HomeVideodrome: Clooney's Political Drama, Criterion Criterions 'Traffic,' and The Two Coreys

This week on the HomeVideodrome podcast, Hunter reviews “The Iron Lady“, we talk The Golden Globes, and of course, we run down this week’s releases. Head on over to The Film Thugs to check it out!

Despite the fact that “The Ides of March” is un filme de George Clooney, which ensures that most of those right-of-center will ignore it, it’s ultimately a movie that anyone who actively keeps up with politics should enjoy, especially during the heat of the Republican primaries. Indeed, “The Ides of March” doesn’t tell you anything you don’t already know, thematically. Politics? Dirty? You don’t say, George. Please, send more of your pearls of wisdom for the masses to consume. What the film does provide, though, is a efficiently plotted, well-acted, engaging thriller, despite its cliched old-hat themes.

Clooney co-stars as a Democratic Presidential candidate in the throes of the primaries, playing as a mix of Bill Clinton’s governor running-on-his-record and Barack Obama’s cult of personality claptrap. This gives Clooney’s character opportunities to espouse what are clearly his own political views from the podium, which contain various liberal talking points and, much like our current president, promises no one could keep, including the elimination of the internal combustion engine in four years and free puppies for everyone. But Clooney wisely keeps his politics in the background for the most part, not using it merely as a vehicle for his views.

George Clooney’s active role in politics has often sparked speculation as to whether or not the actor would run for political office; after all, a handful of actors like Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger have proven that the leap from acting to political office isn’t necessarily a big one. After all, both vocations involve making audiences believe your bullshit. However, Clooney has consistently squashed such speculation by stating that his playboy bachelor reputation would make him unelectable, and “The Ides of March” seems to be an extension of these sentiments. Too bad it’s not necessarily the fact that Clooney goes through women like Kleenex, so much as his la-la-land Hollywood politics (his cruel mocking of Alzheimer’s patients doesn’t help him in my eyes either, however his humanitarian work is certainly deserving of praise).

The star of the show, though, is Ryan Gosling, who turns in an excellent performance as an idealistic young campaign staffer. His character’s bright-eyed liberal idealism gives way to cynicism and thuggery after a series of events that puts his career in a corner against the man he is working for, as he sits on top of a sex-scandal bombshell that could sink his boss’s potential presidency before it’s even begun. Between this and Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, Gosling has had the best year yet for his career, and with a Terrence Malick film and another team-up with Refn on the horizon, things only seem to be getting better for him. The short-sighted wrote him off awhile ago, but his diversity and presence as a leading man are on display in every movie he’s done this year, forcing his critics to pay attention.

“Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” and “Good Night, and Good Luck” both proved that Clooney knows what he’s doing as a filmmaker in terms of tight storytelling. Despite slipping on a banana peel with “Leatherheads”, the man’s head is back in the game here, crafting a political thriller that is pulled tight and engrossing, and also speaks a volumes about Clooney himself and his ego. For political junkies caught up in the fever of the primaries, “The Ides of March” is a solid experience, even if doesn’t really tell you anything you don’t already know.

Available on Blu-ray and DVD

Other Noteworthy Releases

Courageous: A new movie from the team that made the faith-based sleeper hit “Fireproof”. Like “The Grace Card,” it deals with police officers and the challenges they face on the job and at home.

Available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Amazon Instant

Abduction: A “Bourne” knock-off starring Taylor Lautner, whose lack of credibility as an action star is such that I can only imagine that this is an action vehicle geared towards young girls. Too bad they’re too busy watching “Twilight” again.

Available on Blu-ray and DVD

The Tuskegee Airmen: HBO’s version of the story of black Air Force pilots during World War II gets a Blu-ray release, just in case that George Lucas version doesn’t deliver.

Available on Blu-ray

Belle de jour: Luis Buñuel’s film starring Catherine Deneuve as woman living a double life as a Parisian housewife and a bordello prostitute gets the Criterion treatment. Buñuel’s delicious surrealist touch as a director makes this release a must for art-house aficionados.

Available on Blu-ray and DVD

Traffic: Criterion updates their edition of Steven Soderbergh’s multi-stranded drug war tapestry to Blu-ray. I haven’t caught up with “Traffic” for a second viewing since it was first released on video, but now seems like the best time to revisit it.

Available on Blu-ray

License to Drive: A silly pleasure of an eighties teen comedy starring the two Coreys.

Available on Blu-ray

Mysteries of Lisbon: The final film of Raul Ruiz sent the director out on an ambitious note, as he adapted Camilo Castelo Branco’s sprawling novel into an mammoth four-and-a-half hour endeavor. Don’t be put off by the enormous running time, as “Mysteries of Lisbon” comes highly recommended. You just may have to schedule the time in which you plan to see it in well in advance.

Available on Blu-ray and DVD

Bucky Larson – Born to Be a Star: One of those rare films that achieved the incredibly difficult task of aggregating a whopping zero percent freshness rating over at Rotten Tomatoes. Nick Swardson is one of those comedians who can be really funny, but there’s a limit as to how much you can use him in each film before he gets irritating, hence giving him a starring role is an ill-advised move.

Available on Blu-ray and DVD

Killing Bono: The story of brothers in Ireland who start a rock band, but soon see the taillights of opportunity as their classmates rapidly grow into the biggest band in the world, U2.

Available on DVD

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Big Hollywood, Ronald Reagan, George Clooney, Raul Ruiz

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