Today I finally caught up with The Ides of March, the movie starring George Clooney and featuring Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Terrific picture, and all my D.C. political types tell me it couldn't be closer to the truth. Good entertainment and yet, you leave the theater with a better feeling for having seen it and received a good dose of reality as the political campaign heats up for us.
The Sunday Times had a front-page review by Frank Rich of a biography and collected writings of Pauline Kael. Many will remember her as the very outspoken movie critic of The New Yorker back in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. She had lots of faults--too cozy relationships with some movie industry types for one--but she also had an enthusiasm that is lacking in too many critics today. It turned out that her famous piece, "Raising Kane," about how Herman J. Manckiewicz deserved at least equal credit with Orson Welles for the writing of Citizen Kane, was actually filled with errors, some unintended but others either careless or worse. Yet it did focus our attention on Joe Manckiewicz's oft-forgotten brother. Movie critics now are sort of blah--they have little sense of the history of the medium and perhaps reflect what Kael just missed having to deal with: that movies too are largely aimed at teenagers. Kael really loved movies and in the end, that and a decent critical sense made her memorable.
The Ides of March was fun largely because it was a picture for grown-ups. We need many more like that.