The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

(In theaters, July 2004) While the idea of remaking the classic 1962 film was completely unnecessary, the actual finished film captures the paranoid essence of 2004 like few other have the guts to do: By replacing the anti-Communist material with an anti-corporate message, The Manchurian Candidate knows where to go for paranoid thrills. Throw in some science-fiction gadgets, the Gulf War, War-on-Terror rhetoric and the result is a film that may very well come to represent the unique feel of the Bush II administration. Meryl Streep, Liev Shreiber and -especially- Denzel Washington all deliver when comes to time to portray intense characters. Director Jonathan Demme is ideally suited to give life to this paranoid nightmare, what with his propensity for flat close-ups (even in conversations) and the off-beat way he films even simple scenes. Granted, the plot is often silly, unconvincing and packed with implausible events. But that goes with the territory of a nightmare. Even the eerie sound landscape of the film contributes to the uneasiness. Not an easy film to love nor enjoy, but nevertheless one that sticks in mind.

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