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My favorite aspect about films is the manner in which we as intellectual beings differ upon the very same stimuli.

How one person can aggressively disagree about the quality and nature of the story as told before them. How it is possible to have complete interpretive parallels in thought.

Moriarty went into THE CONTENDER calling it a double.... Meaning that in the great big baseball game of filmic art... the movie only got to second base....

Well... It is one helluva double. As I see it, when this film came up to bat... Rod Lurie was the signal man off third base telling Christian Slater to swing at the pitch that Gary Oldman was throwing... He had already missed twice, when suddenly he connected. The first to score from the hit was Jeff Bridges, who was quietly residing on 3rd Base. Next Joan Allen came in. Phillip Baker Hall was the outfielder that was a little slow getting to the ball, but he tossed it from far left field. The 3rd Baseman (composer Larry Groupé) Was caught staring at Sam Elliot, who was rounding third... missed the ball which hopped at a weird angle towards the pitcher’s mound, where Oldman fielded it to his catcher... William Peterson, who couldn’t quite tag Elliot out, but quickly threw the ball to second, Oldman fell to the mound to avoid being hit thereby holding Slater at 2nd. In all... the scored double knocked 3 runs in, resulted in a wonderful highlight defensive moment in keeping Slater at second.

Though technically a double.. the film scored and gave quite a few highlights. Is it a homerun? No... But damn if it didn’t put points up on the board.

Alright... so I’m wallowing in metaphor, but it’s my interpretation of the Professor’s parallel. Oh, and if I remember correctly... before the next pitch, Slater stole third.. but technically that wasn’t part of the actual hit... hehehe

Let me explain this in plain speak. THE CONTENDER is a very very very very solid film. It isn’t Babe Ruth pointing to the left outfield stands and knocking the ball there... but it’s a winner all the same. It won’t reside in the great halls of history for all time... But it’s a damn fine film.

We saw the same film, saw the same hit and we saw where the base runner managed to get to... it is only... Moriarty was either too busy with his peanuts and buttered popcorn and missed the details... heheheh... ACTUALLY... to be fair... his upbringing, particular tastes and aesthetics delivered a different perception of the same film.

For example... He felt that Gary Oldman was a thinly veiled Snidely Whiplash styled cartoon character... just this side of twisting his mustache and winking in the camera. He felt that his look, what he does and how he is presented is always as... THE BAD GUY.

I disagree. I adored Gary Oldman’s character. He’s an executive producer on the film, and it is my belief that he turned in some of his best work.

Oldman is a staunch right wing conservative. He is pro-life. He also holds the Executive Office in the highest of esteem. In his eyes, it is a crime that a ‘second choice’ candidate... the inferior candidate obtains the office for which there is a better choice. He lost the office to Bridges character... he accepted it as the will of the people. But here, this is his watch... and both the people and a great many others prefer William Peterson’s Hathaway as the principal candidate for the office of Vice-President. It is now his duty to get that person in office. It’s his duty to history and to honor this country to ensure that the best man get the job.

And thus we have the confrontation. The chess pieces are painted black and white and we play. Oldman doesn’t hate Joan Allen’s character, he just doesn’t feel she’s the best person for the position... and it is with that belief that he justifies... IN HIS MIND... the actions that he takes.

He doesn’t CREATE the evidence and the testimony that he is given. That was information that turned up in the investigation of who Joan Allen’s character was. And later as more evidence is turned up, his part in the game is basically over....

Ultimately... the tactics he takes are reprehensible... but often times in politics, this is the case with tactics.

I find Oldman’s character sad, misguided... a defeated political bulldog. I see Oldman’s character as his own wife views him. A once great man that has ruined himself with his innuendo and self-righteousness. Oldman’s Congressman was never the ‘little’ man that McCarthy was... rather, he is a little Nixon, a man that should have been known for opening up China, but is forever tainted with the ratfucking and the bugging and the dirty tricks that Watergate uncovered. Oldman’s character would’ve been considered through history as being a man that made great strides in the obliteration of hate crimes and championing racial issues... save for this... the exclamation to his term as public servant.

Now, when he goes passionately over the top on his position on Abortion and the sanctity of the unborn children... Well, while I personally do not agree with his stance... I certainly understand the passion... This is an issue that is very much the sort that if you feel strongly... one way or another upon it... You will PASSIONATELY defend your position and most likely... PASSIONATELY attack the opposing thought upon it.

This isn’t a BAD GUY in the Snidely Whiplash mold... this is a complex multifaceted character that has chosen... what we leftist minded folks will believe is the WRONG PATH.

