the manchurian candidate

bam's current "village voice best of 2004" series serves a valuable purpose in that it allows me to catch up on films that i refused to pay ten dollars to see last year. so i saw the manchurian candidate last night. i didn't read too many reviews of the film when it was first released, so i don't know if anybody pointed out the most glaring error of this missed opportunity of a movie (especially in regard to what it could have pointed out about the current political landscape): in the original manchurian shaw is the programmed assassin who is forced to kill the presidential candidate so that his mother's second husband -- a milquetoast mccarthy-esque senator under her thumb as a communist-controlled puppet -- can ascend the throne as vice-presidential candidate. but in the remake shaw is both a programmed assassin and the senator/vice-presidential candidate. this makes no sense because as a vp candidate shaw would be under surveillance twenty-four hours a day by the scoop-obsessed press and an adoring public (there might also be his own handlers, pr people, bodyguards, etc., but i'll put that aside for now, assuming along the lines of the film's own logic that they're all in on the conspiracy). the remake tries to get around this problem by making [SPOILER WARNING -- i learned my lesson after my high tension review goof] marco the patsy, but the scene in which shaw kills senator jordan and jocelyne is rendered completely ridiculous because of this plot tweak. not only that, but because the script never establishes a relationship between the two, shaw's killing of jocelyne is hardly as poignant as the original, when shaw and her are about to ride off into the sunset before mommy sends him off to perform his evil deed. who can forget the shot in the original when shaw, after killing jocelyn, walks away from the murders still brainwashed but unknowingly crying thick tears of pain? the only thing i liked about the new manchurian was streep's performance which, while over the top, was perfectly creepy during the near-incest scene.
btw, i'll be getting around to that baillie/marker comparison soon, i'm sure yr all trembling in anticipation . . .


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