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*** Official THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE Discussion Thread


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#1 of 32 Robert Crawford

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Posted July 29 2004 - 08:07 PM

This thread is now designated the Official Discussion Thread for "The Manchurian Candidate" please, post all comments, links to outside reviews, film and box office discussion items to this thread.

All HTF member film reviews of "The Manchurian Candidate" should be posted to the Official Review Thread.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.


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#2 of 32 Robert Crawford

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Posted July 29 2004 - 09:43 PM

I noticed this remake is getting very positive reviews which is good, since many of us here had serious doubts as to why a remake of this classic movie was being made.







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#3 of 32 Haggai

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Posted July 30 2004 - 01:14 PM

I'll assume up front that I won't have to spoilerize any discussion points that relate to the original version, so fair warning to those who've seen this one, but not the '62 version.

While the original is kind of evenly split in its focus between Raymond and Marco, this new version is definitely Marco-centric. I think Denzel is a great actor, so it's fine with me as far as it goes, just a different level of emphasis.

There isn't that much background on the brain-washing in this version. A few flashbacks here and there, mostly brief and impressionistic. Nothing that compares to the extended flower-discussion/brain-washing sequence in the original, which is some of the most insanely intense material I've ever seen in any movie. With no possible way of topping that, Demme and company focus more on Marco's struggles with what's happening to him. I prefer the original on this point. Some reviews I've seen have said that the conspiracy in this new version is more threatening because it's not as far-fetched as the original. I agree on that narrow point, but in purely cinematic terms, the awesome power of the brain-washing sequence in the original makes the resulting conspiracy in that version a lot more ominous to me.

There's almost nothing between Raymond and Josie in this version, just a perfunctory scene where they talk about their previous fling. The establishment of the love between them in the original, and the focus on his mother's resulting jealousy and possessiveness, make his killings of Josie and her father a shockingly tragic and gut-wrenching experience in that version (plus the all-time memorable bit of business of the shooting of Senator Jordan through the milk carton). There's not nearly as much behind it in this one.

But, one new direction that I liked a lot: a much more fleshed out role for "Rosie," Janet Leigh's character in the original. In that version, she was very enigmatic and hard to read, and while a lot of people conclude that she must be part of a wider Commie plot, sent as the "operator" to control Marco, I think there just isn't enough on-screen to work with to have that as a successful explanation. Maybe that was the intention of Frankenheimer and company, but it's one of the few things in their version that falls short for me. But now, with a more explicit and developed role (including a twist or two along the way), and a very engaging performance by Kimberly Elise, the character becomes quite memorable this time around.

Great moment in the new version: when he meets Rosie on the train, Marco hallucinates a vision of a fresh bullet-hole in her forehead, with blood slowly trickling down from it. Very powerful image, maybe the one moment where I think they were able to match the raw power of the hydrangea sequence of the original.

They weren't quite able to come up with anything memorable for how the brain-washees can be triggered by their operators. It's just the sequence of their names being repeated, ending with their full name. I can see why they wouldn't just want to do solitaire again, but that's such a great part of the original that I kind of wish they would have come up with something else this time. Of course, that could have run the risk of doing something stupid ("pass the time by playing...Minesweeper? Who the hell thought of this crap?!"), but there's probably something more modern that would have been cool.

#4 of 32 Patrick Sun

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Posted July 30 2004 - 02:47 PM

I thought it was a little too long, as in overstaying its welcome. By the time the end rolls around, I kept thinking "Come on, get on with it, Marco!" because by the time we get to the end, I knew how it was going to end, and it ended by-the-numbers in a "aren't we clever" wink but it wasn't that interesting when we finally to get there. I guess I'm saying the ride wasn't worth the payoff.

Oh, and Demme gives us just a taste of that disturbing Oedipal element and leaves most of the rest to our sordid imagination. Posted Image

I could have remembered incorrectly, but I don't think Meryl Streep has seen Angela Lansbury's take on her character (as in hadn't seen the original film), so any interpretation of the role is solely Meryl's.
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#5 of 32 Robert Crawford

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Posted July 30 2004 - 03:03 PM

I guess I'm saying the ride wasn't worth the payoff.

Yet, you give the film a "B-" in your posted review, does that mean if a film doesn't get at least a solid "B" from you, it's not worth seeing as far as you're concern?
I could have remembered incorrectly, but I don't think Meryl Streep has seen Angela Lansbury's take on her character (as in hadn't seen the original film), so any interpretation of the role is solely Meryl's.

