In light of the last few week’s political chaos, The Urchins bring you our favourite political films. What are yours?
Co-written, produced, and directed by acclaimed actor and liberal Warren Beatty, under the advisement of political writing god Aaron Sorkin, referenced by President Obama, and featuring early-career performances by Halle Berry and Don Cheadle, Bulworth is the political movie that has it all.
Though much of this film probably went over my head the first time I saw it at age 13, even then I could tell how smart and progressive its plot and dialogue were. To this day, my mum and I still revel in the prophetic accuracy of the quote, “Everybody just gotta keep fuckin’ everybody ’til they’re all the same color.” Exploring themes of universal health care and cultural appropriation, Bulworth put itself way ahead of its time, and 2013 way behind.
I watched The Battle of Algiers for the first time back in 2006, and the 1965 film was still relevant. I rewatched it just last year, and the film was still relevant. If that isn’t what marks a great political movie, I’m not sure what does.
The Battle of Algiers is a tense, knuckle-tight narrative following a small Algerian liberation group as they carry out tactics to combat, elude, and defend themselves against French occupiers. Illegal, even violent acts in the name of national liberation and civil rights.
Director Gillo Pontecorvo’s street-style filmmaking takes neo-realism to another extreme; the events happen so suddenly, exploding right before your face, that sometimes you forget that you aren’t watching a documentary. As motivations unfold, so do their justifications. Suddenly you are more than a viewer, and you begin to ask yourself, ‘Would I have done the same thing under the circumstances?’
As with most movies that didn’t feature animated characters, I didn’t get Barry Levinson’s Wag the Dog when it came out in 1997. However, upon revisiting the film starring Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, and Anne Heche, I discovered an amazing comedy that plays off our greatest suspicions and fears: the government lying to us! Set during a reelection year, De Niro (who plays a spin doctor) hires a legendary Hollywood producer (Hoffman) to create a fictitious war in order to hide the President’s sex scandal. Adapted by David Mamet and Hilary Henkin from Larry Beinhart’s novel, Wag the Dog is smart, and incredibly funny.