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the manchurian candidate (1962, 2004)


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I gotta admit, it didn't occur to me at all. Perhaps because my mind was quite busy going, "Just show him that he has a chip on his shoulder! Just show him that he has a chip on his shoulder!"

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Ted Baehr:

The liberal politics of the new version will anger many of our conservative friends, but the real crime of this new version is not its goofy politics

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:

: Maybe that's just Seattle.

Given how you've described other screenings there, yes, maybe. smile.gif

There was no applause in Vancouver, for whatever that's worth, and this is a pretty liberal town.

: Yeah. I mean... why in the world would anybody imply that there's anything fishy

: or suspicious going on in big business?

I think Baehr means it is perplexing why movie studios which are, themselves, big businesses would make big businesses look bad. The obvious answer, I would reply, is that movie studios know that there is money to be made in making big businesses look bad.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Crosswalk's review, in the list of "Objectionable Content" for this film, includes "offscreen nudity."

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Ummm... if it's "offscreen," how can it qualify as "content"? How can we prove the actors were naked? And if it's offscreen, and thus unknown to us, how can we be offended?

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Hmmm, maybe they object to nudity so long as one of the CHARACTERS can see it, even if no one in the audience can.

Then again, what scene are they talking about?

If it's the scene in which Denzel takes a shower BY HIMSELF, then even THAT explanation doesn't really explain what's going through Crosswalk's mind.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Folks, it's Sunday, and so far it sounds like only a couple of us have seen the movie.

It's the most significant film of the weekend... and I can't find any review by any of our regulars besides Ron Reed's at CT.

Did anybody here see the film this weekend? Looks like placing it opposite The Village was a big, unfortunate mistake.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I saw the film today, though that might not really help Jeffrey, though I will if he needs it.

I liked it quite a bit, though not as much as the original. Though, judging from this thread I'm probably the biggest fan of the original on the board. Solid performance from Denzel. Meryl Streep, it seems she was almost trying to be too similar to Lansbury's performance, though I remember reading somewhere that she said she was trying to differentiate it. I read in the Tribute magazine that I got at the theatre that Denzel hasn't even seen the original!

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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I liked it quite a bit, though not as much as the original. Though, judging from this thread I'm probably the biggest fan of the original on the board. Solid performance from Denzel. Meryl Streep, it seems she was almost trying to be too similar to Lansbury's performance, though I remember reading somewhere that she said she was trying to differentiate it. I read in the Tribute magazine that I got at the theatre that Denzel hasn't even seen the original!

I haven't seen it yet but I, too, am a huge fan of the original. David Sterritt's otherwise good review in the Christian Science Monitor has similar concerns about Streep's (and Schreiber's) performance:

"Demme's movie would be more engrossing if it weren't far too long (way over two hours) and if Meryl Streep and Liev Schreiber didn't seem so determined to ape Angela Lansbury and Laurence Harvey from the 1962 edition."

In a USA Today interview a couple of weeks ago Streep criticized the original because Lansbury was only three years older than Laurence Harvey, and I wanted yell, "No No No! Meryl, you're arguably the greatest screen actress in the world, you should know better!" Without makeup or visual effects, Lansbury was completely convincing, for me anyway.

"The most important thing is that people love in the same way. Whether they are monarchists, republicans, or communists, they feel pain in the same way, as well as hatred, jealousy, fear, and fear of death. Whether you are a deeply religious man or an atheist, if you have a toothache, it hurts just the same." - Krzysztof Kieslowski

"...it seems to me that most people I encounter aren't all that interested in the arts. Most of the people who are my age ... appear to be interested in golf, fertilizer, and early retirement schemes.... I will stop caring passionately about music, books, and films on the day that I die, and I'm hoping for Top 100 album polls in the afterlife." - Andy Whitman

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I saw this on opening night. First off, I enjoyed the remake as an entertaining way to pass a few hours, but there are a couple of logical and emotional holes in this film that would prevent me from telling folks that it's a must see. I too am a huge fan of the original Manchurian Candidate, which is why it has taken me a few days to write down my reaction to the new version. I had to ask myself, "are the problems that I have with the remake directly linked to my love of the original, or would they have stood out had I not known a thing about the original." Well, I think a majority of the problems I had would have stood out... they are that noticeable.

