Moving Pictures
Nov 03, 2008, 06:00AM

The battle over the definition of reality

If Bush II-era films—from "op-ed liberal documentaries" to superhero franchises—"are marked by their staggering lack of coherence, they are at least true to their muse."

The American presidency in filmic context:

Certain past presidents have cast distinctive shadows over the movies made during their tenure. Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal is imprinted in every careworn Okie face in John Ford's The Grapes of Wrath and Harry Truman's push for atomic glory casts fallout over dozens of science-fiction movies (The Day the Earth Stood Still, Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, The Thing from Another World). There's much of John Kennedy's testicular adventurism in the early 007 boom, and Richard Nixon's backroom machinations generated a bumper crop of left- and right-leaning paranoid thrillers (The Parallax View, Three Days of the Condor, The Conversation, Dirty Harry). The fantasy boom (Back to the Future, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Field of Dreams) of the '80s is also unthinkable without the don't-worry-be-happy paternalism of Ronald Reagan.


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