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Published on 05 Mar 1993 in Featured Texts, Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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The Manchurian Candidate

I don’t get it. As Dave Kehr has noted, the 1962 original was an audacious mix of cold war paranoia and twisted cabaret humor. Any remake that scuttles both had better have something good to replace them with; this offers only a vague retread of anticorporate thrillers from the 70s. The story’s been updated to the first gulf war (Manchurian is now just the name of an evil conglomerate) and deprived of its major shocks (involving formal inventiveness, over-the-top dialogue, and the way the incest is presented). Oddly, it does retain some of the original’s political murkinessthe right-wing villainess (Meryl Streep) resembles Hillary Clintonbut there’s no mythic or comic payoff. If you don’t care much about the first version, or what director Jonathan Demme’s name once meant, the cast does an OK job with Daniel Pyne and Dean Georgaris’s routine thriller script. But the bite found in the best recent political documentaries is missing. With Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber, Jon Voight, and Jeffrey Wright. R, 135 min. (JR)

Published on 03 Mar 1993 in Featured Texts, by admin

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The Day After Tomorrow

A whopping case of the greenhouse effect (or what I prefer to call Bush weather) melts the ice cores in Antarctica and floods Manhattan, which then freezes over; before long the disaster has nearly wiped out humanity as we know it (in other words, the U.S. and environs, though Canada is barely mentioned). Schlockmeister Roland Emmerich (Independence Day) has his usual field day with synthetic but enjoyable special effects and crosscutting between subplots (far fewer than usual). There are some fine ironic plot turns (Americans wind up in Mexican refugee camps, and the U.S. president declares, We were wrongI was wrong), but the story mainly hinges on whether ace climatologist Dennis Quaid can make up for his negligence as a father and get from Washington, D.C., to the New York Public Library before his son (Jake Gyllenhaal) and a few others run out of books to burn. All in all, good silly fun. With Ian Holm, Emmy Rossum, and Sela Ward. PG-13, 124 min. (JR)

Published on 03 Mar 1993 in Featured Texts, by admin

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The Cartel

This German TV documentary by Helmut Grosse (2002, in English and subtitled German) offers a concise and lucid account of the multiple ties between the second Bush administration and the oil and energy industries, many of which date back to the president’s membership in the secret Skull and Bones Society at Yale. Some of the material is familiar and obvious, but Grosse makes a strong case for the disproportionate influence of Texas on the national agenda, and he defuses likely charges of Eurocentric bias by limiting his interviews to American experts. (JR)

Published on 03 Mar 1993 in Featured Texts, by admin

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