Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Movie Review: The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

I thought this somehow
involved China. Nope.
To prime myself for the upcoming Indecision 2012, and also to distract myself from the stomach-churning acceleration and turns of the bus, I watched The Manchurian Candidate remake as I rode back to Boston. All I knew was that it starred Denzel Washington, and that's usually enough for me to hit "play." I was delighted to see that Meryl Streep and Liev Schreiber also had key roles.

Manch Cand has a cool story. The movie follows a major in the US Army as he tries to piece together the events of a pivotal night in Kuwait in '91. Viewers get to see some of what happens in an opening scene: a group of soldiers is ambushed at night, and then... Denzel describes the heroics of Schreiber's character, now a congressman and a recipient of the Medal of Honor for single-handedly fighting off the enemy and guiding the team through hostile terrain. But did that really happen? As Denzel investigates, Meryl Streep chews the scenery as a super-tough senator aiming to place her son (war hero Schreiber, what a concidence!) as the candidate for vice president in the elections. It's really gripping stuff, and the film has choice themes for nerds like me: the fallibility of memory, corruption and science, power and humanity, and let's not forget nepotism and the Oedipus Complex. Yuck.

Is he?
But the real reason you should watch The Manchurian Candidate is to play a drinking game called, "Is Liev Schreiber Constipated?" The game works like this: every time he cracks a smile--
--take 1 sip if his character is clearly undergoing emotional turmoil;
--take 2 sips if his character is clearly in physical pain;
--take 3 sips if his character is clearly trying to be charming;
--take a swig if his character is clearly constipated;
--chug if you can't tell the difference.

You'll be drunk and a better conversationalist in no time!