Wednesday, July 17, 2024

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We are all living in the Situation Room right now

What to watch to ease electoral anxiety—and how theaters can help

If it seems like Americans are all living in the Situation Room right now, that is because this past Fourth of July weekend was downright surreal.

Sure, I watched fireworks from the harbor-view terrace at the Nantucket Dreamland. Still, the only thing on the body politic’s mind is Joe Biden’s implosion the week before on the presidential debate stage.

At the same time, movies have kept me relatively sane since the first COVID winter. I trust they will get me through another season of “Dark Brandon” too.

Of course, the Lord moves in mysterious ways, so Biden should think twice lest he tempt fate before repeating that only the Lord Almighty could drive him from the race.

On the other hand, Trump is desperately trying to make abortion great again, which means the ghost of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is alive and well. Not to mention everyone—I mean every single person I know—is praying for the Lord Almighty to call Trump home to eternal rest.

The winner of last month’s debate is clearly Jimmy Carter, who isn’t going anywhere. Maybe a one-term presidency is just what the doctor ordered.

How I do pray Carter lives long enough to be chosen for jury duty in Trump’s Georgia election-interference case. Not only this, I beseech the Lord God Almighty to give Carter the fortitude to serve as the jury foreman.

Which goes to show Woman on the Verge is neither ageist nor a “double hater.” She is nothing if not a movie lover.

This is why I propose a novel idea: a campaign season film series for anxious times. With any luck, this need not be anything more than a limited engagement.

The film festival in my mind between now and November 5 looks like this:

Courtesy of Roadside Attractions.

1. “The Monk and The Gun.” Inspired by real life events in Bhutan circa 2006, this brilliant movie should be the series kick-off for the 2024 election in America. Centered around both a king’s abdication and unexpected support for democracy, with a clever riff on gun culture, this movie feels almost sacramental. Remember, Bhutan’s governing philosophy includes emphasis on a Gross National Happiness (GNH) Index. “The Monk and The Gun” is certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with a 100 percent audience score. Here’s why:

2. “Invisible Nation” shows and tells the story of Taiwan’s first female president. Indeed, Tsai Ing-wen’s steadfast resolve to protect democracy in the face of China’s militaristic menace proves the stabilizing force that is her female leadership. The film also illustrates how deeply Taiwanese citizens embrace Ing-wen’s commitment to their shared struggle despite some of the ways the world minimizes the tiny island nation.

Now playing in selected theaters, “Invisible Nation” is also available for community screenings. I loved this movie, which ought to reassure Americans about the possibility of a strong female president.

Courtesy of Verdant.

3. Who can resist Reese Witherspoon in 1999’s “Election”? If you said “nobody,” you are right. This timeless classic is a crowdpleaser that will take your mind off the Biden-Trump choice and bring you right back to high school politics. Pair it with “Napoleon Dynamite” for a complete escape.

4. As long as democracy is on the 2024 ballot, so too should be “Bobi Wine: The People’s President.” I have not seen this 2022 documentary yet, surprising even to me. But this compelling story about Ugandan opposition leader and musical star Bobi Wine was nominated for best documentary feature at the 96th Academy Awards. It is also certified fresh by Rotten Tomatoes. Wine’s unique story should return to theaters for many reasons, including this trailer.

5. Finally, 2012’s “No” depicts the people of Chile literally saying “no” to eight more years of Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship. Directed by Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larrain, the peaceful transition of power at the end of “No” may well arouse conflicted feelings for viewers, as it should be.

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

There are so many more contenders, but these are the most relevant to the present moment.

Of course, I think “The Apprentice” will enter the race before Election Day, too.


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