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Movie Review: The Manchurian Candidate

Alternate Title: Global Treachery, Paranoia and Cabals

Story: John Frankenheimer's terrific 1962 Manchurian Candidate from the novel by Richard Condon is hard to beat. I watched it two weeks ago on PBS and did not think a remake was necessary -- it was still a fine, though somewhat dated film. But, I am an avid film goer and am willing to see anything by director Jonathan Demme.

This version is essentially the same but this time the cabal is not the creeping crawling aggression of Communism but the greedy grab-a-lot global conglomerates who try to control American politics with their programmed candidate. There are those who will find this film very familiar if they compare it with our current political landscape but I preferred to just sit back and enjoy a fine cast and a well directed film. There are ample political documentaries out there today for those inclined to see them (and I do).

The ending of the film was disappointing for me. I am sure the producers cowed to some focus group that insisted on changing the ending to meet with today's Hallmark version of life and the movies. Not me - I was tsk tsking by the change.

Acting: Great performances all around. Meryl Streep nails the role as the political mother of the programmed candidate (Angela Lansbury played the original part). She also seemed to be enjoy playing the 'bad' mother for a change. Liev Shreiber was terrific as Raymond Shaw, the decorated war hero/candidate (Laurence Harvey in the original). Denzel Washington is back on my good list after this restrained fine performance as Bennett Marco (the Frank Sinatra role). The supporting cast all did a fine job as well.

Predilection: I like Jonathan Demme and I am a conspiracy theorist at heart.

Critters: A standard poodle and three lab monkeys (don't get me started on that topic).

Food: Oodles of noodles and some Chinese take-out.

Blatant Product Placement: Cup O' Noodles and No-Doz.

Soundtrack: A great soundtrack that included music by Wyclef Jean.

Opening Titles: A nice opening of type combined with flag waving graphics.

Theater Audience: A handful of other conspiracy theorists and politicos.

Oscar Worthy: No.

Nit Picking: NYC schools are closed on national election days. (I know, I know -- that is really, really nitpicking but it was an important scene in the film.)

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen and be sure to see the original as well. For some other fine films by Jonathan Demme try: The Agronomist, Beloved, Philadelphia, Cousin Bobby, The Silence of the Lambs, Married to the Mob, Something Wild, Stop Making Sense and Melvin and Howard.

Length: 2 hours and 10 minutes. If they had stuck with the original ending it would have been under the 2 hour Lobo rule.