  -  upwards of $250,000 - puts her in the category of ... well....Bill! So, there will be no pity party for her as she revs up her campaign early in the New Year. Although nothing is a done deal (as she herself learned in 2008), this movie promises that Hillary will be a formidable candidate. No more 'Tammy-Wynette-stand-by-your-man' for her. The only vacuuming going on in this movie is the dollars from the pockets of Democrat donors. 
House of Cards- Trudeau, Harper, Mulcair
4. House of Cards: Another Foreign Adaptation... Frank Underwood would have a field day with this trio of politicos up north. The versatile Kevin Spacey hits the mark with this Canadian Netflix-only version of the political drama. This Hollywood North taxpayer-subsidized soap opera highlights the looming horse race in the 2015 federal election race, among Stephen Harper [Kevin Spacey], Justin Trudeau [Rob Lowe] and Thomas Mulcair [Tommy Lee Jones - he's can't capture the 'bearded Canadian intellectual' side of Mulcair, but he can play the crotchety aspects in his sleep]. The movie shows that anything can happen in an election campaign.  It deftly illustrates what happened in recent provincial campaigns - Quebec and Ontario when the pundits had it wrong.  The RCMP's laying of 31 charges against Mike Duffy [deftly played by SNL's Bobby Moynihan] triggers Tommy Lee Jones - as Mulcair - to play the defining role of his career - as the coldly incisive prosecutor. Although Mr. Mulcair would be best to remember that no one loves the prosecutor.

So, as we approach the Mid-Summer Night long weekend, it's perhaps the last chance for Hollywood to recover from a less-than-stellar box office summer. Let's hope that the movie of your summer beats anything that you see here! 

Until next time.....

1 comment:

  1. With the insanity spreading around the world, maybe it's time to take a Mid-summer break and have a laugh.