Tag Archives: Christopher Guest

Tippecanoe and Movies, Too

Fed up with politicians’ monkeyshines? Can’t wait til the elections in November are finally over? Is that what’s botherin’ you, Punky?

Well, you’ve come to the right blog. Movies that point out the absurdities of elections, governments and political processes have become one of my favorite mini-genres. Blame it on Watergate: that was the big story around the time I was old enough to start paying any attention at all to any kind of news. Or maybe it was all those evenings watching “Laugh-In” with my politically-astute mom when I was a cine-tot. For whatever reason, to me real-life political topics almost inevitably swerve into the realm of farce.

So if you’re in the mood to just turn all those rascals out, here are a few appropriate flicks:

“In the Loop”: Be prepared to turn on the subtitles, and possibly stop and re-watch a few scenes, to get the hang of this one. Your efforts will be rewarded with hilarious dialogue, particularly the tapestries of high-speed, inspired Scottish profanity woven by Malcolm Tucker (played by Peter Capaldi).

“Idiocracy”: Imagine a world in which people believe that irrigating farms with Gatorade is a good idea, and the president’s name is Frito. Depending on your mood, this one will either console you by showing how much dumber the human race could be, or depress you by showing how much dumber the human race is likely to become.

“Dr. Strangelove”: OK, confession time: this post is really just an excuse for me to write about my favorite flick of all time*. “Strangelove” spells out all you need to do: just keep your bodily fluids pure, and never let the Russkies see the Big Board.

“C.S.A.”: What if the Confederates won the American Civil War? This one is horrifying and hilarious by turns. Whether this highly-detailed alternate history seems plausible to you or not, it’s at least thought-provoking.

“The Mouse on the Moon”:  You’re a tiny mythical country in need of a spot of cash for some new plumbing. What do you do? Hit up a couple of superpowers for the money by pitting them against each other, of course. Whimsical and dry as only the British seem to be able to do, with nods to Jules Verne and Georges Méliès in the look of the British rocket’s interior and the moon’s surface.

“Duck Soup”: Hail, hail, Freedonia! When disputes arise with your neighbor, do like Harpo Marx does: take off your shoes, roll up your pants, climb into that neighbor’s lemonade dispenser and make bicycling motions with your legs. (This is probably what really goes on behind closed doors at the U.N.)

“The Juche Idea”: If Christopher Guest made a film about North Korea, it might look like this. This mockumentary about a South Korean video artist in the land of Kim Jong Il includes the subtitle, “Your video ‘Dentures of Imperialism’ seems underdeveloped. It doesn’t quite make sense, and I’m not sure what the point is.” Well, that makes two of us, sunshine. If you have insight in to this one, readers, feel free to elucidate in a comment!

“Election”: This is what happens when you mess with destiny by trying to rig a high school’s election for class president. Reese Witherspoon‘s wide-eyed, straitlaced delivery of the phrase “It’s a travesty!” is just one of the delights of this cynical little flick.

“Four Lions”: Four dedicated but dimwitted Islamic fundamentalists decide to make a statement that London can’t ignore. What could go wrong? You’ll have a hard time getting this one out of your head. It’s an unsettling mix of the broadest British slapstick, and truly shocking bursts of menace and tragedy. Whatever humor remains by the end has turned an absurdist shade of utter pitch-black. (Watching with subtitles turned on is the only way to understand what’s going on in some of the scenes, especially those which layer Arabic insults on top of 21st-century UK slang.)

*Depending on the day, my favorite flick alternates between “Strangelove” and “Sunset Boulevard”.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,