May 24, 2013
Written by Mark Schumann, Father of Three
Friday, 26 September 2008 09:37
With the first presidential debate scheduled for Friday evening, politics are in the news. As parents, we want to discuss many topics with our children. Watching a movie together can provide an opportunity for quality exchange. This election season, movies can help you begin to discuss some important issues with your children. Here are a few favorites our father film critic recommends to watch and discuss with your kids. Enjoy your time together!
Movies can entertain as well as challenge. Just like presidential politics. When Hollywood gets political, the results can be entertaining and thought-provoking. Many films over the years have raised some important issues while still providing cinema escape. Here are a few of the best to add to your cinema menu.
All the President’s Men. The best political film ever made is also one of the most exciting cinema thrillers. In a semi-documentary approach, director Alan J. Pakula examines how The Washington Post withstands internal and external hurdles to tell the true story of the Watergate break-in. For some reason, this classic lost the Best Picture Oscar of 1977 to Rocky. I demanded a recount.
The American President. This immensely watchable film, written by Aaron Sorkin of The West Wing, never seems to tire, no matter how many viewings. Annette Benning is delightful as a lobbyist who falls in love with a widowed president, essayed by Michael Douglas. A lovely film, with a meaningful message, even though I’d vote for Martin Sheen any day.
The Best Man. Back when political parties used their conventions as more than infomercials, real politics occurred in hand to hand combat for votes on the convention floor. This thrilling film from 1964, based on the play by Gore Vidal, presents Henry Fonda as a candidate who places principles above politics. Only in the movies?
The Candidate. This Oscar-winning zinger asks the question, “how different are the tactics to package a political candidate than to sell a product?” The answers in this highly insightful film are as meaningful today as when it was first released more than 35 years ago. Featuring a standout performance by Robert Redford.
The Contender. Joan Allen and Jeff Bridges won well deserved Oscar nominations for this thought-provoking drama about a vice presidential nominee who refuses to address personal attacks from the opposing party. One of the most meaningful political movies of recent years.
Dave. The gentle side of politics creates marvelous entertainment in this whimsical comedy, with a strong heart and soul, about a presidential look-a-like who wants to do more than simply stand in. Kevin Kline is pitch perfect in the dual role with Sigourney Weaver at her most accessible.
The Manchurian Candidate. The original, from 1962, is a brilliant observation of the impact of political paranoia. While the remake of a few years ago offers a more topical story, and a brilliant performance from Meryl Streep, it’s the original that will always be remembered. And it reminds us what a fine actor Frank Sinatra could be.
Primary Colors. The film never quite lives up to its potential, but some sequences are very entertaining. This “tale” of a Southern President who likes fast food and big stories provides John Travolta the chance to deliver a funny, layered performance, while Kathy Bates and Billy Bob Thornton shine as campaign operatives.
Wag the Dog. Dustin Hoffman is brilliantly manic as a Hollywood producer who wonders just how gullible the electorate can be when he invents a war to divert the attention of voters from the real issues. You will laugh out loud and then realize it could happen today.
1776. Politics didn’t just become entertaining in the last century. This magical musical from 1972 proves that backroom shenanigans from the start of our country can be a lot of fun, too. A must for any musical or political fan.
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