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No Snow? No Problem.
No Snow? No Problem.
Evelyn Sagor and Sophia SyversonFebruary 9, 2024
Missing from this picture is Senior Jack Riley.
Not a Trivial Pursuit: RAHS Knowledge Bowl Competing at Nationals
Naima Sheikh-Mohamed, Co-Editor-in-Chief • February 9, 2024
RAHS Celebrates Black History Month
RAHS Celebrates Black History Month
Aryana Berhane, Junior Editor • February 9, 2024
Erik At The Movies: Godzilla Minus One
Erik At The Movies: Godzilla Minus One
Erik Larson, Staff Writer • February 9, 2024
Erik At The Movies: A Presidents Day Special
Erik At The Movies: A Presidents Day Special
Erik Larson, Staff Writer • February 9, 2024
Erik At The Movies: Malcolm X
Erik At The Movies: Malcolm X
Erik Larson, Staff Writer • February 8, 2024
Alpine Ski Season Recap
Alpine Ski Season Recap
Melia Conrath, Junior Editor • February 8, 2024
RAHS Choirs
RAHS Choirs
Ayanna Churcher, Staff Writer • February 8, 2024
Benson Boone’s new single, “Beautiful Things.”
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Annika Wilkowske and Amelie NickelFebruary 8, 2024
Ms. Przepioras classroom full of green.
Classroom Colors Impact on Learning
Ainsley Jakaboski, Staff Writer • February 8, 2024
PSEO Students: Experiences and Information
PSEO Students: Experiences and Information
Ayanna Churcher, Staff Writer • February 8, 2024
Black History Month Book Recommendation: Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Black History Month Book Recommendation: Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Evelyn Johnson, Staff writer • February 8, 2024
Death in Her Hands: Book Review
Death in Her Hands: Book Review
Ayanna Churcher, Staff Writer • February 8, 2024

Erik At The Movies: A Presidents Day Special

Erik+At+The+Movies%3A+A+Presidents+Day+Special

For basically the entirety of my life, I have been fascinated with the office of the President of the United States. Each of the 45 men to have held the office (Grover Cleveland counts for two) have such fascinating stories to tell, and I have created this list as an early celebration for Presidents Day on February 19th. These 10 stories are all: about real presidents, star them, or feature fictional holders of the office. If any of these sound remotely interesting I recommend that you consider checking them out, so please enjoy! And have a happy Presidents Day!

Bedtime For Bonzo (1951)

I fought a losing battle with a scene-stealer with a built-in edge: he was a chimpanzee!

Ronald Reagan was the 40th president of the United States of America. Before this, he was the Governor of California, President of the Screen Actors Guild, and a famous actor in his own right. However, this happens to be his most famous film. Despite being virtually unseen in the modern day, Bedtime For Bonzo still manages to have a lasting influence in the American vernacular. Achieving its “mythic” status as the butt of the joke on the Tonight Show With Johnny Carson, because it’s the funny monkey movie with the guy who sold the Contra’s Iranian made guns. The story follows Reagan as a professor who seeks to prove that nurture trumps nature, by raising a chimpanzee named Bonzo like his own son. The film is actually very funny, and a very surreal experience (for obvious reasons). It’s a very strange feeling to watch a movie and know EXACTLY what fiscal and domestic policy the actor favors, but that’s what you get when you watch a politician perform. Overall, if you are up for some monkey business in the vain of Dunston Checks In, this movie will leave you satisfied. 7/10.

Bedtime For Bonzo is available for free on YouTube.

P.S. I don’t know if I would have voted for Bonzo, but someone probably would.

 

All The President’s Men (1976)

It involves the entire U.S. Intelligence Community. FBI, CIA, Justice…it’s incredible. Cover-up had little to do with Watergate, it was mainly to protect the covert operations. It leads everywhere. Get out your notebook, there’s more. Your lives are in danger.

Watergate has gone down as the greatest political scandal in American history. The plainly named Committee to re-elect the President organized a break-in at the Watergate hotel, where the Democratic National Convention was held, and proceeded to steal documents and bug their phones. While we all know how it began and inevitably ended, less people know how we actually learned about it. The investigative reporting of Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein was absolutely essential to uncovering the truth, reaching back the layers of bureaucracy to lay bare the criminal machinations of the Nixon administration. With the assistance of an informant known only as Deep Throat, they managed to set in motion the forces that would lead to the resignation of Richard Nixon and bring about the administration of Gerald Ford.

Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman star as Woodward and Bernstein respectively, and deliver absolutely phenomenal performances. Interestingly the pseudonym Deep Throat was both historically accurate, and directly lifted from the title of the explicit 1972 flick of the same name, which may or may not be one of the most profitable movies of all time (Money laundering is very complicated). The film was nominated for Best Picture in one of the most stacked years ever, going up against the legendary Taxi Driver, the great satirical drama Network (one of my personal favorite films of all time), and the eventual winner Rocky. Regardless, this is one of the best political thrillers of all time, and deserves its reputation as a true masterpiece. 10/10.

All The President’s Men is available for purchase and rental on demand.

 

Vice (2018)

As the world becomes more and more confusing, we tend to focus on the things that are right there in front of us while ignoring the massive forces that actually change and shape our lives. And, with people working longer and longer hours for less and less, when we do have free time, the last thing we want is complicated analysis on our government, lobbying, international trade agreement, and tax bills. So it’s no surprise that, when a monotone, bureaucratic Vice President came to power, we hardly noticed as he achieved a position of authority that very few leaders in the history of America ever had.

Adam McKay has had a very intriguing career, starting as the director for Will Ferrell comedies like Anchorman and Step Brothers, to directing critically acclaimed dramas like my favorite film of 2015: The Big Short. He continues this trend with Vice, a biopic about former Vice President Dick Cheney (phenomenally played by Christian Bale). It covers his involvement in the Ford administration as Chief of Staff, his term as the Congressman at large for Wyoming, and as Vice President under George W. Bush.

All of the performances are incredible, with Steve Carell and Sam Rockwell standing out as Donald Rumsfeld and George W. Bush respectively. The dialogue is sharp and witty, while not pulling any punches in its criticism of his handling of the war on terror. While the film initially received mixed reviews, it went on to be nominated for Best Picture and won Best Makeup and Hairstyling at the 91st Academy Awards. I view the film as one of my favorites of that year, and highly recommend it. 10/10.

Vice is currently streaming on Netflix.

 

Lincoln (2012)

I can’t listen to this anymore. I can’t accomplish a goddamn thing of any human meaning or worth until we cure ourselves of slavery and end this pestilential war, and whether any of you or anyone else knows it, I know I need this! This amendment is that cure! We’re stepped out upon the world stage now, now, with the fate of human dignity in our hands. Blood’s been spilled to afford us this moment! Now! Now! Now! And you grouse so and heckle and dodge about like pettifogging Tammany Hall hucksters!

Daniel Day Lewis is one of the greatest actors of all time, utilizing method acting to its highest potential and fully engrossing himself in his roles. He teamed up with the director Steven Spielberg in this biopic about the final days of Abraham Lincoln, in his attempts to pass the reconstruction amendments guaranteeing rights to newly freed slaves. His performance is absolutely jaw dropping in its magnitude, completely dominating every second he is on frame, as if Abraham Lincoln rose from the grave himself for the very film.

A fun fact about the film is that the audio of the carriage that Lincoln rides to his assassination at Ford’s Theatre is actually from the real carriage. The filmmakers went to the Studebaker Museum in South Bend, Indiana and recorded audio of the carriage in the parking lot, and that was used in the final film. Even if this film would be fairly bare bones without Daniel Day Lewis, his performance makes this film a true masterpiece. 10/10.

Lincoln is currently streaming on Paramount+.

 

American Factory /『美国工厂』(2019 / 二零一九)

Everybody at every level will say that we really, really want to be safe. But safety doesn’t pay the bills.

I first saw this documentary in 2020, and it ruined my day. It is a depressing and scathing critique of a multinational Chinese corporation who buys an Ohio glass manufacturing plant and runs its workers into the ground. The only reason I am including this film in my Presidents Day list is because it was made by Higher Ground, the production company created by Barack Obama. It won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and is a deserving winner (although I have heard nothing but praise for the fellow nominee Honeyland / Медена Земја). It may be a hard film to watch, but I still felt like I learned something at the end of it. 6/10.

American Factory is currently streaming on Netflix.

 

JFK (1991) 

Why was Kennedy Killed? Who benefited? Who has the power to cover it up? Who?

