The Movie Critic Vote

Like Ross, I think John Podhoretz found the best way to approach the oblivious, stupid, super-earnestness of Lions for Lambs. I found the movie something of a challenge to review (though, yes, I managed), in part because of the total Iraq War overkill I’ve experienced at the movies this fall. It’s always been clear that the Bush presidency and the Republican leadership in Congress have severely agitated a number of outspoken liberals in the movie industry. One would hope that they’d be able to channel this into some angry, passionate responses. Some of the best films of the 1970s were reactions to the cultural and political situation. Iraq may be the new Vietnam, but Valley of Elah isn’t even close to the new Deer Hunter, much less the new Apocalypse Now. (And even a stronger political film like Michael Clayton doesn’t match up to a 70s counterpart like The Conversation.)

But instead, as Dana Stevens notes, it now seems to have had a serious degrading effect on their work. In Lions for Lambs, Redford, the man who made All the President’s Men — arguably the best Washington movie of all time — seems to have been reduced to a marginally more tolerable Rosie O’Donnell. Meanwhile, Brian de Palma, in the season’s worst film, has momentarily given up on spinning out crude, exploitative dreck and turned to dishing up crude, exploitative, political dreck. (More on that another day.) It’s like half of Tinseltown is in meltdown.

Discarding personal preference, policy, politics, and all that complicated stuff that everyone gets so worked up over, I’m inclined to think that, from the perspective of the entertainment industry — or at least its most faithful and regular consumers — a Democratic presidency, with any candidate, would be the best thing. Of course, we could see side effects going the other way, too, starting, I’d wager, with Joel Surnow and 24...