START spoilers1.gif

My biggest problem with the movie was it's use of exposition over the use of visuals, especially in reference to Raymond's relationship with Jocelyn Jordon. Without that past storyline actually being shown, I never felt the emotional connection that these two characters were supposed to have shared, and the devestation that Raymond felt at this relationship ending. It really is the moment in Raymond's life that has shaped his entire adulthood, but it is only given a few short moments, and all through dialogue. So, when the big scene at the Jordon house occurs, what is supposed to be the stunning moment was not all that effective for me.

I don't know, maybe someone who hasn't seen the original can tell me if this scene carried much weight.

I also had a problem with the Jordon house scene taking place in broad daylight... would Raymond's "handler" actually risk that much exposure? What his "handler" is asking him to do is already risky enough as it is.

The Bruno Ganz character didn't work for me either. I thought it a bit contrived that Marco just happened to have a friend who knew so much about molecular design. And just what happened to him? Are we supposed to think he's part of the conspiracy, or that the conspirators got to him?

Also, Marco handing over the implant to Ganz bothered me. Yes, I might show it to my molecular buddy too, but before I had any electrolysis done to my brain I would make darn sure that my key piece of evidence ... the only thing that can prove my wacky theories are plausible ... would be safely tucked away somewhere. And why hadn't I noticed this little bump on my back since returning from Kuwait 13 years ago?

Was the camera always in Rosie's apartment? I'm assuming it was, since later she says the feds have been shadowing Marco for quite a while, even before their encounter on the train, which turns out was not merely chance. If so, wouldn't it have picked up on the fact that Marco did indeed have an implant (or something) in his back... his back is positioned right towards the heating vent when he removes his implant.

END spoilers1.gif

So, those are some of my problems with the remake... at least the ones I thought I would have noticed, if this were the only version I had seen. There are a lot of things I liked about the movie. I enjoyed the "throw-back" convention... when is the last time Vice Presidential candidate's have had to battle it out at the convention for nomination to the post?

I also loved the blurring of parties... we're never really sure what party these folks are with. I've seen several reviews mention republican bashing, and there seems to be a lot of Republican ideals (or someones idea of them) spoken by Streep's "Hillaryesque" senator, yet she speaks of her party having not been in the White House for several terms. But when she points out how she can swing the electoral votes to their parties side with Raymond's nomination, the map she points to clearly has their candidate Arthur vs. their opposition Nelson, the colors that are used to denote Republicans and Democrats. Are Demme and his writers saying that when it comes down to it, they are just two sides of the same coin?

I also was interested in the turmoil the country is in, as reported by several media folks throughout the film. There are several references to U.S. troops in Indonesia and Sri Lanka... also, the quick tidbit of how Denver has suffered some form of terrorism. A radio clip is being played when Marco wakes up in Central Park that refers to "the mile high city is still reeling from its recent attacks."

I thought Denzel did a tremendous job, as did Schrieber... especially in their scenes together. The "are you my friend, Ben?," sequence was played so well by the both of them... I only wish that it had lasted longer. Both of them at the moment would be front runners for awards. The movie itself, not so much. Overall, since it's hard to seperate the two, I overwhelmingly prefer the original. The remake for me is just a good summer entertainment, but not as important as I think the filmmakers would like us to believe it is.

P.S.

Demme's movie would be more engrossing if it weren't far too long (way over two hours)...

The remake runs 2 hrs. 10min.... only 3 minutes longer than the originals 2hrs. 7min. I haven't read the CSM review, but do they mention that?

Edited by Baal_T'shuvah

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
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Demme's movie would be more engrossing if it weren't far too long (way over two hours)...

The remake runs 2 hrs. 10min.... only 3 minutes longer than the originals 2hrs. 7min. I haven't read the CSM review, but do they mention that?

No, Sterritt doesn't mention that. He does call Denzel "stellar," though, and he says the cinematography is "as edgy and antsy as the story it tells."

Interesting point about Mrs. Shaw's political affiliation. Two separate stories I've read (can't remember where) have said the character is obviously Republican or clearly a Democrat. Republicans say she's a Hillary clone while others claim she's modeled after conservatives like Karen Hughes, Margaret Thatcher and Peggy Noonan. Everyone takes from it what they will, I guess.

"The most important thing is that people love in the same way. Whether they are monarchists, republicans, or communists, they feel pain in the same way, as well as hatred, jealousy, fear, and fear of death. Whether you are a deeply religious man or an atheist, if you have a toothache, it hurts just the same." - Krzysztof Kieslowski

"...it seems to me that most people I encounter aren't all that interested in the arts. Most of the people who are my age ... appear to be interested in golf, fertilizer, and early retirement schemes.... I will stop caring passionately about music, books, and films on the day that I die, and I'm hoping for Top 100 album polls in the afterlife." - Andy Whitman

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Regarding the characters' political affiliations, I find it very interesting that the Schreiber character is considered a good candidate simply because he fought in a war once -- kind of reminds me of how John Kerry keeps touting his war experience back in the '60s.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Meryl Streep, it seems she was almost trying to be too similar to Lansbury's performance, though I remember reading somewhere that she said she was trying to differentiate it.

