The Ides of March (9/10)
by Tony Medley
Run time 96
Believe it or
not, even though this is directed and written by George Clooney (with
Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon, based on his play), this is not an
ideological movie. Clooney plays a Democrat politician, governor Mike
Morris, running for the Democrat nomination for President. The setting
is the race for the Ohio primary. Morris mouths all the same idiotic
platitudes all today's Democrats parrot, like "the rich must pay their
fair share," and "we have to get out of paying for all the oil in Saudi
Arabia" and stuff like that. Since this is a Democrat primary one never
hears the illogic of these litanies, like the fact that the top 10% of
income earners pay 72% of all income taxes, so what do Democrats
determine to be their "fair share?"
fortunately, this isn't about politics. It's about the process, not
unlike Robert Redford's 40-year-old film The Candidate (1972).
Unlike that film, however, the protagonist is not the candidate (Redford
in that film, Clooney in this). It's about the managers of the two
campaigns, Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Tom Duffy (Paul
Giamatti). The actual protagonist is Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling),
Zara's 30-year-old idealistic top assistant.
extremely well-written script with twists rivaling the best thrillers,
and in the end, that's what this is, a thriller. Clooney directs with a
deft touch, bringing the film in at an appealing 96 minutes, greatly
helped by wonderfully atmospheric music by Alexandre Desplat, and tight
editing by Stephen Mirrione. Evan Rachel Wood also contributes a fine
performance in a key role.
criticism I have of the movie is that there are far to many ECU's
(extreme Close-ups) to suit my taste. The first third of the movie is
full of them. In the last two-thirds of the film the camera finally
pulls back for more normal shots. In my original review I blamed
Director of Photography Phedon
Papamichael for these disconcerting shots. But here's
what a good friend of mine who is a DP told me after reading my original
and editing is ultimately the responsibility of the Director...no
doubt the DP and Director shot various focal lengths of each
character in each scene...the editor with the direction of the
Director decides which shot to use in the movie, the DP has
absolutely no say in it, especially in a film of this budget and
with these stars. If you watch Michael Clayton again, you will see
extreme close ups of Clooney throughout the films...he's the one who loves those close
ups...and it's his call in every film he directs.
captures the cynicism not only of hypocritical candidates like Morris,
who isn't close to what he appears to be from the campaign rostrum, but
of the managers who run most political campaigns.
The acting is
exceptional throughout. The game I played when I came out of the movie
was to try to determine who among the main cast, Gosling, Clooney,
Hoffman, and Giamatti, all of whom gave award-deserving performances,
was the best. And that's a tough call, so good were they all. I did,
however, make a choice...
October 5, 2011