Reel Politics

Sick of political coverage? Race to the cure before hitting the ballot box with a little help from the idiot box and a healthy dose of Vitamin A&E.

Martina Marosi

 

 

Have you been suffering a massive and painful election for the past four years? Trying to see things in more than two dimensions but the old-fashioned way has got you seeing everything through shades of red and blue?

Big-city snake-oil salesmen might be tapping their canes and tipping their straw hats trying to peddle the latest and greatest thing to swing through town since aught-eight, but keen-eyed country folk know that with a little help from the silver screen they can dismiss the grandstanding as something we’ve all seen before.

After cooling their heels in the wake of the Republican and Democratic national conventions, America’s spin doctors might lay claim to the cure for what ails ya, but Grand Old A&E has rustled up a few home remedies in the form of classic and easily digestible movies fit to heal hypochondriacs, pacify polemics and soothe even the most savage of breasts.

 

“Collapse”

2009

Directed by Chris Smith

Starring Michael Ruppert

Emotionally constipated? This logorrheic tour-de-force is sure to get the blood boiling and the juices flowing. Director Smith interviewed radical thinker and conspiratorial author Ruppert for 14 hours in an abandoned warehouse for Smith’s 82-minute documentary on the imminent collapse of the industrialized world as we know it. “Collapse” features the sprawling theories of the paranoid and brilliant Ruppert; presaging doom in an age of optimism and whose personal and psychological breakdown in the shadows of his own obsession is as captivating and emotionally evocative as the grand narrative he weaves because of it.

 

“They Live”

1988

Directed by John Carpenter

Starring Roddy Piper, Keith David, Meg Foster

Seeing things? Good. Carpenter wrote and directed this sci-fi classic that takes a page straight out of the good book of schlock doctrine and goes down easy when taken with “Collapse.” “They Live” sets its sights on the decline of an economy built on consumption and greed. When protagonist George Nada (Piper) discovers a pair of special glasses that allow him to see that reality is actually controlled by a group of aliens who use consumerism and subliminal messages to induce compliance and conformity in their human subjects, viewers bear witness to Carpenter’s dystopian vision of a ready-made society made ready to collapse. It’s like “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” meets “State and Revolution” by Vladimir Lenin, where members of the state are, of course, extraterrestrial aliens and their elite human collaborators.

 

“Bananas”

1971

Directed by Woody Allen

Starring Woody Allen, Louise Lasser, Carlos Montalbán

Viewers might want to supply their own — as this flick is entirely devoid of its titular fruit.

In one of Allen’s absurdist comedy classics, hapless soul and hopeless romantic Fielding Mellish (Allen) is thrown into a revolutionary coup in the fictionalized Latin-American country of San Marcos. Initially in San Marcos only in hopes of impressing the social activist who broke his heart, Mellish later finds himself as the dictator of the banana republic, with the army fatigues and fake beard to prove it. Allen takes his cues from vaudevillian slapstick and surrealist humor for this gaffe-ridden satire of one entirely unqualified individual’s accidental rise to — and subsequent fall from — power.

 

“Duck Soup”

1933

Directed by Leo McCarey

Starring Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx

Move over, chicken noodle. Chaos ensues when Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho) is appointed as the leader of “Freedonia,” which is currently under attack by a neighboring nation. The egotistical and ineffectual Firefly appoints two bumbling enemy spies (Chico and Harpo) to his cabinet, whose double-agent actions proceed to bring Freedonia to war. Borders between nations are blurred when everyone loses sight of just who is fighting whom — and for what. In typical Marx fashion, an elegant and anarchic bedlam stomps about in the resulting mess; fake wigs, grease-paint mustaches, horns and all.