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The Ides of March - Blu-ray Movie Review

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The Ides of March - Movie Review

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5 stars

There’s an early scene in The Ides of March in which Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling), the press spokesman for a Democratic presidential candidate confidently exclaims, “nothing bad happens when you’re doing the right thing.” His virtuous statement not only highlights the wet-behind-the-ears naiveté of an idealistic young strategist, but it also sets up the dark, soulless path both he and the film will take.

Based on the play Farragut North by Beau Willimon, the film is set in the store-front offices and hotel suites that stand in as the war room of presidential candidate Mike Morris (George Clooney), a governor running on a campaign of change and hope. Sound familiar? His young press secretary has drunk the Morris kool-aid and truly believes his boss can change the country for the better. But, as the campaign unfolds, so does a treacherous web of deceit, manipulation, and scandal. In the process we see that Meyers’ idealistic world-views of “right” and “bad” have no definition in the corrosive arena of American politics.

Meyers gets his first taste of politico hardball when he’s invited to meet secretly with rival campaign manager Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti), who asks Meyers to flip and join his campaign - the campaign that is set to win the key state of Ohio, gain the delegates of a key senator and eventually sweep into the white house. Also tempting Meyers is Molly (Evan Rachel Wood), a sexy young blonde intern whose indiscretions set in motion a dramatic and devastating series of events. Meyers is eventually left staring at a crumbling career jeopardized by shaky loyalties, inappropriate relationships, and a political scandal on the verge of erupting into a full-blown crisis.

Can he find a way to do what is right – what is good - or will he let the political system suck him in, chew his soul to pieces, then spit him out the other side?

With The Ides of March, Clooney - who directs, co-writes, and stars in the film - stamps his name in the cement alongside Hollywood’s all-time greatest actor/directors.  Despite his character’s importance in the film, Clooney shares very little screen time with his co-stars. In fact, Gov. Morris is completely absent from the play. But Clooney’s assemblage of a top-notch cast with no fewer than three Academy Awards and six Golden Globes amongst them is where he makes his mark with Ides. Well, that and his Michael Mann-esque directorial skills.

Gosling steps expertly from his outsider turn in Drive. The Ides of March is clearly his picture and he never disappoints in a role where his character makes several internal compromises that create a caustic environment in which his soul cannot exist. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Giamatti stand in perfectly as the grizzled, pot-bellied veteran campaign managers, chess masters really, each one step ahead of the other, and neither above bending the rules to level the playing field. As the punchy New York Times newspaper reporter is Marisa Tomei and Wood shines in her confident seductress skin.

Many will welcome the absence of Clooney’s well-documented political stance in The Ides of March. Then again, the film is not really a political movie with a distinct political message. You don’t have to know much about politics to become invested in the story. Nor does the film blame one political party over the other. But it does offer a scathing look at the behind-the-scenes wheelings-and-dealings, between members on both sides of the aisle, we never really get to see. And the script is remarkably relevant with regards to many trends emerging in contemporary politics even though it was finished more than three years ago.  Political discussions these days are becoming more and more derisive, and less about common interest and more about self-interest. Clooney and co-writer Grant Heslov capture this trend with chilling accuracy.

It must be fun working under Clooney, as he’s clearly an actor’s director. With such an intense and intricate story, it would have been easy for him to lose control of all the film’s many moving parts. But he clearly knows where to put the camera and how to step back and let talented actors seize their moments. As a result, the story within The Ides of March emerges as a perfectly baked examination of the seamier side of politics and one of the year’s most intensely chilling films.

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The Ides of March - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: R for pervasive language.
Director: George Clooney
Writer
: George Clooney; Grant Heslov
Cast: Ryan Gosling; George Clooney; Paul Giamatti; Marisa Tomei; Evan Rachel Wood; Philip Seymour Hoffman
Genre: Drama | Thriller
Memorable Movie Quote:
"Nothing bad happens when you’re doing the right thing."
Tagline:
The Ides of March.
Distributor:
Columbia Pictures
Official Site:

Release Date: October 7, 2011
Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available

Plot Synopsis: Based on the play by Beau Willimon, The Ides of March follows an idealistic staffer for a newbie presidential candidate gets a crash course on dirty politics during his stint on the campaign trail..

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The Ides of March - Blu-ray Movie Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
5 Stars

5 Stars



Blu-ray Experience
5 Stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - January 17, 2012
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English, English SDH, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); UV digital copy; BD-Live
Playback: Region A

With several moments of patriotic shadows and poetic anthems, there are very few shots in The Ides of March that aren’t suitable for immediate framing and Sony knows it.  Every bit of Phedon Papamichael's expressive cinematography is warmly presented in a sharp-looking 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 video encode.  The transfer is ripe with saturation and the style plays nicely against the series of fleshy close-ups and whispered exchanges in dark hallways.  Textures are strong and even throughout; never obnoxious or too showy in a way that seems unnatural.  Skin tones are warm and complex and black levels are equally leveled.  Since this is a picture that is heavy on the ear, dialogue must be clean and clear and, rest assured, the disc delivers clarity and immersion.  The English 5.1 DTS-HD audio track keeps things clean with a heavy use of the front and center channels, but doesn’t quite use the surround channels like it should.  The 5-channel immersive experience happens strictly during campaign rallies.  Disappointing, yes, but entirely serviceable for the needs of the movie as dialogue is never muddied by the extra audible waters.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Guided by Clooney and co-writer/producer Grant Heslov, the real reason to pick up a copy of The Ides of March is located here.  Maybe it’s because commentary tracks are getting scarce, but this is one of the most engaging commentary banter that I’ve heard recently.  It might not be the most informative, but – hey – at least we get a commentary track.  Clooney and Heslov are obviously relaxed and laidback throughout it, but their exchange is topical, interesting, and funny as they cover the potboiler moments of the film, discuss the film’s methodology, and rib each other with clever remarks.  As a bonus, Clooney points out friends and family members who are in the film and gives props to The Facts of Life.

Special Features:

There are a total of four featurettes (two of which are exclusive to the blu-ray) and some previews for three upcoming releases from Sony.  A closer look at the featurettes reveals their true nature: show Clooney some love.  Believe: George Clooney is essentially a tip of the hat from the film’s actors to their director and vice-versa.  In The Origin of The Ides of March there is a focus on how the film was brought to Clooney and Heslov's attention (also covered in the commentary) and what they did to bring the film to life.  The third featurette, On the Campaign, focuses on the cast of the film and what each member brought to the film. Yet, the most interesting one is What Does a Political Consultant Do? as it features an extended interview with Stuart Stevens, the political consultant Clooney met while working with Steven Soderbergh on the HBO series K-Street.

With sneak peak trailers for the blu-ray releases of 'Drive,' 'Moneyball,' and 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’, The Ides of March is a political thriller not to be missed.

  • Developing the Campaign: The Origin of ‘The Ides of March’ (7 min)
  • Believe: George Clooney (6 min)
  • On the Campaign: The Cast of ‘The Ides of March’ (6 min)
  • What Does a Political Consultant Do? (8 min)
  • BD-Live (only gets you a trailer for The Ides of March)
  • UV Copy

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