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The Ides of March(2011)
Political drama directed by George Clooney and starring Ryan Gosling as an idealistic young press secretary who gets caught up in the cynicism of a modern day election campaign. Based on a play by Beau Willimon, the film finds Stephen Myers (Gosling) working for progressive candidate Governor Mike Morris (Clooney) as he hopes to become the presidential nominee for the Democratic Party. Stephen is the right-hand man of experienced press secretary Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and coveted by the director of the rival Democratic campaign, Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti). After an ill-advised secret meeting with Tom - not to mention an equally ill-advised secret romance with young staffer Molly Stearns (Evan Rachel Wood) - the tables turn and Stephen finds himself facing life on the political scrapheap...
For more about The Ides of March and the The Ides of March Blu-ray release, see the The Ides of March Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 10, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei, Jeffrey Wright
Director: George Clooney
» See full cast & crew
The Ides of March Blu-ray Review
The theater behind political theater.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 10, 2012
What I believe in is called the Constitution of the United States of America.
Director George Clooney plays a little game of political double speak even in the title of his new Drama, The Ideas of March. Not only does the title reflect the film's fictional timeframe which sets it against the backdrop of the the traditional March Ohio Presidential Primary, but it's also a reference to the Shakespearean "ides of March" quotation centered around the assassination of Julius Caesar, the Roman leader stabbed in the back by his trusted advisor, Brutus. Certainly, such is a metaphor for, rather than a literal representation of, this modern-day tale of figurative -- but also very real -- political backstabbing and gamesmanship. At its essence, however, The Ides of March is the story of an unwanted awakening, of a greater realization of the truths of political life, shrewd maneuvering, and conflict at the highest levels of political power. It's the tale of idealism harshly scrubbed away and of rose-colored glasses trampled upon when a young, principled, and naive up-and-coming behind-the-scenes political advisor becomes a participant in a game he'd rather not play, an unwilling pawn in a larger scheme where his only chance for survival is not to hold firmly to his principles and practices that elevated him to his position, but to stoop to the lower levels where the higher-ups play their dastardly game of manipulation on the sly but with very real, very harsh, and perhaps, even, deadly consequences.
It's mere hours before a critical Ohio Democratic Presidential Primary debate between Pennsylvania Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney) and Arkansas Senator Ted Pullman (Michael Mantell). Morris' idealistic and very young Deputy Campaign Manager Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) is crossing all the pre-debate Ts and dotting all the pre-debate Is. He's a hard worker, very sharp, and unflinchingly dedicated to his candidate and the ideals Morris espouses both on the campaign trail and in his governorship. Indeed, he's a star on the rise within the inner circles of the Democratic Party. In fact, he's such a hot property that he's wooed by the opposition. He receives a call from Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti), Pullman's Chief Campaign Manager with a proposal to jump ship and come work for the Senator. Meyers rejects the offer and reports back to his own Chief Campaign Manager, Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman), with word of the meeting and inside information: the Pullman camp is aggressively pursuing the endorsement of influential North Carolina Senator Franklin Thompson (Jeffrey Wright) and have offered him the position of Secretary of State in exchange, a move the Morris camp refuses to make, even as it, too, woos Thompson. Meanwhile, Meyers beds a young campaign intern named Molly (Evan Rachel Wood) who harbors a dark secret that could spell the end of the Morris campaign. Can Meyers hang onto his idealism and principles as he finds himself sinking deeper into the political muck with each passing moment, every new revelation, and all of the many turns of events?
The superficial appeal of The Ides of March comes with its glimpse into the nitty-gritty aspects of the political process, those things which truly shape a campaign, and not simply the sound bytes, the televised debates, the advertisements, or the media frenzy surrounding every step a candidate takes and each syllable a candidate utters. Never does politics seem about the sum total of a candidate and the values he or she purportedly hold dear but rather who looks good, who the media loves, and who can play the dirtiest game. Even on the outside, as it's seen through the public eye, politics often devolves to such deviousness externally, and The Ides of March demonstrates that truism on the flip side, away from the cameras, the pundits, and most certainly away from the voters. The conflict in The Ides of March is the collision of this dark political landscape with an idealistic young campaign manager and his crash course in the true ways of politics where a genuine belief in a candidate matters little -- or doesn't matter at all -- in the game that's centered around winning, and not championing a cause or core beliefs. Certainly, it's rather unbelievable that Meyers could get so far by knowing so little of how the game is truly played, but it definitely makes for fine theater as his idealism melts away not for the allure of the big stage, but by the bright lights and seasoned players that necessarily melt it away and force him into becoming exactly the kind of person he never wanted to be.
