It’s election day in the U.S. of A. and though we Canadians have little direct stake in the results, it’s easy to get all caught up in the hysteria. If you’re feeling the buzz but don’t care to sit through the many hours of punditry and ballot counting due to take over this evening’s prime-time TV slots, allow Cult MTL to make a handful of quality home video viewing suggestions for you:
The War Room (Criterion)
Twenty years after the fact, it’s hard to believe that television celebrities James Carville and George Stephanopoulos were ever anything more than talk show hosts. Chris Hegedus and D. A. Pennebaker’s brilliant doc The War Room proves otherwise, taking you behind the scenes of the 1992 presidential election, straight into the belly of the beast that was Team Clinton’s brain trust, where the Carville/Stephanopoulos Bush-crushing dream team was born. The film is surprisingly light and quite fun, breezing by at a cool 96 minutes. Recently released by the Criterion Collection and featuring a stunning new transfer of the original gritty, handheld 16mm footage, The War Room Blu-ray includes a ton of bonus goodies such as the 2008 follow-up feature-length film, Return of The War Room along with interviews, a panel discussion and more.
The Ides of March (Alliance)
Obama and Romney aren’t the most unattractive or dull gentlemen to run for office (cough, Harper, cough) but who wouldn’t rather spend a couple of hours with mega-studs George Clooney and Ryan Gosling instead? The Ides of March is clearly inspired by ’70s character-driven political thrillers like All the President’s Men and The Parallax View, but never feels dated or dull as it follows an idealistic young campaign worker (Gosling) negotiating his way around a scandal that threatens to destroy his candidate Clooney’s shot at the Oval Office. Some might say that the success of the film owes a lot to the expectation that Gosling could, at any moment, snap and either furiously make out with anyone on screen or beat them to a bloody pulp. It’s more likely just a result of some seriously solid filmmaking.
The Campaign (Warner Home Entertainment)
Sometimes it’s just too damn hard to take politics seriously. For those of you who prefer poop jokes to potboilers, Warner offers up the most recent Will Ferrell/Zach Galifianakis exercise in sophomoric farce, The Campaign. A nuclear bomb at the box-office when it debuted several months ago, the film manages to strike just the right ridiculous tone to remedy the current onslaught of election coverage, lampooning every stereotype of the campaign trail from the debates to the baby-kissing. The Blu-ray disc, which hit shelves just last week, features not one, but two different cuts of the film along with nearly a half-hour of fairly hilarious deleted scenes, improv outtakes and gag-reel footage. ■