Is this an assumption on your part and if so, why?






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#6 of 32 Haggai

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Posted July 30 2004 - 03:19 PM

An IMDB trivia entry for this remake says that Streep didn't watch the original until after they had finished shooting. I don't know where that came from, but apparently Patrick isn't the only one who's heard it.

#7 of 32 Chris

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Posted July 30 2004 - 03:44 PM

Hmm. I'd have to give it a C+, maybe a B-. This just doesn't have the screen intensity that I felt the original does. It seems to lack that immediacy, urgency on the part of the actors.

Denzel is good in his role, and there are some great moments, but sometimes, he comes across as either over the top or too sedate. The rumbling of that has me wishing for a slightly different direction.

The end went on too long. It was good, but sometimes, when you do a film this way, you're almost better just saying: "Hey, you paid your money, we the actors want to introduce you to a classic.. sit here with us and watch the original." Posted Image
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#8 of 32 Quentin

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Posted July 30 2004 - 04:13 PM

I thought it was great...I'd give it an A-. The end does overstay its welcome a bit. Too bad.

But, other than that, a solid thriller with tons of style and talent throughout.

#9 of 32 Alex Spindler

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Posted July 31 2004 - 03:28 AM

I enjoyed it myself. I missed seeing something as memorable as the card motif, but I can deal with the lack of a brainwashing tutorial as seen in the original because audiences today are quite familiar with the concept.

I loved Meryl Steep chewing up the scenery while still being reigned into the role. Definitely one of the most fun moments of the film.

It was a shame to see the advertising campaign for the film because it really gave far, far too much away. It would not have been hard for a fresh audience to come in knowing the whole plot, including his mother's involvement. A shame.

#10 of 32 Sam Favate

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Posted July 31 2004 - 03:42 AM

I enjoyed it and thought it was updated nicely to make it relevant to our times, but I think the original was a better film - more provacative, more sinister, more startling.

I like what they did with Rosie's character. Her place as "the girl" in the original was always a little unsatisfying, and I was glad to see they made her more relevant to the story.

Things I wanted to see: More on the conspiracy. Spell out what the company was hoping to gain and how they were planning to go about it. Are we supposed to believe they'd hatch a plan in 1991 and wait til 2004 to implement it? The original took place just two years after the kidnapping and brainwashing -- more plausible, if you ask me.

I could be wrong here, but the plan to assassinate the president on election night to have the VP designate become president seemed flawed. Is the VP-designate the next in line for the presidency BEFORE the President-designate is sworn in? I could be mistaken about the legality, but it seems like there would be other legalities to consider.

Having seen the original recently, much of the suspense was lost. In the new film, when Raymond kills Jordan and then his daughter, there's no gasp! like I experienced the first time. Also, the brainwashing sequence in the first film is much creepier and sinister.

Still, high marks all around for Denzel, Meryl, Liev and the other cast members. The new film is a good and smart a summer movie as we have seen in many summers.

#11 of 32 Edwin Pereyra

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Posted July 31 2004 - 05:34 AM

Quote:
I could be wrong here, but the plan to assassinate the president on election night to have the VP designate become president seemed flawed. Is the VP-designate the next in line for the presidency BEFORE the President-designate is sworn in?

If the president-elect should die or be incapacitated after election day, but before the electoral college meets, the electors to the college can vote for whomever they wish. (The college meets in December.) The electors are not bound to the VP-elect or any party affiliation.

If the P-elect should die after the electoral college certifies their votes, the VP-elect would be sworn in as president.

As presented in the film, the VP-elect will not automatically assume the President's spot in January. But we all know that Raymond's mom (Meryl Streep) will do her best to make sure that her son gets confirmed as no one dares to try and cross her path. Posted Image

As such, the premise holds.

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#12 of 32 Kevin M

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Posted July 31 2004 - 05:39 AM

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An IMDB trivia entry for this remake says that Streep didn't watch the original until after they had finished shooting.

I'm sorry if the cynic in me is showing but whenever actors say this about a roll they undertook in a remake of a classic film I always find it hard to believe. It may very well be true, as not everyone is a film nut like us, but the cynic in me just yells out "sure, sure, or are you just saying that so people won't compare the two performances as quickly?".

