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THE IDES OF MARCH Thread

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  • Anonymous
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    #35564

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    Scottferguson
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    #35566

    So-so NYTimes/Tony Scott review, not changing the notion that this will quickly fade from attention –

     

    Estranged Bedfellows
    By A. O. SCOTT

    Mike Morris, the governor of Pennsylvania in “The Ides of March,” is an image of the liberal heart’s desire, and not only because he is played by George Clooney. Morris, who keeps his cool while inflaming the passions of Democratic primary voters, is a committed environmentalist and a forthright secularist who sidesteps questions about his faith by professing that his religion is the United States Constitution. He is against war and in favor of jobs, though the economy figures much less in his fictitious campaign than it will in the real one just around the corner.

    In spite of Morris’s party affiliation and expressed positions — which are tailored to sound both vague and provocative — “The Ides of March” is not an ideological fairy tale. It is easy enough, while watching Morris in action, to substitute a different set of talking points and imagine the governor as a Republican dream candidate, smoothly defending low taxes and traditional values in the same seductive whisper. (Who is the right-wing George Clooney? Is Tom Selleck still available?)

    But it is difficult, really, to connect this fable to the world it pretends to represent. Whatever happens in 2012, within either party or in the contest between them, it seems fair to say that quite a lot will be at stake. That is not the case in “The Ides of March,” which is less an allegory of the American political process than a busy, foggy, mildly entertaining antidote to it.

    Morris, locked in a battle for the nomination with a colorless (and barely seen) Senator Pullman (Michael Mantell), is a bit of a cipher, or perhaps a symbol. He stands for an ideal of political charisma that the film, directed by Mr. Clooney and based on the play “Farragut North” by Beau Willimon, sets out to tarnish. And yet it seems doubtful, after more than a decade of scandal, acrimony and bare-knuckled media brawling, that this noble fantasy exists anywhere but in the minds of writers and actors who look back fondly on the glorious make-believe administrations of Henry Fonda and Martin Sheen.

    “You stay in this business long enough, you get jaded and cynical,” one campaign staffer says to another. “The Ides of March” sets out first to rebut this bit of conventional wisdom, then to reaffirm it. It is in large part the tale of a professional politico’s loss of innocence. Not Morris’s, but that of Stephen Meyers, a young hotshot on the governor’s campaign staff who is played, with sad-eyed intensity, by Ryan Gosling. His prodigious talents are mentioned rather than shown, but we can accept that he is both a dazzling tactical brain and, what’s more, a true believer, working for Morris because he thinks Morris is the last, best hope for America.

    Stephen’s boss is Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman), whose counterpart in the Pullman campaign is Tom Duffy, played by Paul Giamatti. “The Ides of March” feels most alive and truest to its ostensible subject when these two soft-bellied, sharp-tongued schlubs do battle, with the angelic Stephen in the middle. Hovering around him like a crow circling carrion is Marisa Tomei as Ida Horowicz, a New York Times reporter who might be the only journalist covering the campaign or at least the only one with a speaking part in the movie. (Go team!)

    But what political drama there is in this film — will Morris win the Ohio primary? Will his staff cut a deal with a vain and imperious North Carolina senator (Jeffrey Wright)? — is scaffolding rather than substance. As the Shakespearean title suggests, “The Ides of March” has loftier, less time-bound matters on its mind: the nature of honor, the price of loyalty, the ways that a man’s actions are a measure of his character.

    These themes, swathed in Alexandre Desplat’s dark-hued score and Phedon Papamichael’s chocolate-and-burgundy cinematography, come into relief as Stephen encounters turbulence in his career and his personal life. He stumbles into a professional flirtation with Duffy, and almost simultaneously into some hot campaign sex with Molly Stearns (Evan Rachel Wood), a young woman who is — no points for guessing right — an intern. She also has a powerful daddy and a secret in her past that has the potential to send Stephen’s career and the Morris campaign into a tailspin.

    Mr. Clooney handles the plot complications with elegant dexterity. As an actor, he works best in long, understated scenes that allow him to play with nuances of charm and menace, so it is not surprising that, as a director, he gives the rest of the cast room to work. But the parts of “The Ides of March” — quiet scenes between Mr. Gosling and Ms. Wood; swirling, Sorkinesque exchanges of banter; any time Ms. Tomei or Max Minghella (as a campaign worker grooming himself to be the next Stephen Meyers) are in the room — are greater than the whole.

    Somehow, the film is missing both adrenaline and gravity, notwithstanding some frantic early moments and a late swerve toward tragedy. It makes its points carefully and unimpeachably but does not bring much in the way of insight or risk. Powerful men often treat women as sexual playthings. Reporters do not always get things right. Politicians sometimes lie. If any of that sounds like news to you, then you may well find “The Ides of March” downright electrifying.

    More likely, though, you will find it more comforting than inspiring. It deals mainly in platitudes and abstractions, with just enough detail to hold your interest and keep you hoping for something more. Kind of like a campaign speech, come to think of it.

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    Scottferguson
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    #35567

    This is sitting with a mediocre (for a possible Oscar contender) 69 from Metacritic. With its anticipated box office weakness, that probably won’t be enough to make it a serious BP nomination contender, and likely hurts its acting contendors as well.

