Wednesday, July 26, 2006

"The Cancer of Virtuous Decay"

A Movie Review

Rod Lurie's 2000 film The Contender served as The American President to the writer/directors own short lived, West Wing style drama Commander & Chief. Chief however was one of those ill-fated television programs whose back story and behind the scenes goings-on where more interesting then the actual show. The Contender has more of a plot then The American President but is a less likeable movie. Perhaps more realistic then Sorkins Capra-like Romance, The Contender offers a hard-edged political procedural in the tradition of Premingers Advise and Consent 40 years earlier, only here I found no characters that I really liked.

The plot of the film concerns two-term Democratic President Jackson Evans (Jeff Bridges) who must fill the vacancy left by the death of the Vice-President (whose name, as a bit of trivia was Troy Ellert), said to have occurred three-weeks prior to the start of events on screen. While the popular sentiment is to appoint the politically well situated but ultimately substancless Governor of Virginia Jack Hathaway (William L. Peterson), the President chooses instead to nominate Senator Laine Hanson (Joan Allen) of Ohio, a far leftist who strangely enough is said to have once been a Republican. Illinois Congressman Sheldon Runyan (Gary Oldman) however wants to use his chairmanship of a committee set to review the nominee, to get payback at the sitting president for some political slight, vaguely refereed to as having occurred in Hartford, that is said to have cost him the presidency. Sam Elliott plays the Presidents chief-of-staff Kermit Newman, and Christian Slater is a promising young Democratic Congressman from Delaware. This is largely a good movie but full of a liberal posturing more arrogant then typically found on The West Wing, and an awkward sort of PC moralism with which I was not ultimately comfortable. I would have had a hard voting for Laine Hanson, but think I would ultimately have to confirm her.


At 12:40 PM, Blogger Nate Dredge said...

My main problem with the politics of the film was that it seemed to say that any critical judgment of Senator Hansen could only come from the fact that she is a women, and the 'judger' is a male. This is just as much of a double standard as the one the film wants to combate.


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