George Clooney also infuses The Ides of March with what appears to be a great deal of authenticity; audiences will have to take much of what they're fed insofar as the behind-the-scenes elements go at face value, but the film does superficially remain true to the daily ins-and-outs of political life, referencing modern day figures and movements and inserting real-life talking heads and media figures into the picture for an added boost in realism. Even better, George Clooney -- under his acting cap -- offers up a wonderfully real-feeling performance. He nails the political cadence of a seasoned candidate and lifelong politician running for the highest of offices, both in the way he carries himself in front of the media or on stage for a debate, as well as in the behind-the-scenes dealings with his hardball advisers and insiders who only care about winning and not about conscience. Clooney's character, in a way, reflects Gosling's, but to a lesser degree. His Governor Morris certainly holds dear a core set of values and holds firm to principles, perhaps not as tightly as Meyers, but certainly to an admirable point, particularly in this day and age. And what helps make The Ides of March so effective is that his politics and those values matter very little in a superficial sense; the movie doesn't make itself about Morris' political positions (though it certainly takes a few choice opportunities to put them out there) but instead the ultimate sacrifice of principles, for better or for worse. That the movie (mostly) leaves behind partisanship and politics is a strength; certainly those of one political persuasion won't like some of the sound bytes coming out of the film, but for the most part, this is a movie about "the politics of politics" without actually being about "politics" as politics is portrayed on the nightly news.
Additionally, The Ides of March sports a strong supporting cast of characters and wonderful performances from the actors who play them, which certainly elevates the movie another notch or two. The gamesmanship and political dealings of both the Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman Duffy and Zara characters is first rate; they're the true muscle and brains behind the campaign, and the film makes that evident. Even their candidates -- including Morris -- are but figureheads, and not the true power behind the figurative throne. Both actors are superb at being sly and slimy, men of intellectual muscle with the wherewithal to play the political game at its highest level but men who have sacrificed their integrity and principles for the rush of the moment and the thrill of the win. They're the perfect foil to Ryan Gosling's Stephen Meyers, who is forced to become both Zara and Duffy, to forego his principles and values if he wishes to stay in the game and certainly if he wishes to beat them at their own style of play. Jeffrey Wright is strong, but understandably underused, as the ultimate pawn within the film; he, like Clooney, has the political beat down perfectly, even if his opportunity to show it in the form of screen time is drastically smaller. Technically, The Ides of March is a great success, too. Steady direction, great photography, and wonderful production values and set decorations enhance the film's sense of authenticity, and Clooney's eye for visually reinforcing the film's dark themes with low light and shadow is critical in underscoring both the film's most critical moments and its underlying themes alike.
The Ides of March Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Ides of March has received a faithful and consistently stunning 1080p Blu-ray transfer from Sony. The image is spectacular, evident from the opening shot and straight on through to the end. In typical Sony fashion, it boasts amazing clarity and critical grain retention, both of which ensure precise, complex details and that much-sought-after natural film-like texture. Indeed, fine detail is terrific, and viewers will be hard-pressed to find another transfer that betters this one in terms of its ability to handle clothes and natural facial textures with such ease. Dress shirts, silk ties, and highly detailed facial features appear in every scene. Every background element is sharp and perfectly textured. Colors are equally bold and natural. The palette is even and very vibrant, but never gaudy or unnaturally shaded, appearing so only under the dim lights of a bar and other naturally warm and low light locales. Additionally, flesh tones are true and black levels are perfect. The image never shows any signs of banding, blocking, or edge enhancement. They don't get any prettier or more film-like than this.
The Ides of March Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Ides of March features a rich and satisfying DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. This is, obviously, a talk-heavy Drama, so there are no laser blasts or explosions to really push the envelope or sonically delight audiences. This track's worth may instead be found in its balance and natural rhythm. Dialogue is clear and focused up the middle, with no ancillary issues impeding its delivery or harming its clarity. Minor sound effects are handled very well; the opening shot that contains microphone feedback and vocal reverberations through the debate hall sound so natural that the audience members will feel like they're sitting in a seat in the auditorium and not on the couch at home. Applause during the debate is strong but mostly focused across the front. Minor atmospherics are crisp and well defined, even if they're limited to such trivial but mood-critical elements like shuffling papers, ringing phones, and chatter in the campaign headquarters offices. Music is clear and nicely presented as well. This isn't a track that will leave a lasting impression due completely to its limited nature, but its clarity and baseline effectiveness are nearly second-to-none.
The Ides of March Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Ides of March contains a nice assortment of extras, headlined by a steady audio commentary track which is supplemented by a few featurettes.
The Ides of March Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Ides of March is a superb movie about the politics of politics in the tradition of Primary Colors, that a movie, too, about the unseen, inside world behind the sound bytes, news clips, and public fronts and appearances. But there's a deeper story, a true human drama, behind The Ides of March, a tale of lost innocence in a world with no room for such a trivial thing and equally naive beliefs. The movie's narrative is strong but not gripping, which is its real weak spot, but it's still a steady, strongly-made picture that will appeal to political junkies from both sides of the isle as well as more general audiences in search of a tough-minded Human Drama. Sony's Blu-ray release of The Ides of March features exceptional video and audio qualities to go along with a nice selection of supplements. Highly recommended.
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The Ides of March Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Ides of March Blu-ray - November 28, 2011
Next year, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release The Ides of March on Blu-ray. Directed by Academy Award-winner George Clooney (Syriana), the film focuses on an idealistic campaign staffer (Ryan Gosling, Drive) who learns some upsetting news about the ...
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