Curator, Film School Confidential, sdfcs.org
Whether you are rejoicing or reeling from the election, here is a trio of films fit for any election year. Michael Ritchie’s The Candidate, with Robert Redford as a liberal golden boy who gets a little tarnished by the campaign process, still packs a sharp satiric punch some 30 years later.
For the younger crowd, there’s a wickedly funny high school election at the heart of Alexander Payne’s Election. Reese Witherspoon is perfectly annoying as the overachieving Tracy Flick.
And, finally, Robert Altman’s brilliant cable series/mockumentary Tanner ’88, in which Michael Murphy runs as a presidential candidate. Real-life politicians such as Bruce Babbitt and Jesse Jackson mix in with the top-notch cast that includes Pamela Reed. Gary Trudeau’s script still has a savage bite.
The Candidate (USA), 1972, Warner
Election (USA), 1999, Paramount
Tanner '88 - Criterion Collection (USA), 1988, Criterion Collection
Programmer, Lestat’s West Community Film Series
From the opening remarks by former WWII supreme allied commander and president Dwight D. Eisenhower warning of the growing influence of the military-industrial complex to the moving stories relating the human impact of the Iraq war, Why We Fight calls upon Americans to consider who we are as a country and political force in the world. The film questions if the U.S. is a military influence for good and what kind of policies should we pursue globally. All wars are not created equal, and the world will be better off with less of them.
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room is an outstanding exposé of the industry-lobby-government game and how greed can run rampant. Relevant in light of today’s happenings on Wall Street, this documentary looks at how industry can game the system via influence at the highest levels of government — yes we’re talking White House — and how consumers and employees ultimately get victimized.
Why We Fight (USA,) 2006, Sony Pictures
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (USA), 2005, Magnolia
John Huston’s Fat City is a quiet examination of a washed-up, alcoholic boxer (Stacy Keach) who tries to reenter the ring and takes under his wing a young upstart (Jeff Bridges). I fell in love with this constantly evolving portrait of a man forced to accept the fact that the world as he knew it has faded away.
In Solaris, scientist Kris Kelvin learns of a planet’s attempts to communicate with humans, in his case through a replication of his deceased wife. As Kelvin asks himself whether to accept this facsimile or shun it, we begin to understand that although we might want to regain what’s lost, we also must accept the transitory nature of our existence. Intensely philosophical and personal, Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky taught me what it is to let both exist.
Jonathan Glazer’s Birth, a metaphysical take on eternal love, offers a haunting take on loss and the mystery of life and love.
Fat City (USA), 1972, Sony Pictures
Solaris (Russia), 1972, Criterion Collection
Birth (USA,) 2004, New Line