CONVENTIONAL WISDOM: Republican National Convention (2012) -vs- Democratic National Convention (2012)

September 6, 2012 Mark Sanchez

In less than two months Americans will write the final chapter of the recurring reality show we once called the presidential election. Former Massachusetts Governor Willard “Mitt” Romney emerged from testy GOP Smackdown primaries with his haircut intact. President Barack Obama didn’t have a Democrat opponent, but faced a tougher job: He had to govern during the run-up to the conventions.

Now the conventions are over, and it’s our turn to cast a pre-vote of sorts. Just how well – as TV events – did the parties establish their candidates and focus their messages for November? […]

Game Change (2012) -vs- Recount (2008)

March 9, 2012 Movie Smackdown

Four years ago, John McCain named Sarah Palin, a self-proclaimed “hockey mom” as his Republican running mate and upended the 2008 election. He was looking for a game-changer to help him compete against the Democratic candidate Barack Obama. Now, the story of that move, and the blow-back from it all is a new HBO film, Game Change, from director Jay Roach who also helmed the HBO film about the tied 2000 election, Recount. […]

The Ides of March (2011) -vs- Primary Colors (1998)

October 11, 2011 Bryce Zabel

The list of more-than-decent films about political campaigns is a short one. Nobody will ever forget Henry Fonda and Cliff Robertson in The Best Man or even The Candidate with the Kennedy-esque Robert Redford. During the Years of Lewinsky, Primary Colors took us into the thinly-disguised 1992 Clinton campaign. Now we have The Ides of March, proudly wearing its cynicism on its sleeve at a time when Obama gets pilloried for being practical. In the most recent films, the candidates have that certain problem we mentioned earlier. (Redford is famously remembered in The Candidate as muttering, after winning, “What do we do now?”, but there’s also a quick moment of a campaign worker leaving his room in the morning earlier in the film.)
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Green Zone (2010) -vs- The Hurt Locker (2009)

March 16, 2010 Beau DeMayo

It’s not a good time for the American occupation of Iraq. The news from “over there” is that the followers of Moktada al-Sadr, the radical cleric who led the Shia insurgency against the American occupation, have emerged as Iraq’s equivalent of the 1994 Republican Party. Meanwhile, back in the United States, Americans voted about Iraq, too, refusing to give “Green Zone” any mandate whatsoever. And, keep in mind that the other Iraq film that just won the Best Picture Oscar, “The Hurt Locker,” basically was one of the worst-peforming winners in that category ever. Maybe it’s just the hot button political sensitivities, war-weariness, or that it is simply “too soon.” Other critics can decide that, however, because here at the Smack, we simply want to know which film about the Iraq War gets it most right, box-office be damned!
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