a_steep_hill had brought my attention to this article about the dangers of SUVs; I hate them because the drivers tend to be overly aggressive and each one belches out a shitload of carbon monoxide, but it turns out that the reasons most people hide behind as excuses for why they need an SUV are patently untrue. SUVs are extremely dangerous, not only to the people in the cars around an SUV, but to the drivers themselves and their families for a myriad of reasons.
I watched The Contender last night, a decent enough film but one which sidesteps many of the social realities of politics to present a much more idealized version. That is to say, the characters played by Joan Allen and Christian Slater are people who would clearly be sidelined in their party for the exact reason why they make noble characters. On the other hand, Jeff Bridges is one of the most convincing screen Presidents in a while. Every word, every gesture, every aspect of his performance is carefully measured, and the more personable and friendly he appears, the more aggressive his tactics have become. This is somebody who knows how to play a dirty political game, and if he does it for decent causes it nevertheless begs the question of whether the ends are, in fact, justifying the means. One of my favorite of his lines is in denying William Peterson then appointment with the friendly-sounding but biting, "You're the future of the Democratic Party, and you always will be."
One area where I feel that the film falters is in presenting an answer to the allegations of Allen's character; she is selected by Bridges to succeed the late Vice-President and there are questions about her sexual history that Allen rightly feels would not be brought up were she not a woman. While I believe that her stance on this issue is the morally correct one, I think that were this case to be an actual situation in politics that there is nobody ambitious enough to be in the running for Vice-President who would behave as she does... and the ultimate revelation itself makes one wonder if writer/director Rob Lurie has the courage of his characters.
This is also clearly a film produced under a Democratic administration, a fact which becomes clearer and clearer over time. The naivete on display here couldn't exist in a film of substance today, a sad comment on the current state of affairs in Washington.