Boy, we sure perceive that aspect differently! Lansbury seems to me pretty much one-note: she's a dominating, controlling woman with pretty much one strategy to carry that out: she's cold and pushy. In the novel the character is described as highly attractive, clearly sexual, but I didn't see that come through at all with Ange.

Streep, on the other hand, hits plenty of those flirty, sexy notes. But when she turns on the sheer bitchy dominating thing, it's explosive and potent. But she's also brilliantly intelligent: this dame can think, and persuade - on her feet, under great pressure, no less. It's a doozy of a performance.

Someone remarked that there is too much of Streep, and that her performance is so full-blown it verges on satire. I'd say, thank the gods of cinema for every minute of Streep in this one, her work remains by far the most vivid aspect of the film a week after viewing it. And yes, the daring, funny and far-out energy of her inspired performance DOES shift the film into satire, which is exactly where it belongs: the novel was clearly satire, Pauline Kael rightly called the first film version "the most sophisticated political satire ever made in Hollywood," and the remake is always at its best when its dancing well over the border into the country of satire. (By the way, "my" description of Streep's performance there is cribbed directly from Kael's description of the original film: "A daring, funny and far-out thriller about political extremists...plays some crazy games about the Right and the Left..." I think Meryl was spot on! Oh, and by the way, in an interview with Demme on NPR, he said that Streep didn't watch the original until she was finished shooting. Sounds right to me.)

Yours contrarily,

Ron

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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Lansbury seems to me pretty much one-note: she's a dominating, controlling woman with pretty much one strategy to carry that out: she's cold and pushy.  In the novel the character is described as highly attractive, clearly sexual, but I didn't see that come through at all with Ange.

Hmmm, I had the exact opposite reaction to Lansbury's performance. I thought she conveyed the character's knack for public charm, contrasted with her backstage coldness and manipulation. And I did, Lord help me, find her attractive and sexual ... creeps me out a bit to think of Jessica Fletcher as sexy! unsure.gif

Can't wait to see the new version and judge for myself.

"The most important thing is that people love in the same way. Whether they are monarchists, republicans, or communists, they feel pain in the same way, as well as hatred, jealousy, fear, and fear of death. Whether you are a deeply religious man or an atheist, if you have a toothache, it hurts just the same." - Krzysztof Kieslowski

"...it seems to me that most people I encounter aren't all that interested in the arts. Most of the people who are my age ... appear to be interested in golf, fertilizer, and early retirement schemes.... I will stop caring passionately about music, books, and films on the day that I die, and I'm hoping for Top 100 album polls in the afterlife." - Andy Whitman

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Mark wrote:

: ... creeps me out a bit to think of Jessica Fletcher as sexy!

Just imagine how I felt when I discovered that Princess Gwendoline, the blonde with the cleavage that Danny Kaye keeps "making love" to in The Court Jester (1956), was the exact same actress as that older woman in Murder She Wrote! She was also the sexy princess in Samson & Delilah (1949), which we briefly discussed here.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Someone remarked that there is too much of Streep, and that her performance is so full-blown it verges on satire.

That was me. And if everyone else had leaned toward satire in the film, her performance wouldn't have stuck out like a sore thumb to me.

Still, I'm sorry to see the film being outshouted by The Village. My initial hunch about Oscars is very quickly looking unlikely, like the movie just didn't strike the chords it could have.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I haven't seen the movie yet, but I wanted to post these comments, which are part of John Podhoretz's negative review of Candidate in last week's Weekly Standard:

"Unfortunately, there have been a lot of movies like the new version of The Manchurian Candidate. Starring Denzel Washington, it is an amalgam of The X-Files, Oliver Stone's JFK and Nixon, Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, and a forgotten 1974 film called The Parallax View. ...

"The film is like a comic-book illustration of every single liberal-left clich

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Hmmmm. Let's see... I liked it for...

a) it's creative variations on the original

b ) strong performances by a first-rate cast

c) the soundtrack

d) the cinematography

e) the gleefully twisted flourishes with the bad mad scientist and good mad scientist

f) the way an admittedly X-Files-ish treatment of the story became a compelling reminder of the importance of a vigilant democratic populace...

g) the way the new sci-fi elements of the story worked effectively as a metaphor for the way the media can sway the public's perception.

