Tag Archives: The American President movie

Movies matter

Do movies change lives?

Mark Cousins of The Telegraph spent six years traveling the world compiling a history of film.  That process convinced him that movies do indeed make a difference.  (They did in his life.  Six years — geez.)

Here’s his list of the Top 10 movies that changed the world.

Me?  I don’t need to travel the globe to know movies make an impact.  I can’t imagine life without them, so my list is a bit more personal.  (Okay, it’s completely personal.)

Top 10 Movies that Changed My World

The Godfather (1972): Due to my youth, I didn’t see the movie when it was released.  But thanks to an overly enthusiastic film professor in college, I spent six weeks of my life watching it. And analyzing it.  As a result, I hate it and all things mafia.

The Way We Were (1973): This was my introduction to Robert Redford and movie romance.  I have been faithful to both ever since.  I’ve watched that film literally hundreds of times.  The opening strains of its Oscar-winning song start the waterworks every time.

Foul Play (1978): This Chevy Chase-Goldie Hawn comedy was Chevy’s first movie post-SNL and introduced Dudley Moore to American audiences.  It was also the first time I remember laughing with my mother in a movie theatre.  Cherished memory.

Airplane! (1980): I was sick when I left the theatre — facial muscles and ribs sore from laughing so incredibly hard.  I think I knew even then that I was witnessing the birth of a whole new genre of comedy.  “Ain’t that a pisser.”

Ordinary People (1980): I went to see this film because Robert Redford directed it — I told you I was faithful — and was stunned by the subject matter, the performances, the mood, the music.  Who knew Mary Tyler Moore could be so cold?  I have watched it again and again.

Amadeus (1984): My love affair with costume drama began with this amazing film.  I knew very little about Mozart before I saw it; it inspired me to learn more.  If it’s on television, my day is decided (and it takes about a day to watch — it’s that long).  Mesmerizing.

Broadcast News (1987): I was working at a television station and dating a news reporter when this movie was released, so it hit very close to home. Loved hearing a Southern accent on a leading lady, too. (Holly Hunter should have won the Oscar, btw.)

When Harry Met Sally (1989): I think this movie appears on most women’s Top 10 lists.  We all have those friendships with men that either have or could or should spark something ‘more.’  This was the fantasy with the perfect actors cast to make it come true.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994): A movie ‘bromance’ with Morgan Freeman in the mix to make it heartfelt and meaningful.  Everything about this movie is perfect — the setting, the script, the casting.  Another marathon, it takes up a whole day when it comes on TV, but it’s worth it.

The American President (1995): It was Aaron Sorkin’s warmup to The West Wing, and what a wonderful one it was.  Michael Douglas and Annette Bening make every word ring true, and Martin Sheen learned a few tricks — as Chief of Staff — that came in handy for his future role as President Jed Bartlet (also a Sorkin production).

In the more than 15 years since, lots of other great movies have had an impact on my life.  But these 10 laid the foundation for the films, filmmakers and stars to come.

I’ll be thinking of them today as I head to — where else? — the theatre.

An American Writer

A little over a decade ago, NBC’s fall television line-up included a new drama called “The West Wing.”

I can’t remember now what initially drew me to the series.  Was it Rob Lowe in the cast?  Washington D.C. as the setting?  All the characters talking about the then mysterious “POTUS”?  Or did the promos say ‘brought to you by the creator of The American President?’

Any of those would have worked on me.

But after witnessing the series premiere’s first scene alone — that now famous ‘walk and talk’ through the corridors of the White House — I was hooked.  My friends will tell you, I became a huge unpaid front man for the show, constantly trying to get more people on board to watch.

So, no one was prouder than me when “The West Wing” won a record 9 Emmy awards in its first year, including Best Drama.  I even hung a banner on my cubicle at Hallmark Cards.  (I believe it said, “I told you so.”)

By that time, I knew one of the big reasons I kept watching:  writer/creator Aaron Sorkin.  He has scribed so many movies and TV shows that I love.  A Few Good Men.  Malice.  The American President. “Sports Night.”  Even “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.”  (Hey, someone had to like it.)

Sorkin’s writing is intelligent and real, always rapid-fire and often preachy when he feels the need to soapbox (which is quite often).  I think he was the perfect choice to write “The Social Network,” the movie about the birth of Facebook, which opens today.

I haven’t seen it yet, but the trailers look amazing….and early reviews are glowing.  And based on his record, I’ll bet I give Mr. Sorkin a really big “like” for his latest effort.

The American Icon

I follow ‘golfgossip’ on Twitter, so I heard about  Tiger Woods’ car accident almost the moment it happened.  The first tweet simply described his condition as ‘serious.’

Then the tweets really hit the fan.

Next thing you know, wife Elin is standing over Tiger’s semi-conscious body holding a golf club. Then the story is they were arguing, Elin chasing his car down the driveway.  The next tweet supplied the motive — a rumored affair between Tiger and a nightclub hostess.

Thanks to the Internet, Tiger’s front yard fender bender has grown like gangbusters.  But in typical fashion, the Tiger camp has maintained its silence, posting only a short statement on tigerwoods.com Sunday afternoon.  In it, Tiger maintains he is ‘the only person responsible for the crash’ and that ‘the many false, unfounded and malicious rumors that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible.’  (Notice he didn’t say ‘untrue’…just ‘irresponsible.’)

The situation reminds me so much of the movie “The American President,” starring Michael Douglas and Annette Bening.

In this Aaron Sorkin classic, President Andrew Shepherd, a widower, gets romantically involved with Sidney Ellen Wade, a lobbyist.  The press — and Shepherd’s Republican opponent for re-election — make a big issue of the relationship.  But Shepherd stubbornly refuses to comment, and his approval rating spirals downward.

Only when the President  openly confronts the lies and innuendo in the press does he win back the confidence of the American voting public…and the love of Sidney Ellen Wade.  [I probably should have said SPOILER ALERT, but if you haven’t seen this 1995 movie yet, it’s kinda your own fault.]

Personally, I think Tiger Woods could learn something by popping “The American President” into the ol’ DVD player.

The night of the accident may not be the proudest in his career or personal life, but saying ‘no comment’ won’t stop the spread of hurtful rumors that have already begun.  When you’re a sports legend like Tiger Woods, there will always be people eager to jump on any opportunity to knock you down.

So say something, Tiger.  Hiding from the police and the press does not hold up to your past behavior or your future success.