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    Madson Melo
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    #35568

    my poor Gosling =/

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    Scottferguson
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    #35569

    He’s still getting solid reviews – he can’t be ruled out. He’s just no longer quite as strong as it seemed he might be.

     

    My sense of the reviews is that a lot of them though are pushing the supporting performances more.

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    simone
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    #35570

    I saw it at TIFF. It was ok, a very standard political drama that offered up nothing new in its plot formula. Filmed here in Ann Arbor.

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    babypook
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    #35571

    We’ll see.

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    babypook
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    #35572

    ‘Ides of March’ a star-spangled political warning

    By Steven Rea

    Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic

    Never mind Christie. George Clooney is the guy who should be running for president.

    At least the George Clooney who’s standing at the debate podium in the early going of The Ides of March. As Mike Morris, governor of the great state of Pennsylvania, Clooney talks sense about the economy, about the country’s messy military entanglements, about energy, education, taxes. As he tours Ohio, where a make-or-break primary is just days away, he engages students and office workers with neither condescension nor hyperbole, firing up the crowds with a straight-shooting stump speech, and smartly batting back inquiries from the press.

    Next stop: another Pennsylvania address – as in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

    Of course, as the full-of-foreboding title suggests, things take a dire turn in The Ides of March. Adapted from Beau Willimon’s play Farragut North, with a screenplay by Clooney and Grant Heslov, and with Clooney directing (as he did on his riveting Edward R. Murrow period piece, Good Night, and Good Luck), this taut cautionary tale explores the dark side of American politics.

    And leaves the viewer to wonder – if anyone’s still wondering – is there a bright side?

    While Clooney’s charismatic candidate is the figure everyone pivots around, the center of gravity in The Ides of March is Stephen Myers, a savvy, idealistic press secretary working to get Gov. Morris into the White House. Ryan Gosling’s performance as Myers is easily among the best work he has done: You can see the intelligence in his eyes, and the passion, as Myers anticipates problems, weighs strategies, manages logistics, and finds time to fool around with a quick-witted young campaign volunteer. Evan Rachel Wood, on a run of good roles lately (her Veda in HBO’s Mildred Pierce was chilling), is the – dare I say it – intern.

    With echoes of many a modern-day campaign that begins with heady fervor and ends in sour disillusion, or worse, in scandal (John Edwards, anyone?), The Ides of March tracks the secret meetings and backroom deal-making that appear to be an inextricable part of the election process. Paul Giamatti hovers menacingly (in his inimitably rumpled way), playing the campaign manager of Morris’ last-standing rival, and Philip Seymour Hoffman is the hard-bitten campaign veteran running things, and thinking things through, for Morris.

    As a director, Clooney makes every moment count. He moves things along briskly, sharply – but also knows when to stop and observe, to take a more distant view. (The way Clooney shoots and frames a key scene in which Hoffman’s Paul Zara steps into a tinted-windowed SUV for a final, fateful meeting is a study in restraint and unforced drama.)

    There isn’t a false note in The Ides of March, and some very fine actors – Jeffrey Wright as a powerful U.S. senator, Marisa Tomei as a predatory political reporter, Jennifer Ehle as Morris’ wife – give substance and nuance to their brief time on screen.

    Talk about a zeitgeist moment: The polls show a nation that has had it with the way government does business, or doesn’t do business. The Ides of March wields its searchlight over our political landscape and finds a battlefield: a bloody ground of cynicism and fatal compromise.

    Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/columnists/steven_rea/20111007__Ides_of_March__a_star-spangled_political_warning.html#ixzz1a4oKS7ol
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    babypook
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    #35573

     
    Movie Review
    The Ides of March (2011)
     
    Reviewed by | Oct 06, 2011

    Owen Gleiberman
    Critic

    EW’s GRADE
    A-

    Details Release Date: Oct 07, 2011; Rated: R; Length: 101 Minutes; Genre: Drama; With: George Clooney, Paul Giamatti, Ryan Gosling and Evan Rachel Wood; Distributors: Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment

    The Ides of March is the fourth feature directed by George Clooney (after Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Good Night, and Good Luck, and Leatherheads), and it’s his best one yet. Actors who become directors tend to focus on performance at the expense of everything else. Clooney certainly brings out the best in his actors, but his driving trait as a filmmaker is that he knows what plays — he has an uncanny sense of how to uncork a scene and let it bubble and flow.

    The movie is a grippingly dark and cynical drama of insider politics, set during the days leading up to an Ohio Democratic presidential primary. Ryan Gosling, proving that he can flirt with sleaze and still make you like him, stars as Stephen Meyers, the idealistic but also shrewdly opportunistic press secretary to Gov. Mike Morris (played by Clooney), a soulful and articulate Obama-in-2008-esque candidate who is promising a new kind of politics. Morris and his team are out to win the endorsement of a senator (Jeffrey Wright) whose rival delegates could clinch Morris the nomination. The movie, adapted from Beau Willimon’s play Farragut North (the screenplay was co-written by Clooney, Grant Heslov, and Willimon), offers a densely shuffled version of actual headline campaign news: not just Obama but the Clinton scandals, Howard Dean, and a nod to Mike Dukakis, all knitted together with cameos by Charlie Rose, Rachel Maddow, and Chris Matthews that (for once) don’t feel like stunt reality gimmicks but are woven into the movie’s texture.

