Game Change (2012) – A review

Game Change – Poster

For tonight, I had to choose between 2 movies, Game Change and Hitchcock. I was very much leaning towards choosing Hitchcock but finally went for Game Change. The film is about the 2008 McCain-Palin campaign of the Republican Party. I have recently been attracted to United States politics and films and TV series related to it. I have certainly loved watching political dramas way more than other contemporary genres. I can very clearly remember when I recently watched movies like The Ides Of March, Frost/Nixon last year and Spielberg’s Lincoln this year. Though, I know, Lincoln was not exactly a political drama, it was a biopic, but it was so American, if you know what I mean.

Anyways, coming back to Game Change, I had not followed the 2008 campaign when it happened, as I was in college back then and we were just informed casually by our local media that Obama won because he is cool and McCain lost because he wasn’t that cool. So, that was it for me and others back then. But now, since I have grown up and understand things, I was eager to know what exactly went down in McCain-Palin campaign in 2008. So, I start the movie and its action packed right from the first minute. The drama is properly maintained and the story runs in steady pace. The tension, the pressure, and the gravity of the matter are depicted with utter brilliance.

A few years ago, I had seen a Canadian mini-series called Trojan Horse which dealt with US Presidential elections and thus I had an idea of how the picture is when the actual campaigning is going on and then later on I learnt about presidential debates, and other events that occur prior to the elections. I liked the whole process. Also, last year, a series called Newsroom written by Aaron Sorkin educated me a lot about the Republican Party. So, today when I watched Game Change, I could understand every single detail, all terminologies, and the actual scale of risks that are taken by those people. Thus, in my opinion, the film was perfectly balanced and wasn’t made with any intentions to defame Sarah Palin or prove her wrong or anything. Nor did it want to portray John McCain in any wrong manner. It was simply a film about a Republican campaign and politics in general. The talk that campaign managers have at the bar prior to the Election Day in the film says the heart of the message. One of them says, ‘People do want to elect someone like Abraham Lincoln or Thomas Jefferson, but unfortunately its not how it works anymore. Obama and Palin are stars and that’s why they click.’ The quote isn’t perfect but it more or less said the same thing. And that’s what the film said. So, I don’t understand why would John McCain and Sarah Palin in their real lives would say that events described in the film are false and inaccurate, when their own campaign chief Steve Schmidt and Nicolle Wallace, chief of Palin’s staff admitted that the movie was highly credible and it captured the spirit and emotion of the campaign.

Whatever their reason might be, personally speaking I found the movie authentic and legitimate and I loved watching it as a political drama. The performances delivered by Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin, Woody Harrelson as Steve Schmidt & Ed Harris as John McCain, were perfect and brilliant. Moore did deserve all the nominations and awards that she received for her performance. I think even Harrelson should have been duly appreciated for his commendable job.

Some of the facts that I came to know in the movie were quite astonishing and to some extent horrific. For example when Palin was being prepared for her one-on-one press interviews, especially regarding foreign policy and the fact that she though Iraq war was due to the 9/11 attacks. I was surprised. But when I came to know the results of the interview, I appreciated the hard work put up by that woman. She really did put up a good fight indeed. After the movie was over, I browsed some C-SPAN videos of actual GOP convention & Vice-Presidential debate on YouTube to see what actually Palin said, and I was surprised again to see the real version. She seemed very confident & perfectly on spot. If that’s what was going on behind the curtains in the Republican campaign, then I must say they had a very good campaign in the end. As we often say that a good book can never turn into a good movie, so I would say for actual events turned into films (Though Social Network and certain other films are an exception). It was a ten-week campaign turned into a 2-hour movie so it did miss out several essential things but it didn’t miss out what was really important. It surely captured the overall spirit of that campaign.

I simply loved the film. Do watch it, if you share the same taste of movies as I mentioned above.

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Dear John (2010) – A review

 

After watching ‘The Vow’ recently in the theater, I was tempted to watch more of Channing Tatum in romantic flicks. I was starting to expect more out of him and I started to think that he could be an amazing actor for serious romantic films. Just then, a friend of mine gave me a DVD of Dear John and WOW! It was an amazing film. I wonder how I missed this movie for so long.

The story of the movie is basically adapted from a novel of same name written by Nicholas Sparks and I have not been able to read any of his works but I have watched 3 movies adapted from his novels, namely ‘A walk to remember’,  ‘The Notebook’ & ‘The last song’ and the first two of them are among my all time favorites. So, I was expecting a very good romantic movie out of Dear John. Critics and reviewers have often criticized works of Sparks saying that they are way too emotional and sentimental. They say that he desperately writes characters that would make young girls weep. That’s true to some extent but I don’t find it entirely true. His characters do have some depth and an essence of reality. I know, those of you who have ‘The lucky one’ in mind won’t agree with these words of mine. But speaking of Dear John, I found the character of John Tyree very real and heartfelt.

John’s relationship with his father is the part that touched me the most. It was captured with great poise and the director Lasse Hallstorm did perfect justice to it. I could feel as if I was reading the book. It is very close to the heart and it grips you around it, and the major credit for that spellbinding effect goes to the actors Channing Tatum and Richard Jenkins. I’ve always admired Jenkins as an amazing actor; Tatum too was equally impressive alongside him. Both of them together can make you forget the world around you and take you along with them on an emotional ride like never before.

The romance between John and Savannah is equally wonderful and stays the USP of the film. The on-screen chemistry between Channing and Amanda is really wonderful and picturesque. I found it better than it was with Rachael McAdams in ‘The Vow’. So, has Tatum degraded as an actor or was he actually less comfortable co-staring alongside McAdams than Seyfried remains to be seen. I would go with the latter option though. The romance is real and warm. You feel connected and convinced. When the letters start, you’d expect the story to get stagnant and monotonous but it doesn’t. On the contrary it turns out to be the main storytelling and character-expanding medium. Excellent work! The letters are amazing. It does look a bit old-fashioned long distance relationship between a soldier and his beloved but I find it extremely beautiful and romantic. I am still passionate about old-fashioned romance and letters are still one of my favorite modes of expressing one’s feelings. So, full marks there from my end.

The only part of the story where I feel less convinced is when Savannah decides to marry the single father, who is her neighbor, because he is dying and has no one after his son. I think that the part where Savannah starts getting second thoughts to where the relationship is headed, is not portrayed with enough importance. I am assuming that it would be explained aptly in the novel but the director didn’t have that luxury. But still it is not that ugly and pathetic. It is still fine and doesn’t ruin everything. The last letter that Savannah writes to John, after Tim passes away, is a home run and seals the victory. You end up being completely moved as the ending credits start rolling. If you’re a person who loves sentimental movies and if you can connect yourself with the story being told, trust me, Dear John will make your eyes wet. It is an emotional odyssey that you’d not want to miss. It doesn’t have the romance of The Notebook or Titanic that will make your knees weak, but it’s the entire story, the characters, and the presentation that will make you take a dive in the ocean of tranquility. You’ll feel liberated and enriched. I feel sad that I missed it for this long. I highly recommend it to all of you, who have missed it so far like me, and who believe in whatever I said here. Awesome experience!

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