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Scandal, power inspiring to filmmakers

LESLIE BREFELD
Summit Daily News
Summit County, CO
Special to the Daily
ALL |

In this heated political atmosphere, movies can offer insight into our own history or an escape into the fantasy world of fiction. Following are highlights of some political fare, which, for those of you who can’t break away from the campaign coverage, might serve as a nice break.

‘All the President’s Men’ 1976

Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman play out the real-life drama of Washington journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in their investigation of a break-in at the Democratic National Party headquarters in 1972. Their stories were integral in exposing the Watergate scandal and forcing the resignation of President Richard Nixon, and the chase to get them is just as riveting. Although it may have been more fun to watch before Deep Throat’s identity was revealed, the journalists’ and editors’ dedication to the story comes at a timely era in news media.

‘Blaze’ 1989

Flamboyant Louisiana governor Earl Young, played by Paul Newman, stars in this hilarious story involving the 1950s politician’s love affair with stripper Blaze Starr.

‘Primary Colors’ 1998

Joe Klein wrote this veiled story of President Clinton’s rise in politics portrayed through John Travolta’s Gov. Jack Stanton. Womanizing and the dirty side of politics … need we say more.

‘Nixon’ 1995

Oliver Stone directed this biographical story of the 37th president, which removes some of the mystery behind the only U.S. president ever to resign his post. His life is unfolded through a look at his difficult childhood as well as his political career prior to and during his presidency. Anthony Hopkins stars in the film, which breaks three hours in length.

‘Swing Vote’ 2008

Kevin Costner plays Bud Johnson, an everyday man, who through a chain of events involving his 12-year-old daughter, ends up with the deciding vote in the presidential election.

‘The Candidate’ 1972

Robert Redford stars in this character study of an anti-Washington politician whose integrity is questioned when his run for the Senate sees some unexpected support.

‘Dave’ 1993

Kevin Kline takes over the presidency with ease and grace, somehow decidedly better than his elected look-alike, in “Dave,” which also stars Sigourney Weaver.

‘Wag the Dog’ 1997

A global conflict is fabricated to preemptively distract the American people from a presidential sex scandal. Stars Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro and Anne Heche.

‘Air Force One’ 1997

Harrison Ford is the president and Glenn Close is the VP in this action-packed hijacking. It offers a shallow feeling of patriotism.

‘The American President’ 1995

Michael Douglas, a father and the sitting popular president in the film, learns to date lobbyist Annette Bening during his time in office.

‘Independence Day’ 1996

Everyday man Will Smith pairs with the president and his intelligence in stopping a common enemy to the world: a destructive alien force. And the White House blows up.

Sources: imdb.com and movies.yahoo.com

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10. President Lindberg (Tony “Tiny” Lister), from “The Fifth Element”

I’m not saying that being cross-eyed or incessantly receiving calls from your mother is cool, though both could very well be thought so in the year 2263. That’s so far in the future that Lindberg isn’t just the President of the United States, he’s head of the “United Federation” (like in Star Trek). No, I’m saying that Lindberg is cool because he’s really big and badass and could probably do some sweet damage to some Mangalores all by his lonesome. Unfortunately, Lister never gets to display his old wrestling moves in any action scenes.

9. President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho (Terry Crews), from “Idiocracy”

Another African-American wrestler-turned-president, also in a future setting. Only this time it’s the character who is a former pro wrestler (Crews is instead a former pro football player) and the setting is even further in time, 2505, when the people of the world are very, very stupid. But is it stupid to elect a man with an awesome chopper and a tendency to sing his speeches? If Teddy Roosevelt were alive, he’d probably also have a motorcycle and a machine gun, though maybe he wouldn’t shoot the latter while standing before Congress. Or maybe he would, and maybe we’d still re-elect him.

8. President Devlin (George Clooney), from ‘Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over’

If George Clooney stopped simply talking politics and actually ran for president, a lot of people would vote for him simply because he’s a cool celebrity. Fans of the Spy Kids films got a taste of what President George Clooney would look like when his character, Devlin, became commander-in-chief by the third installment.

7. President James Dale (Jack Nicholson), from ‘Mars Attacks!’

Of course, if there’s one actor even cooler than Clooney, it’s Jack Nicholson. What if the presidential race consisted of these two actors up for the position? If you truly voted based on the coolness of the candidate, you’d have to go with Jack. But only if he wore sunglasses during every public appearance, including especially the State of the Union Address.

6. President Joseph Staton (Dennis Quaid), from ‘American Dreamz’

In a crazy instance of life imitating art, George W. Bush appeared on American Idol in 2007, just one year after President Joseph Staton appeared on American Dreamz (the fictionalized version of the popular show).

5. President George W. Bush (James Adomian), from Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay

This list is basically limited to fictional presidents in film, but we can make an exception for Adomian’s portrayal of Bush, as it’s no more accurate a representation than is Neil Patrick Harris’ portrayal of himself in the same film. In this movie, Bush is a much cooler guy. He gets high, has an awesome rec room, and he’s like a rebellious yet spoiled teenager. Heck, if ‘Rold and Kumar like hanging with him, you’d probably like hanging with him, too.

4. President James Marshall (Harrison Ford), from ‘Air Force One’

People used to prefer a leader who’d proven himself in battle. Now, it’s not so important for a presidential candidate to have served in war or even been shown to have some sort of fight in him. But let’s face it, he beat up a bad guy while avoiding falling out of an airplane cargo door.

3. President Thomas ‘Tug; Benson (Lloyd Bridges), from ‘Hot Shots! Part Deux’

President Benson has been through enough to make McCain look like a lazy hippie. He caught a bazooka round in Okinawa, took a bullet in Corregidor that went straight through both ears, took a torpedo in the lower abdomen that resulted in the removal of his intestines, he has a shell the size of his fist in his head and he was shot down on more than 194 air missions. He’s not too bright these days, but he’ll still take it upon himself to go into Iraq and fight the enemy face to face. With a light saber.

2. President Mays Gilliam (Chris Rock), from ‘Head of State’

He’s not as cool as his running-mate (who is also his brother, played by Bernie Mac), and the movie isn’t as funny or insightful as Chris Rock’s political stand-up, but Mays Gilliam is like an even hipper exaggeration of Obama. Not only does he listen to rap, he plays Nelly at formal events and gets old ladies to dance and sing along. He takes mudslinging to a new level with “Yo Mama” jokes. And his “That Ain’t Right” slogan is like a cooler, possibly more genuine, inverse of Obama’s “Yes We Can.”

1. President Max Frost (Christopher Jones), from ‘Wild in the Streets’

As the hit song from the movie goes, “nothing can stop the shape of things to come,” and I take that to mean that inevitably a rock star will one day be elected to the presidency. After all, there has already been a movie star president, and eight years ago plenty of young music fans were ready to vote Jello Biafra into the White House, simply because he’s Jello Biafra. Despite the uncool things done by Max Frost and his band, The Troopers, such as putting LSD in the capital’s water supply and detaining citizens over the age of 35 for re-education, they do carry out some really hip ideas, such as lowering the voting age to 14, and giving the world some classic garage rock tunes.

Spout.com is an online destination for film lovers and film discussion. Featuring up-to-date news, trailers, reviews, podcasts, festival info, and forums where users can discuss and debate the best in film, the worst in film, and everything in-between; the mission of Spout.com is to connect everyone with more films they are likely to love.


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