Silver Screen: The Ides of March ****

Silver Screen: The Ides of March  ****
More Articles
Silver Screen: Confidence Man: The Hugh DeNeal Story Is Stranger than Fiction
Silver Screen: Hereafter *
Silver Screen: Machete **
Silver Screen: Saw VII 3D Zero Stars
Silver Screen: Takers *1/2
Silver Screen: 127 Hours ****
Silver Screen: Bad Teacher ***
Silver Screen: Battle: Los Angeles **
Big Muddy Film Festival 33
Silver Screen: Black Swan ****
Silver Screen: Blue Valentine ****
Silver Screen: Bridesmaids ****
Silver Screen: Captain America **
Silver Screen: Cars II *1/2
Silver Screen: Case Thirty-nine *
Silver Screen: Cedar Rapids ****
Silver Screen: Charlie Saint Cloud **
Silver Screen: Contagion ****1/2
Silver Screen: Cowboys & Aliens ***
Silver Screen: Crazy, Stupid, Love **
Silver Screen: Despicable Me **1/2
Silver Screen: Devil ***
Silver Screen: Dinner for Schmucks *1/2
Silver Screen: Director Rusty Nails Presents... Dead On: The Life and Cinema of George A. Romero
Silver Screen: Don't Be Afraid of the Dark **
Silver Screen: Dream House *1/2
Silver Screen: Drive ****1/2
Silver Screen: Drive Angry 3D **1/2
Silver Screen: Due Date ***1/2
Silver Screen: Easy A ***1/2
Silver Screen: Eat Pray Love ***
Silver Screen: Fast Five **1/2
Silver Screen: Fifty/Fifty ****
Silver Screen: Final Destination V **
Silver Screen: Friends with Benefits **
Silver Screen: Fright Night ***
Silver Screen: Get Him to the Greek ***
Silver Screen: Going the Distance ***
Silver Screen: Green Lantern *1/2
Silver Screen: Grown Ups *
Silver Screen: Hall Pass *1/2
Silver Screen: Hanna ****
Silver Screen: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II ****
Silver Screen: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I ***
Silver Screen: Horrible Bosses **1/2
Silver Screen: How Do You Know ***
Silver Screen: I Am Number Four *
Silver Screen: Inception ****1/2
Silver Screen: Insidious ***1/2
Silver Screen: Jackass 3D **1/2
Silver Screen: Jonah Hex *
Silver Screen: Josh Hyde’s Postcards and Love Letters
Silver Screen: Just Go with It *
Silver Screen: Knight and Day *1/2
Silver Screen: Kung Fu Panda II ***
Silver Screen: Larry Crowne *1/2
Silver Screen: Let Me In ***
Silver Screen: Life as We Know It *1/2
Silver Screen: Limitless ***
Silver Screen: Megamind ***1/2
Silver Screen: Midnight in Paris ****
Silver Screen: Moneyball ***1/2
Silver Screen: My Soul to Take 3D 1/2*
Silver Screen: No Strings Attached ***
Silver Screen: One Day **
Silver Screen: Our Idiot Brother ***
Silver Screen: Paranormal Activity II ***1/2
Silver Screen: Paul ***1/2
Silver Screen: Piranha 3D ***1/2
Silver Screen: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides *1/2
Silver Screen: Predators ***
Silver Screen: Priest 1/2*
Silver Screen: Red ***
Silver Screen: Rise of the Planet of the Apes ****
Silver Screen: Salt ***
Silver Screen: Scott Pilgrim versus the World ***1/2
Silver Screen: Scream IV *
Silver Screen: Sex and the City II 1/2*
Silver Screen: Shaft and Coffy: Novotny Lawrence Discusses the Blaxploitation Movement
Silver Screen: Shark Night 3D 1/2* -- Apollo 18 **
Silver Screen: Skyline *
Silver Screen: Soldiers Speak Out: Carbondale Oscar Winner Barb Trent’s Latest Film
Silver Screen: Something Borrowed *
Silver Screen: Source Code ****1/2
Silver Screen: Splice ****
Silver Screen: Straw Dogs *1/2
Silver Screen: Straw Dogs *1/2
Silver Screen: Super Eight ****
Silver Screen: The A-Team **1/2
Silver Screen: The Academy Honors... The Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale
Silver Screen: The Adjustment Bureau *1/2
Silver Screen: The American ****
Silver Screen: The Audubon Trilogy: Fugitive Narratives and the Drama of the Natural World
Silver Screen: The Debt ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Dilemma *1/2
Silver Screen: The Expendables **1/2
Silver Screen: The Fighter ****
Silver Screen: The Green Hornet **1/2
Silver Screen: The Hangover Part II **1/2
Silver Screen: The Karate Kid ***
Silver Screen: The Karate Kid ***
Silver Screen: The King's Speech ****
Silver Screen: The Last Airbender *
Silver Screen: The Last Exorcism ***
Silver Screen: The Lincoln Lawyer ***
Silver Screen: The Mechanic **1/2
Silver Screen: The Next Three Days ***
Silver Screen: The Other Guys ***
Silver Screen: The Rite *
Silver Screen: The Roommate *1/2
Silver Screen: The Score Card , February 24, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card , February 3, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card , March 31, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card , September 16, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card , September 23, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card , September 30, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card August 19, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card August 26, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card August 5, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card July 8, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card September 2, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card September 9, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, April 14, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, April 21, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, April 28, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, April 7, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, August 19, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, August 25, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, August 4, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, December 16, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, December 2, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, December 9, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, February 10, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, February 17, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, January 13, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, January 20, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, January 27, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, July 14, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, July 21, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, July 28, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, July 7, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, June 16, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, June 23, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, June 30, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, June 9, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, March 10, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, March 24, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, March 3, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, May 12, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, May 19, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, May 26, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, May 5, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, November 11, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, November 18, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, November 4, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 06, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 14, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 21, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 28, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 7, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 01, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 15, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 22, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 29, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 8, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard July 01, 2020 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard July 15, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard July 22, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard July 29, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard June 10, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard June 17, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard June 24, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Social Network ****1/2
Silver Screen: The Sorcerer's Apprentice **
Silver Screen: The Tourist **
Silver Screen: The Town ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Tree of Life *****
Silver Screen: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse *1/2
Silver Screen: Thirty Minutes or Less ***1/2
Silver Screen: Thor ***
Silver Screen: Toy Story III ****
Silver Screen: Transformers: Dark of the Moon *1/2
Silver Screen: True Grit ****1/2
Silver Screen: Unknown ***
Silver Screen: Unstoppable **
Silver Screen: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps ****
Silver Screen: Water for Elephants ***
Silver Screen: X-Men: First Class ***
Silver Screen: Your Highness ***1/2
Silver Screen: Zookeeper *


