Saturday, June 3, 2017

Our Brand Is Crisis

Year 9, Day 154 - 6/3/17 - Movie #2,649

BEFORE: And I'm back from documentary territory, ending on a political note, which leads me here - and Billy Bob Thornton carries over from "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot", so I'm going to consider the chain intact, even if it's technically not. 

THE PLOT: An American political consultant returns from self-imposed exile to help re-elect a controversial president in Bolivia, where she must compete with a long-term rival working for another candidate. 

AFTER: As you might imagine, this was originally supposed to come right after "28 Days", with Sandra Bullock carrying over.  But sometimes I realize that if I can just break up an obvious pairing like that, follow another path, I can squeeze a bunch of films in-between them, and that helps to extend the chain.  I mean, that was 18 or so days ago, so if I can figure out some more substitutions like that, I might be able to make it to my San Diego break in July after all.

I had my BFF Andy over last night, he was in town for just one day, and I gave him a look at the whole watchlist, laid out with connecting actors and circles and arrows - and Andy knows that these are not really the confused writings of a serial killer (merely a serial movie watcher) so he didn't suggest I get professional help.  But he noticed that I had left open slots for some prominent films coming out later this year, so he pointed out that it was like hockey, in that I'm not trying to hit the puck, I'm aiming for where the puck is going to be.  Exactly.   Umm, I think, I don't really get hockey.

But I'm still on politics, here the political drama is transplanted to Bolivia (but come on, it's probably a metaphor for the U.S.) - and hey, this is still American politics, it's just South American.  This probably could have been set anywhere, there's nothing all that special about Bolivia that required the movie was set there, except they have llamas and people wear those tiny hats.  This is based on a documentary about the 2002 election in Bolivia, where James Carville was a prominent strategist, and apparently that film drew comparisons to the U.S. elections of the same year, where politicians had to campaign and simultaneously sell America on the war in Iraq.

But this is the fictionalized version of that, because everything that happens IRL has to be turned into a movie, apparently.  Here the central candidate has to promise his people that he's not going to invite the IMF into Bolivia without a referendum and....oh sorry, I just dozed off for a minute there.  Most Americans, like me, probably have no idea with the International Monetary Fund is, or what the implications of inviting it into your country are.  For that matter, what's a "referendum"? Why not just say a "vote"?

But let's get to the good stuff, which is the political strategy, the dirty tricks, the somehow even more fun clean tricks, and the fact that Billy Bob Thornton is probably doing a serviceable James Carville impression here.  Bullock's character has a history with this guy, a past election where things went south and we gradually learn what happened there (though I'm not sure I fully understood it...).  And then there's negative campaigning, which you absolutely shouldn't do unless the other candidate does it first, or you can make it LOOK like the other guy does it first.  (Yep, this seems like America all right, even if it's South....).

And they accidentally predicted the results of the 2016 U.S. election - the day after the election, campaign promises go out the window and the country immediately regrets its decision, with massive protests in the street.  What the main character does at this point is completely unbelievable, for many reasons, not the least of which is that we've been told many times that she doesn't speak any Spanish. So, without saying any more, just be aware that's a massive NITPICK POINT.

Also starring Sandra Bullock (last seen in "28 Days"), Anthony Mackie (last seen in "The Night Before"), Joaquim de Almeida, Ann Dowd (last seen in "St. Vincent"), Scoot McNairy (last seen in "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice"), Zoe Kazan (last seen in "Revolutionary Road"), Dominic Flores, Reynaldo Pacheco, Louis Arcella, Octavio Gomez Berrios, Luis Chavez.

RATING: 6 out of 10 quotes from "The Art of War"

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