Thursday, 10 November 2011

The Ides of March - George Clooney (2011)

  1. The Ides of March is an ok political thriller directed by the actor George Clooney.
  2. It's a film about ambiguity: no one in it is quite what they seem.
  3. For instance, you might consider Clooney to be a likeable, bankable, but ultimately lightweight Hollywood star. But no, no, no, it turns out he's a director of worthy political thrillers starring fidgety actors' actors like Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
  4. George Clooney's face can sell anything, from Steven Soderbergh's Ocean franchise films, to proprietary brand coffee machines. This is a pretty weird state of affairs, and there's probably no-one who finds it weirder than George Clooney.
  5. Clooney enjoys a reputation for both intelligence and niceness. You can almost imagine him being embarrassed by the power of his face as an instrument of economic gain and this embarrassment registering as a certain wilful perversity in its deployment. It's like he's levying a kind of boredom tax on the use of his face. This, perhaps, explains why he often appears in complex, slow-moving films like Syriana, The American and Good Night, and Good Luck.
  6. You see, there was time, just after he left ER, when he might have been an action star: running around in a polo neck, shooting things, etc. Only then he started making films with Quentin Tarantino and the Coen Brothers. Maybe it was then that he realised clever films tend to privilege dialogue and cinematography over action, and perhaps this is why all his films feel like they've had the action systematically sucked out of them. The word that comes up a lot is restrained. The discovery of the body, the final argument between Gosling and Clooney are all studiously under done in this movie. Like a not-very-intelligent person who maintains a reputation for intelligence by not saying much.
  7. Ryan Gosling is great in this film. Sadly he doesn't stamp through anyone's face, but he does do some high quality flirting. The flirting is based largely on double bluff, which is one of the film's motifs. It's neat, like the way that when you break off a piece of broccoli it looks like another tinier piece of broccoli. Actually the scenes between Gosling and Wood are the best here, but then they're also the most reminiscent of Julia Roberts' scenes with George Clooney in Ocean's Eleven.
  8. Don't worry, Evan Rachel Wood was born in 1987, so she's not actually a teenager. But she is, technically speaking, 'the devil's candy'. The idea of a sexually confident 20 year old woman, raised on a diet of MTV and hardcore porn, is the modern replacement for the sexually submissive female lead of the past hundred years. But she's not a threat, because it turns out that the price of that sexual confidence is emotional instability, an abortion and then death (oops, spoiler, sorry). BTW, are we really expected to believe that she poons Gosling because she needs $7000? And that there is no-one else at all that she could ask? Come on.
  9. The screenplay is based on a play by Beau Willimon called Farragut North. The Ides of March is, as you well know, a quotation from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, a play that is synonymous with political duplicity and betrayal. But it also refers to a date, March 15th which is not slightly relevant to this film. It's almost as though they've chosen the most famous line in Julius Caesar, because quoting Shakespeare makes you look clever. Restrained? Or just strained?
  10. Ryan Gosling appeared in the Mickey Mouse Club for two years alongside Justin Timberlake. All the face-stamping and intern-fucking in the world is not going to turn you into Jack Nicholson after that. But at least he's trying.


  1. George part owns that coffee company. He's a smart fellow - he puts his face only on things he believes in or owns.


  2. You mean to say the title has no relevance at all?! Crikey. I'd slash the seats.

  3. on point #9: the title is relevant, it just takes some knowledge of the u.s. political system to connect the dots. super tuesday, which generally falls at the beginning of march, is when the majority of states choose which politician they want to run for president in their particular party. given the major themes of betrayal in the film, the final scene takes on an obvious interpretation that the title merely steamrolls home.