|Denzel Washington as Ben Marco in The Manchurian Candidate (dir. Jonathan Demme, 2004).|
One of the first pieces I wrote and recorded for WGSU’s Weekly Review was a review of Jonathan Demme’s The Manchurian Candidate, which I had seen over the summer of 2004. My review aired in the fall of that year as we headed into a presidential election that felt more than a little doomed. As I noted at the time, Demme’s remake was a political thriller for the age of late capitalism, with big business replacing the threat of communism in John Frankenheimer’s 1962 original and the Gulf War standing in for Korea. I found the film to be a lot of fun, driven by Demme’s energetic direction and juicy performances—the juiciest being Meryl Streep as Ellie Shaw, the scheming mother of a brainwashed vice presidential hopeful (Liev Schrieber), the latter of whom I described, in my undergraduate attempt to sound punchy and clever, as “a lobotomized Hamlet in a power suit.” Perhaps more than anything else, The Manchurian Candidate was instrumental in waking me up to the genius of Streep, coming fast on the heels of equally strong turns in such films as Adaptation (2002), The Hours (2002), and Angels in America (2003).
|Meryl Streep as Ellie Shaw.|