    Early on, there’s a moment that really makes you take notice: Marisa Tomei, as a New York Times reporter, tells Stephen and the governor’s campaign manager (a brilliantly addled Philip Seymour Hoffman) that there’s no way candidate Morris, with his hope-and-change rhetoric, could turn out to be anything but a disappointment. Hmmmm, we wonder…is this going to be the liberal Clooney’s comment on the disenchantment so many Obama supporters feel about the president they once thought of as a savior? Well, sort of. Except that since The Ides of March is about a single primary fight, the movie, while stuffed with political talk-show gabble, isn’t really about policy. It’s about backstabbing, media manipulation, and what campaign managers do when they’re not hatching plans in the war room.

    =

    It’s also about an office intern, played with luscious dazzle by Evan Rachel Wood, who gets into the middle of everything. Yes, the movie turns on a potential sex scandal, which makes it sound like another one of Hollywood’s overheated prestige tabloid melodramas. But it’s not. Clooney, as a filmmaker, packs the events in so tightly, and smartly, that the little ”aha” parallels between the characters and actual politicians aren’t the film’s true hook. They’re just the audience bait. What Clooney is really out to capture, and does, is the acrid, murderously toxic atmosphere of contemporary politics — the double-dealing, magnified by the media, that turns policy into a corrupt game even when it’s being played by ”idealists.” The Ides of March has true storytelling verve, but it also plays like a rite of exorcism. It pulses along like an update of The Candidate fused with a political Sweet Smell of Success — it’s got that kind of noirish fizz.

    Gosling gives a solid and sympathetic performance, even though I couldn’t shake the feeling that he’s a bit miscast. He doesn’t have the brainiac Ivy League glibness of a young political hustler. Hoffman, on the other hand, seems to have been ripped right out of the Beltway, and Paul Giamatti, as a rival campaign manager, acts with a snakish low cunning. As for Clooney, he’s perfect playing an all-too-compelling fiction: an Obama with a sinister side.

    The Ides of March serves up everything we’ve come to know about the dirty business of how campaigns are really run in this country. That may sound like boilerplate cynicism, but what’s new is that Clooney exposes how in our era the thorny process of politics has become the content, blotting out the meaning of policy the way an eclipse blots out the sun. The movie suggests that that’s what occurred in the Obama administration. But it also says a spirit of venomous aggression has entered our politics, one that (the film implies) Obama would do well to embrace more than he has. The Ides of March isn’t profound, but it sure is provocative. It’s a fable of moral urgency, a savvy lament, and a thriller of ideas that goes like a shot. A–

     

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    Edwin Drood
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    #35574

    There appears to be a huge disconnect between print and electronic media critics regarding this film.  Only 67 at Metacritic but a whopping 91 from BFCA.  Reviews from all sources have been generally kind toward the cast but with no consensus on a standout performance.  Unless this makes good money (which I rather doubt), I suspect it may receive no AMPAS nods…

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    Scottferguson
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    #35575

    It’s not really a disconnect – Metacritic and RT numbers mean different things.

    Metacritic lists 38 review for Ides – 30 are what they call good reviews (which would be fresh at RT), which is about 78%, 7 they give a 50 score to, which would be on the cusp of either fresh or rotten, and only 1 is out and out negative (that is, rotten). So if RT took just the real legitimate critics that Metacritic uses, the “fresh” score likely would be close to 90 as well.

    The RT reflects the same thing Metacritic does – that most reviews are at least mildly favorable. What makes Metacritic an infinitely better gauge is that its score reflects intensity of favorability – which is mild in the case of Ides.

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    Riley
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    #35576

     

    I might see this later, but I am not looking forward to it.

     

    The reviews are much lower than they should be for what this is.

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    Lone Pirate
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    #35577

    Other than the transformation of Gosling’s character, there really is not much of note in this film. Clooney had surprisingly little screen time and Tomei was wasted in such a one note, throwaway role.

    I didn’t hate the film but it certainly could have been so much better.

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    Edwin Drood
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    #35578

    It’s not really a disconnect – Metacritic and RT numbers mean different things.

    Metacritic lists 38 review for Ides – 30 are what they call good reviews (which would be fresh at RT), which is about 78%, 7 they give a 50 score to, which would be on the cusp of either fresh or rotten, and only 1 is out and out negative (that is, rotten). So if RT took just the real legitimate critics that Metacritic uses, the “fresh” score likely would be close to 90 as well.

    The RT reflects the same thing Metacritic does – that most reviews are at least mildly favorable. What makes Metacritic an infinitely better gauge is that its score reflects intensity of favorability – which is mild in the case of Ides.

    sf – I never mentioned RT…

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    Scottferguson
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    #35579

    Sorry, misread your post.
    How do the broadcast “critics” do their scale? up/down or qualitative? If the former, it’s the same thing as RT. I’ve never bothered to check how they do it.

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