So far, I haven't found any reason to feel guilty for giving this film an A-.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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The Chicago Reader rates The Manchurian Candidate "a masterpiece."

(While we're on the topic, I'm pretty sure that the title of Condon's novel is the gold standard upon which Robert Ludlum's entire career as a thriller writer has been based. The trick's simple enough: all you need is "The" followed by an allusive but meaningless combination of two words comprising six to eight syllables -- "The Camembert Invective," "The Oglethorpe Continuum," "The Overcoat Dependency.")

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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--OK, I'm sure the political angle is grist for the mill, but the reason I post that particular excerpt is because is shows another conservative voice (besides my own) who thinks Oliver Stone's JFK was spectacular. I've been waiting 12 years to read an endorsement of that film by a conservative.

Count me as another JFK lover. This is one film that crawls up further and further on my all time favorites list every time I watch it. It's brilliance is one of the reasons that I've found recent political thrillers, such as F9/11 and The Manchurain Candidate, to be decent but less than stellar. It's because Stone did it all so much better over a decade ago. From the controversy it caused, to the artfulness of its creation, Stone's film is miles ahead of the current crop.

Sidenote: I recently watched The Contender a few weeks ago, and despite disagreeing with some of its politics, I found it to be a well acted and completely engrossing political thriller. Just thought I'd mention it.

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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  • 2 weeks later...

Two things.

spoilers1.gif

(1) Could someone please explain to me how Denzel can still be a pawn of the powers that be, after he went through that electro-shock treatment to erase his RAM?

(2) Jeff, I was watching Meryl Streep's hands very closely during the near-kiss scene, and she has them on Liev Schreiber's face when she comes in for the kiss -- what on earth did y'all in Seattle see in that scene that I and both of the audiences with whom I saw this film missed?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Oh, a couple other things.

First, in the scene at the restaurant where Streep hands Schreiber some classified files, I think we see the year "2008" on one of the documents, which would seem to set this film four years in the future; given that Schreiber refers to the two terms he has served in Congress since coming home from the Gulf War in 1991, I am wondering how long a term would be (and has he already finished the second one, or is he in the middle of it?), and thus whether it would be even possible for this film to take place in 2004. (Alas, I neglected to look for dates on the newspaper clippings announcing that Schreiber had been elected to Congress.) Interestingly, if this film DOES take place in 2008, then one wonders what to make of Streep's claim that an election loss for their party would result in "four more years" of the other party, presumably the Republicans; perhaps Bush has changed the constitution so he can be elected a third time, or perhaps Cheney has decided to go for the presidency.

And second, yes, I think we can say with all confidence that the Streep-Schreiber-Voight party is the Democratic Party -- the party might never be named, but their rhetoric, their popularity in certain regions, their coziness with Al Franken, etc. all point to that.

In other news . . .

- - -

Diamonds Aren't Forever: What to Make of the Manchurian Candidate

Jonathan Demme's remake of The Manchurian Candidate, released as a war hero was nominated for president, eliminates the Sen. Johnny Iselin character, assimilating his worst traits into the mother, whom the remake presents as a ruthless widow, mother and United States senator. A contrast of the two pictures reveals further differentiation.

BoxOfficeMojo.com, August 7

The Manchurian Mistake

Unfortunately, a number of religious leaders -- who should know better -- have bought into the warped and delusional view of the business world presented by this summer's "The Manchurian Candidate." Some of these religious leaders argue that the multinational company, unregulated and driven only by insatiable thirst for profit, is the source of all evil. . . . This is bad political theory, bad economics, and bad theology.

Rev. Gerald Zandstra, Acton Institute, August 18

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Jeff, I was watching Meryl Streep's hands very closely during the near-kiss scene, and she has them on Liev Schreiber's face when she comes in for the kiss -- what on earth did y'all in Seattle see in that scene that I and both of the audiences with whom I saw this film missed?

spoilers1.gif

It has nothing to do with her hands. If I remember right, he's only wearing a towel. She's standing very close to him, if not right up against him, and it certainly appeared to me that after she kissed him, she became slowly aware that he was having a reaction to that kiss... that his erection was making itself known offscreen. Since she's standing practically against him at that point, how could she NOT notice such a thing. At least, that was the implication that seemed clear to me in that moment...

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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