Sunday, March 22, 2009

3/15/09: The American President (1995)

This week's film choices were selected by one of my oldest and dearest friends, Miami Herald film critic Connie Ogle. It is the first time I have allowed somebody else to hand-pick the week's cinematic agenda—and given her consummate taste in films, I expect the average grade this week to be noticably higher than usual. I'll take stock at week's end to see how she fared.

We begin the week with a beautiful comedy-drama directed by Rob Reiner. It's a great old-fashioned romantic movie that would have been the perfect vehicle for Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn back in the 1950s. Widowed president Michael Douglas meets lobbyist Annette Bening, and begins the politically sensitive undertaking of courting her. Produced a few years before The West Wing, this film contains some of the same themes, jokes and even cast members as his landmark TV series about the personal and professional machinations of a Democrat in the White House. Filled with crackling dialogue and wonderful humor, The American President is the kind of movie I wish I could see every day. Douglas is wise, confident and inspiring, and the entire cast performs flawlessly; Michael J. Fox and Martin Sheen are particularly memorable as members of the president's staff, and Bening is the dictionary definition of sweet and charming. Rating: 5/5.

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