Who:
What:
Where:
When:
Silver Screen: The Ides of March ****
Bryan Miller

Betrayal is the predominant theme in The Ides of March, no surprise given the Shakespearean reference in the title. But the backstabbing in director, cowriter, and costar George Clooney's film is less literal and more ideological, and its disillusioned protagonist is the fall guy for the Obama generation.

The Ides of March opens with an excellent, quiet scene in which young political operator Stephen Myers (Ryan Gosling) sits on an empty stage before a vacant theater and blithely runs through his candidate's talking points during a sound check before a rally. But his flat, distracted delivery of the lines is no comment on how he actually feels about the sentiment; Stephen is a true believer, convinced of both the need for radical political change and the notion that his boss may be the only man in America positioned to achieve it.

The candidate is Mike Morris (Clooney), a governor with a lefty's dream agenda: He's unabashedly opposed to the blurring of the line between church and state, enthusiastic in his support of green energy, and vocal and explicit when talking about the wealth disparity between the top few percent of Americans and the sinking lower and middle classes. He's a firebrand with a patient and measured delivery, poised to seize the Democratic nomination and make a run for the White House against a decidedly weak Republican field. All that stands between him and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is a Democratic primary against a wishy-washy, business-as-usual insider opponent.

The action of the film takes place within a couple of tense weeks as Stephen and his direct supervisor, campaign manager Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman) struggle to get the endorsement of a prominent senator (Jeffrey Wright) and lock up the nomination. But dirty tricks from within the party, set into motion by rival politico Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti), with a little assistance from a persistent New York Times reporter (Marisa Tomei) threaten to undo all their hard work. When a scandal involving a sexy intern (Evan Rachel Wood) threatens to blow up at the most inopportune time, Stephen steps in to run interference but unwittingly puts himself in over his head.

But The Ides of March isn't a conspiracy thriller, it's a political coming-of-age movie. Stephen is young, but he's no starry-eyed kid. He's a schemer and a manipulator himself who thinks he has a handle on the game and an armor of cynicism. What Clooney and cowriter Grant Heslov, working off Beau Willimon's play Farragut North, reveal is the depths to which the candidates and their employees will sink, ugliness that even the most jaded of us fear but don't truly understand. That they use a few hoary tropes-- sexy interns? really?-- and opt for more lurid conflict than the more droll but devastating money-driven impediments to the process is a bit of a dramatic cheat, but the underlying themes remain the same.

Clooney may not be a great director, but he's a pretty damn good one. There are a couple of genuinely inspired scenes that are perfectly realized, namely one in which Stephen makes a phone call to Morris from the back of a room during a press conference, and he gives the dialogue-heavy drama the momentum of an action flick. It doesn't hurt his cause that he has one of the best casts of the year, with the exceptional Gosling backed up by some phenomenal supporting players, especially the rival showdown between Giamatti and Hoffman. And although his character has relatively little screen time, Clooney brings a gravitas to Morris that makes him an absolutely plausible political firebrand.

In the play on which the movie is based, the candidate never actually makes an appearance but is the invisible fulcrum around which the action turns. Clooney and Heslov were wise to change that in the film adaptation, not just because it gives George some face time-- the Clooney and Gosling onscreen pairing has almost certainly inspired more than a few detachable showerheads to be removed from their mounts-- but also because the scope of the movie demands it. Moreover, though, it gives Clooney the opportunity to be more pointed in his critique. If Farragut North is about broader disenchantment with the political process, The Ides of March is concerned with a more specific disillusionment, one rather bluntly espoused as Clooney's empty candidate says all the right things while supporters wave stylized signs of his face emblazoned with the word “believe.”

Clooney's statement: “Et tu, Barack?”

Follow Bryan Miller on Twitter @bmillercomedy.