I went into this movie with high hopes, but it lost me at times. I’ve never been one for theories about the Kennedy assassination, feeling that it’s a fairly cut and dry case, but I was still willing to give the film a shot. Kevin Costner stars as Jim Garrison, the district attorney for New Orleans, who believed that there was more to the death of JFK than the Warren commission was letting on, and brought the case back up in a criminal trial. Nevertheless, I felt that the film was a bit too conspiratorial for my taste, and dragged for the majority of its over three hour runtime until the excellent courtroom scene. It’s a very well shot and well edited movie, but I just couldn’t fully connect with it. 7/10.

JFK is currently available for purchase and rental on demand

 

Air Force One (1997) 

Get off my plane!

The closest allegory I have for this movie is a big plate of junk food. It may not have much substance, but it tastes good going down. Harrison Ford stars as the president of the United States, and while flying back from a visit to Moscow on Air Force One, a group of Russian terrorists take control of the plane and hold everyone onboard hostage. The president goes out on his own, gun blazing, and tries to retake Air Force One before it crashes. The early cgi is especially cheesy, but sometimes a big dumb action movie where you turn your brian off is just what you need. While it isn’t high class cinema by any means, I still had a really good time watching this movie. 8/10.

Air Force One is available for purchase and rental on demand.

 

John Adams (2008)

Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people.

I know I mostly write about movies, but I have to make an exception for this show. I’ve rewatched this every November for the past four years without fail. This show is my guilty pleasure, and I view it as almost perfect. Despite being our nation’s first Vice President and the second ever President of the United States, very few people discuss him in comparison to many of our other founding fathers. Adapted from the excellent biography of the same name from historian David McCullough, John Adams manages to cover more than 50 years of his life, from the Boston Massacre to his death in 1826. Paul Giamatti (who recently starred in The Holdovers) plays John Adams, and delivers an absolutely phenomenal performance, chewing the scenery. Tom Hooper, the director, had a very interesting career following this show. Going from sweeping the Emmys with a whopping 13 wins and winning Best Picture and Best Director for 2010’s The King’s Speech, to the comparatively less acclaimed Les Misérables, and the unmitigated disaster of 2019’s Cats. Regardless of how that information may seem deterring, I still recommend this show to everyone reading as a true masterpiece 10/10.

John Adams is currently streaming on Max.

 

Dave (1993) =

In a world where anybody can become president, anybody just did.

I don’t care if this situation would cause the greatest constitutional crisis in our nation’s history, Dave is just such a nice guy. The movie stars Kevin Kline as the titular Dave, a body double for the President who is forced to run the country after a stroke incapacitates the commander in chief. He is just so darn lovable and endearing, embodying what a true politician should be: a servant of the people. He also falls in love with the First Lady (played by Sigourney Weaver) and helps her get over the death of her husband. I absolutely loved Dave, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is in the mood for a feel good movie. 8/10.

Dave is available for purchase and rental on demand.

P.S. Yes, I would have voted for Dave.

 

Frost/Nixon (2008) (US/UK/FR)

I’m saying that when the President does it, that means it’s not illegal! …That’s what I believe. But I realize… no one else shares that view.

When I learned that there was a former best picture nominee about Richard Nixon, I simply had to see it. Directed by Ron Howard, this adaptation of the stage play of the same name covers the real series of interviews between British journalist David Frost (played by Micheal Sheen of Good Omens fame) and Richard Nixon (played by Frank Langella), in which Frost manages to cathartically wring out a confession of guilt from Nixon only three years after his resignation. Every scene with Nixon, particularly the actual interviews themselves, are positively riveting to behold. The use of disorienting camera movements and quick cuts really put us in the mental state of Frost, desperately trying to steer the conversation away from one of the most skilled communicators of his time. While the rest of the movie may drag in comparison, its highs manage to make the film a great time. 9/10.

Frost/Nixon is available for purchase and rental on demand.

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About the Contributor
Erik Larson, Staff Writer
Hello! My name is Erik Larson and I am currently a staff writer at The Ville who specializes in reviewing the latest and greatest in film. In the words of game director Hideo Kojima: “70% of my body is made of movies.” You can find more of my movie reviews here at my Letterboxd: https://boxd.it/4N1v5

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