...sorry, I just had to get that out.Posted Image
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#13 of 32 Edwin Pereyra

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Posted July 31 2004 - 05:47 AM

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I'm sorry if the cynic in me is showing but whenever actors say this about a roll they undertook in a remake of a classic film I always find it hard to believe.

Well, this is different but while Emmy Rossum read and auditioned for the part of Christine in the upcoming film version of The Phantom of the Opera, Andrew Lloyd Webber asked her if she has seen any version of the stage play. She said, no.

Webber liked that idea and hired her for the part as she would bring her own interpretation to the role.

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#14 of 32 Haggai

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Posted July 31 2004 - 11:40 AM

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If the president-elect should die or be incapacitated after election day, but before the electoral college meets, the electors to the college can vote for whomever they wish. (The college meets in December.) The electors are not bound to the VP-elect or any party affiliation.


Wow, I definitely didn't know that. However, if this ever happened, I have no doubt that both major political parties would agree that the winning ticket's electors should shift to the VP-elect.

#15 of 32 Kevin Grey

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Posted July 31 2004 - 02:36 PM

Is this an assumption on your part and if so, why?


This was mentioned in Entertainment Weekly several weeks ago.

I enjoyed the film very much. Great work from all of the actors. Its marevelous how different Denzel's character is in this from Man on Fire just a few months ago.

Very impressed with the cinematography, particularly after suffering through the shaky cam of Bourne Supremacy last night.

#16 of 32 Richard_D_Ramirez

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Posted July 31 2004 - 03:58 PM

I don't follow many of Jonathan Demme's work, but I was watching The Truth about Charlie last night on cable, and after watching The Manchurian Candidate today, I noticed that Demme likes to frame an actor dead center on the screen with the actor looking straight into camera, as if actor were "talking" to the audience. Come to think of it, he also does this on The Silence of the Lambs. Is this Demme's "signature" of sorts?

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#17 of 32 TonyD

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Posted August 01 2004 - 11:21 AM

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I could have remembered incorrectly, but I don't think Meryl Streep has seen Angela Lansbury's take on her character (as in hadn't seen the original film), so any interpretation of the role is solely Meryl's

this is exactly what washington said for himnself on letterman last week.

no reason why i shouldnt believe him.
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#18 of 32 Kristian

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Posted August 01 2004 - 11:47 AM

This is the second Jonathan Demme dissapointment in a row for me. While I didn't hate it like I did The Truth About Charlie, it left me very cold.

Quote:
I don't follow many of Jonathan Demme's work, but I was watching The Truth about Charlie last night on cable, and after watching The Manchurian Candidate today, I noticed that Demme likes to frame an actor dead center on the screen with the actor looking straight into camera, as if actor were "talking" to the audience. Come to think of it, he also does this on The Silence of the Lambs. Is this Demme's "signature" of sorts?

It appears so. I found it to be mostly distracting here. Especially in the scene early in the movie with Jeffrey Wright talking to Denzel at the school.

Was anyone else bothered by the cheesiness of the "CNW" TV coverage in the film? It might seem like nitpicking, but the presence of that unprofessional-looking fake news channel in a supposedly serious political thriller took me out of the movie. The Mount Rushmore graphic at the celebration party was also quite over-the-top silly.
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#19 of 32 Tim Glover

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Posted August 01 2004 - 03:23 PM

Was anyone else bothered by the cheesiness of the "CNW" TV coverage in the film? It might seem like nitpicking, but the presence of that unprofessional-looking fake news channel in a supposedly serious political thriller took me out of the movie. The Mount Rushmore graphic at the celebration party was also quite over-the-top silly


Good call Kristian. I enjoyed the film and was buying into it but did think about the CNW stuff so ultimately is pulled me out of the film at times as did Al Franken? Not sure if that's his name. He's seen interviewing Meryl Streep once in the movie.

A suspenseful movie that really gets intense. Washington really is one of our better actors. Really good performance here.

#20 of 32 Kristian

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Posted August 01 2004 - 03:34 PM

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I enjoyed the film and was buying into it but did think about the CNW stuff so ultimately is pulled me out of the film at times as did Al Franken? Not sure if that's his name.

Yep, that was Al Franken. I recognized his voice when Denzel first got into his apartment, and because of the topicality of what he was saying, I thought it was actually real audio taken from his radio show. But then you see him on the TV as a CNW reporter and it just felt so surreal.
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