Ides of March

The Ides of March

****

 

I do not like politics one bit. And I like this movie about politics quite a lot.

If your child dreams of running for president some day, I recommend that you make him or her watch “The Ides of March.” That is unless you actually want your child to become President of the United States! You don’t, do you?

I was watching Texas clinch its second straight American League championship last week and I saw George W. Bush sitting next to Rangers executive Nolan Ryan. Bush looked optimistic and relaxed; he was enjoying the simple pleasure of seeing his team win a big game.

It made me think about how sad it is for W that he let people convince him to run for office. His life would have been calmer, more satisfying, and happier – infinitely happier – if he had stuck with his job as owner of the Texas Rangers instead of entering politics.

“The Ides of March” tells the relentlessly bleak tale of Democratic presidential contender Mike Morris (George Clooney) and his hotshot young campaign advisor (played by Ryan Gosling).

It is just days before the hugely important Ohio primary. The Morris team knows that a win in Ohio will shore up the nomination, and they are willing to do just about anything to ensure victory. A shocking amount of deception and double-dealing ensues.

“The Ides of March” is amazingly good. I think that one of the reasons why it is underperforming at the box office is that the poster is a boring image of half of Clooney’s head next to half of Gosling’s head. What does that even mean?

I have a better idea. The movie poster should be George Clooney in a toga, laying on the floor of the Roman Senate, bleeding to death. Ryan Gosling is standing over the fallen leader, clutching a dripping dagger. Clooney looks up at his treacherous friend in anguish, as if to say: “Et tu, pretty boy?”

I hope more people see this movie and begin to appreciate how impressive George Clooney is as a director.

Clooney is the new Clint Eastwood. Like Eastwood, Clooney is a mediocre actor – with a lot of charisma but not much talent or range. But like Eastwood, when Clooney gets behind the camera he’s magic.

Clooney paints a vivid picture of the political world as a gigantic pool of mud.

It doesn’t matter how you clean and innocent you are. If you jump in to politics, you will become irredeemably dirty. Or you will drown.

“The Ides of March” is the first great film of the Oscar season. It is substantive, entertaining, and uncompromising. Bravo.

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