ryan gosling

Ides of March (2011) Review | Jamie Daily

Ides of March (2011)
84th Academy Awards 2012
4/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay (Beau WillimonGeorge ClooneyGrant Heslov).
Watched April 20, 2013.

 

“But is it better to win and deliver on half your pledges or retain your purity and achieve nothing?” (The Guardian)

 

I was working in a movie theatre when Ides of March came out and I had a vague interest in seeing it.  It probably had something to do with Ryan Gosling being in the film, but it was 2011, a year before elections, and I was sick of politics already.  It is probably best that I avoided it, but now that I have some political clarity, I actually quite enjoyed the film and for what people my age tend to call “an old person film,” I really appreciated the 102 minute runtime.

 

Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney) is gunning for the presidency and is deep in the trenches of political warfare–the democratic primary campaign.  He claims no religion and always smoothly moves the questions in the direction of the constitution.  His campaign manager is Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a man who has equally made his life about politics as well as loyalty among the ranks.  The Ides of March has its main eye on another character–the right hand man to Zara is the young, dashing idealist Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) who still retains his innocence toward politicians and the campaigning process.  He claims the only reason he works for Morris is because he believes that he is the only solution to the country’s problems.  It is as if he has Morris on a pedestal and the man can do no wrong.

 

Things take a turn pretty quickly.  The competition’s campaign manager, a Mr. Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti), sees something brilliant in Stephen and asks him to meet him at a bar.  It is here that he offers the young visionary a job and claims that he has caused another politician to jump ship with a promise of Secretary of State.  Stephen is confused and reeling, not sure whether or not he should tell Zara about his meeting and not sure why Duffy would come to him with these stories.

 

Stephen learns pretty quickly about the value of loyalty, but he also learns that no one is perfect.  If you want to survive in this career path, you have to make the tough decisions and sometimes you might even have to compromise your beliefs for a man you once thought a saint.  His innocence is shattered and he has to choose whether or not to let others trample all over him or to use the many weapons in his arsenal to get what he wants.

 

Ides of March is a slow, dialogue driven, political thriller directed by George Clooney that uses its short run-time very effectively.  Gosling’s character reminded me a lot of his character in Drive, although this time he is much more talkative.  All of the actors did a good job–they were all believable in their roles and the people who you might love in the beginning prove to fool the audience just like they are fooling the American public.  Politics can be a dirty game, and this film only shows a part of that.

 

There is very little bias toward democrats or republicans, although there are shorts snippets of Morris discussing his liberal ideals.  It isn’t a film to convince you to become democrat, but more of an insight into a world that we all know is full of liars and manipulation.  They all want to get to the top, even the interns.

 

If this sounds like your kind of movie, I would definitely recommend it.  It’s not something I would watch all the time, but it is well made and the scripting, of course, is very well done.

 

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Drive (2011) Review | Jamie Daily

Drive (2011)
84th Academy Awards 2012
4/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Sound Editing (Lon Bender, Victor Ray Ennis).
Watched March 9, 2013.

 

I hated Drive the first time I saw it.  There are still aspects about it that I really dislike, but one thing that you have to realize from the very beginning is that although what is happening on screen can become very chaotic, the edit is very slow, which can create distance between the audience and the film.  At the same time, as my second time viewing this picture, I had a lot more affection for Ryan Gosling’s character.  He is quiet and shy but he knows how to take care of himself and others.  He has a stare that could kill you, or melt your heart, and he decides when to use either.  He also uses his silence to his advantage–it provokes others to talk and to divulge things they otherwise might not.

 

Gosling’s character does not have a name.  He is the Driver, who by day drives stunts for the movies and might be making a break into the racing world, but by night he drives for criminals.  The beginning of the film introduces you to his amazing skills, both day and night, and most notably presents the film’s amazing eighties soundtrack that sometimes overpowers what is happening on screen and communicates an other-worldly frame of thought.  When the Driver meets the woman down the hall and is semi-forced into knowing her (because who can ignore a woman and her son when their car breaks down in the parking lot of your grocery store), the music takes on such an intensity that you are sure Driver and Irene (Carey Mulligan) are going to fall in love.

 

It is an interesting character study/love story from the beginning, but about 45 minutes in, things get real crazy.

 

The storyline reminds be of Bullhead.  It seems like it should be soley a character study, but so many other things get thrown in that the intent gets a little muddled.  Drive does this more successfully than Bullhead, because Driver’s character arch is more consistent with everything that happens, but the last hour or so seems almost like a completely different movie from the beginning.  Why he makes the choices he does makes complete sense, because of the affection he feels for Irene and her son Benicio (Kaden Leos), but at the same time, things get a little out of hand and it makes you wonder what kind of guy Driver really is.

 

Again, the film is slow, and definitely almost overly-graphic.  It isn’t graphic in a Quentin Tarantino kind of way, but graphic in an “if we were actually in this situation this is exactly what it would look like” kind of way.  Despite these aspects, the film is so technically well done that it is a filmmaker’s dream to watch and analyze, whether or not they see it more than once in their lifetime.

 

If you have love for Gosling or Mulligan, or affection for Tarantino (although Nicolas Winding Refn directed Drive), or even a love for studying film as a whole, this might be a good one for you to watch.  However, if none of these things appeal to you, I would suggest that you stay away from this watch.