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