However, there is always the other side to this. If... if you are a staunch conservative... then his outcries on abortion, marital infidelities, deviant sex, etc... Well those are all things you believe in. He isn’t a bad guy... he’s suddenly... ‘a moral compass’. It just depends on your point of view.

When I talked to Moriarty about this, he pointed out that as soon as he began leaking the photos to the internet and to the press... and began using the media as a blunt instrument with which to attack her... Well... I hate to point this out, but.... ummm... that’s modern politics... hell, go back to the day of the political machines that Capra’s films fought against... In those days, gigantic big business monopolies controlling entire states were the bad guys.... In today’s world of politics...

Matt Drudge is an e-mail away. Ambush reporting is awaiting a chance to rip at meat. This is part of the political machine of today... and it is available to the motivated individual.

Doesn’t make it right. Doesn’t make it just... But as a narrative force in a film... Yeah.. I like it.

As for Joan Allen’s tact of ‘weathering the storm’ her edict that, “I won’t answer because it is not ok that they asked,” philosophy... I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH.

Personal issues like sex... I don’t believe are the playing ground of the press, politics and as such... I hold that given the entire story of this film... the message that... whether you did right or wrong... Whether you married your high school sweetheart and never once deviated from that point... Or whether you’re a swinging couple that trades partners like you’re at a SQUARE DANCE... that your position should always be... NO COMMENT when it comes to your personal life... UNLESS you feel free to discuss it... otherwise... it is private.

For me, through the entire Clinton/Lewinsky scandal, the only person that had a right to an opinion on the affair was Hillary. If it was ok with her, if she could tolerate it, if it was already known... whatever the case may be... It is an intimate venture of consenting adults.. and not the place of the Federal Government. And I simply do not accept that to serve public office, your bedroom is on display.

Not only should he of not answered anything... it was not ok to ask the questions. And after going through that very very public case... I do think it is Very very appropriate to deal with the material in a fictional... distanced manner.

Is the film a liberal idealistic display?

Um, yeah... but what the hell is wrong with that? What the hell is wrong with Idealism? Must we always exist in Cynical society where it must end badly to be realistic... where everything must be reprehensible.

The adage of... ‘that is not how it would happen’ is such malarkey. Who said movies were about truth, movies... for me... are always about the way it either is... or should be.

For me, I love inspirational liberal agendas. I am very much a social reformist when ya boil me down. I believe we should remove guns, not movies. I believe we should focus on education, not censorship. I believe we should focus on science and medicine rather than the military industrial complex. I believe your voting history and political position are on trial for your candidacy, not who you once screwed, what you once ingested or how many parking tickets you had in college.

And i believe in this film. I enjoyed it. It’s a nice ideologically sound liberal story for those of us that believe. Is it a GREAT FILM? No, I don’t think so. But it does have two stabs at greatness.

Jeff Bridges’ President is magnificent. His quirks and eccentricities are wonderful... the pentameter in which his character delivers his speeches and addresses... a joy. I imagine that being in the White House for... 2 terms... that in the second half of that second term... The White House feels like that funny pair of sneakers you love to wear. You wear them in all the inappropriate ways... The way he orders strange quirky foods, uses his private bowling alley, delegates responsibility and the like... Very keen. Very astute.

And second, Gary Oldman. His Congressman Shelly Runyon is a textured and difficult man to out and out hate for me. Public servants that lose their way are always sad. They once had a dream to change things for the better... somewhere on that bitter path... it can change you. This film, and this character, show you quite simply how a good man can become the bad guy blindly. Doing the wrong thing to do what he feels is right. Complicated.

Also in the kudo box...

Joan Allen, who is really really good... but personally, Joan is always this good. Stoically controlled isn’t a high score point to me. But she is solid and absolutely believable as being a female nominee for Vice President.

Christian Slater is wonderful as well. I love his youthful geekiness... his idealistic independence. He’s determined to do what is right... partisan politics... doing what is right is of the most importance... not party allegiances. Watch him in the White House... he’s radiant.

Sam Elliot... as always, Sam is the absolute swingingest dick in town. Listen to him... watch him when Oldman asks him to look him in the eye to confirm something.... Is he not the coolest most together man on the planet there. Sam Elliot was the extra topping on this movie that made that double score 3 runs. He’s great.

What kept it from being that perfect homerun?

Well... The score. It was just so OBVIOUSLY placed... sooo ham handed... that it made me roll my eyes from time to time. Now OBVIOUS scoring can be great... witness John Williams’ STAR WARS music, but here... Larry Groupé

well... quite simply... Larry ain’t no John Williams (I love double negatives).

All in all... a very very very strong film. A solid film that will most likely just miss out on my top ten of the year come January... but if you’re seeing 15 movies this year and you’re a liberal... this should be one of em.

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