Friday, January 20, 2012

Movie Review : Ides of March

Politics is a Loser's Game

Workers saw the movie Ides of March, funded in part I believe by Titanic money (it was co-produced by Leo DiCaprio), based on a play called "Farragut North" by Beau Williman.

For readers not familiar with the ways of Wash DC our nation's capital, Farragut North is the metro stop for Gucci Gulch, the heart of beltway bandicy, so thus the movie is about the politics of politics. About lobbyists, political consultants, playing to the primacy of the polls and whatever manipulation and sell-out it takes to get the delegates or to get the interns or for the interns to get to those in political power (no more about that here, but fundamental to the plot).

George Clooney plays a congressman gunning for the Democrat presidential nomination, and gets kudos for not stereo-typically making (American) liberals seem the answer to all that ails us. The movie is interesting for more than this. There is not a single redeemable character or action or idea in the movie, yet the movie comes-off as good entertainment (something about tragedy or watching people be mean to each-other that appeals I guess. Just watch any TV show, reality TV or not. And Americans do watch an average of 5 hours a day).

In fact for those of us against government coercion, the film is quite good. There is a scene where Clooney's character says in a brain-storming session full of his campaign staff that he would like to introduce "public service" to his campaign, where college grads could get their (no doubt government-subsidized) school loans clean-slated if they did "public service", which of course would then be the cure to the nation's unemployment ills (of course the nation's out-of-control-debt and the dollar down-grade is not mentioned: it is a Hollywood film after-all.)

One of the paid political consultants then says why don't we take it abit further and require government service. After-all, it would only apply to those less than 18 years-old today, and they can't vote anyway. All agreed, a brilliant idea.

So you get the cynical tone of the movie and of, well, mainstream American politics.

The Philip Seymour Hoffman character, who - spoiler alert - gets booted from the campaign due to a rival's blackmailing of the candidate - moves on to a million-dollar-a-year job in the Gucci Gulch. Experience with cynical manipulation pays the 1% in our nation's capital. Sad, but true.