Movie of the Week: The Ides of March

There was a lot riding on the movie of the week this week.  First it represented a critical tiebreaker in the 2011 Ryan Gosling competition.  I loved Crazy Stupid Love and he was funny and charming in it, despite the presence of his nasaly, quasi-Brooklyn, Marlon-Brando-in-The-Godfather-despite-being-only-30-years-old-voice.  Then came Drive, the critically-acclaimed, artistic piece of sh*t.  It had a great opening sequence and then was as if someone took the movie Faster starring The Rock, reduced the muscles, kept the minimal dialogue and plot and added a European director with a love of himself.  So The Ides of March would be the final vote in a split decision loss or victory for Ryan Gosling’s 2011.

No less important was the movie for George Clooney.  For me George Clooney, as I have said many times before, is the high school quarterback that does math club and a capella.  Girls love him, guys can’t hate him because he is good at football, but the losers really love him because he is the rare cool kid who uses some of his cool capital to do activities with them, rather than bully them.  Hollywood is largely the math club and a capella group.  They love that Clooney has not squandered his Ocean’s 11 mass appeal on starring in only big blockbusters, but he has passion projects and intellectual works and other giant bags of over-indulgent boring films.  Loved Clooney in Out of Sight, loved him in Oceans 11 and really enjoyed, more recently, Up In The Air.  These were football films for Clooney.  Sleek, cool and fun to watch (and Up In The Air had a dose of math club in it too).  But in between those movies were a heavy load of self-important crap.

Good Night and Good Luck – overrated and boring, but the fact that the cool kid was doing them required the geeks to support it, or risk losing Clooney to football entirely.

Syriana – not bad, never should have won an Oscar (he grew a beard – what is this a comedy festival or the Oscars) and the film was adequate.

And then there was Michael Clayton, his biggest critical success, which was the most average of corporate thrillers (it cannot hold the jock of Michael Mann’s The Insider, for example, but garnered the equivalent nominations and praise 11 years apart).

And this is without mentioning one of the worst film’s of 2010 The American which was all Clooney all the time and terrible, but somehow escaped with mediocre reviews instead of Bucky Larson reviews.

Together Clooney and Gosling seemed very poised to enter the “J-L Debonair Overrated Hall of Fame” joining current inductees Colin Firth and the television show Mad Men.

So Gosling Brando and Clooney Christ had a lot to deliver with The Ides of March.  And in my opinion, they did.

This movie is a brisk and tight 100 minute experience (its sharpness is probably due to the fact that it is based on a play, Farragut North).  Unlike Moneyball, for example, I could not complain of any fat needing to be trimmed.  The cast is strong, with the four main characters played by Gosling, Clooney, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti.  Jeffrey Wright, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood handle the remainder and between those seven actors you have some serious chops carrying the film.

It follows an Obama-esque candidate (Clooney – all white, not half-white) on the campaign trail, specifically their fight to win the critical Ohio delegates for the Democratic nomination.  Gosling is the whiz kid, who probably has an Ivy League pedigree, based on his position and yet still sounds like a mush-mouthed Brooklynite.  Don Corleone-ing aside, Gosling is quite strong as the character that undergoes the most development throughout the film, from idealistic whiz kid to hardened, cynical political operative.  The whole cast is great  and I could not ask for much more from a movie.  It is lean, well cast, well acted with a story and themes that are very current.

Final Grade – A


Wolverine and A-Rod Must Pull a “McGreevey” To Save…

In case gay men were still fuming (flaming?) over Proposition 8 in California they were just dealt two more blows (can the unintentional gay puns ever stop?) in the form of Wolverine and Alex Rodriguez’s latest scandals.

Although I have already blasted it on Facebook – if you can help it do not go see Wolverine.  I am more guilty than most with going to see blockbusters.  After Batman Forever I swore that I would not see another Batman (the new franchise does not count), but there I was a couple of years later watching Batman and Robin, one of the 10 worst films I have ever seen.

Well last night, since I did not have to be up until 4 pm today for work, I went to see a midnight show of Wolverine.  This is a really really bad movie.  So many cliche moments (did he really just scream up at the sky at the death of someone?, is he really walking with CGI fire behind him? – what a badass!), such bad acting and writing have not been crammed into one film since Sophia Coppola starred in a re-make of Castaway (not true, but wanted to show how easy it is to write Family Guy-style jokes).  Now Hugh Jackman shows up jacked as ever (I question the legality of his training methods at this point), but this steroided up Rupert Everett is not enough to carry the movie beyond a rating or “piece of crap,” which is the only rating before “a Paul Blart.”

And faster than you can say gay man on steroids, here comes repressed Alex Rodriguez back into the news, with more revelations about his “doth protest too much” womanizing and his playing the Matt Damon to Derek Jeter’s Jude law in his baseball version of The Talented Mr. Ripley (does that make Joba Chamberlain the Phillip Seymour Hoffman of the Yankees?).  I have defended A-Rod, not because I think his womanizing or cheating or annoyingly overdone PR image are good, but because I am starting to think this guy is really repressing something.  I mean the guy is a pretty, tan, well-groomed Latin guy from South Beach with a taste for muscular pop singers – I am not sure if Perez Hilton is that gay?  Throw in his alleged obsession with Derek Jeter and his alleged cheesy pick up lines and you might as well not as look at his iPod because I am sure Freedom by George Michael is playing on repeat.

So I have the same advice for both Hugh Jackman and Alex Rodriguez to stem the criticism for atrocious behavior (making a bad movie, cheating on everything, respectively).  Pull a McGreevey.  This move, named after former New jersey governor and truck stop enthusiast Jim McGreevey, is when you make a shocking announcement about your sexuality to distract from terrible professional activities.

So my solution for them is that they both should come out and announce that they are gay Americans in the next week.  Sure, Hugh Jackman is not American, he’s Australian, but no one will be listening after he says gay.  And A-Rod could spice it up (Latin pun) and say he is a gay Latino-American thus adding an extra layer of minority protection to his announcement.  I think this is the only thing that can save their respective credibility.  My guess is that the entire cast of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek will have to announce that they are a gay star fleet next week.