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Primary concerns

2008 releases offer campaign reform
By PETER KEOUGH  |  December 28, 2007

VIDEO: The trailer for Be Kind, Rewind

With the nomination process of both parties heating up over the next three months, the last thing people are looking for when they go to the movies is a reminder of the political crapola they are trying to escape. Nonetheless, the movies provide catharsis and relief for the annoyance, tedium, demoralization, and outrage the ongoing barrage of campaigning has engendered. And as such they hold up a mirror to that same state of mind. So maybe upcoming releases during this period can offer a guide to what’s happening in politics, which could well be more like make–believe than what’s on the screen.

The Iowa caucuses will have already settled the hash of some candidates, and New Hampshire will follow up on January 8, so folks numb from phone canvassers might be amused by Eric Vallette’s ONE MISSED CALL (January 4), in which people are getting phone messages that are recordings of their final moments. Shannyn Sossamon and Ed Burns star.

More to the point is Paul Thomas Anderson’s THERE WILL BE BLOOD (January 4), an adaptation of Sinclair Lewis’s Oil! about an oil baron in early 20th century Southern California. Daniel Day Lewis and Paul Dano star in a timely reminder of the ruthless greed and hypocritical piety that have helped make this country what it is today.

Demanding though it is, our democratic process sure beats some others. Like that in the land of the Ayatollahs. PERSEPOLIS (January 11), Marjane Satrapi’s animated adaptation of her book about growing up in post-revolution Iran, is a bittersweet black-and-white memoir sweetened by the voices of Catherine Deneuve and Chiara Mastroianni.

Which brings up one of the downsides of living in the land of the free. What to wear? In Iran one size burkha fits all. The protagonist (Katharine Heigl) in Ann Fletcher’s 27 DRESSES (January 11) has been a bridesmaid 27 times. Now she has to buy gown number 28 — for her sister’s marriage to the man she loves.

Back to the campaign trail, by this point the dirt that candidates have been digging up about each other will start hitting the fan. Kind of like the dirty secrets uncovered in Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona’s THE ORPHANAGE/EL ORFANATA (January 11), in which a former tenant in the title institution returns to find some troubled spirits.

When it comes to a skeletons in the closet, Rudy Giuliani might not fare very well. So around this time he might be pounding the 9/11 drum harder than ever. Fortunately, Matt Reeves’s CLOVERFIELD (January 18) should be a potent reminder with its imagery of a huge monster’s destruction of NYC.

For other candidates, it’s the economy, stupid, as in Callie Khouri’s MAD MONEY (January 18). Here three disgruntled employees (played by Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, and Katie Holmes) plot to rob their workplace — a Federal Reserve bank.

As we approach the feral nightmare of the South Carolina primary on January 26, it might help to take in the rival weirdness of Michel Gondry’s BE KIND REWIND (January 25), in which a couple of pals try to remake the top films of all time. Leave it to Jack Black, Mos Def (as his video-store owner friend), Melonie Diaz, Danny Glover, and Mia Farrow to sort this one out.

Then it’s right back to reality with Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman’s NANKING (January 25), a documentary showing what happens when an occupation really goes wrong, as with the Japanese Army in WWII in the title Chinese city. But if you prefer your warfare of the wish-fulfilling fantasy kind, there’s the return of Sylvester Stallone and his brand-new RAMBO (January 25).

Speaking of bloodshed, as Super Tuesday nears, the campaigns will be at their nastiest. Hillary Clinton will certainly be showing her TEETH (January 25), as will the teenager in Mitchell Lichtenstein’s bizarre black comedy: she’s developed a bad case of vagina dentata.

VIDEO: The trailer for Jumper

On Tuesday, February 4, 23 states will hold primaries and pretty much determine the nominees in both parties. So how will the candidates fare, movie-wise?

Hillary Clinton is very much in the picture, if I read the signs correctly. In Jonathan Levine’s ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE (February 1) the popular girl of the title (Amber Heard) is invited to a party and the other guests (Obama? Edwards?) mysteriously vanish.

In David Moreau and Xavier Palud’s THE EYE (February 1), a woman receives an eye transplant that allows her to see into the supernatural world. No doubt a political asset, but also a reason to be burned at the stake. Jessica Alba and Parker Posey are among those under scrutiny .

Jeff Lowell’s OVER HER DEAD BODY (February 1) might say something about the candidates’ tenacity — or domestic situation: a dead woman’s ghost tries to break up her ex’s relationship with a psychic. Eva Longoria Parker, Paul Rudd, and Lake Bell star.

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  Topics: Features , Hillary Clinton , Celebrity News , Entertainment ,  More more >
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