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Non-Review Review: The Candidate (1972)

The Candidate is that rare movie that is anchored firmly in its own time, released in June 1972, but remains relevant through until today. Writer Jeremy Larner won an Oscar for his screenplay, and his portrayal of election politics seems worryingly plausible. The Candidate is remarkably frank about its politics, but also in its depiction of the system. There’s no pussyfooting around for fear of alienating the audience with hostile political ideas, instead the film embraces its political position and runs from there. While it feels like it was written in the shadow of the then-looming 1972 Presidential election, it does seem to be quite applicable to modern politics.It remains relevant, perhaps an illustration of how little has changed.

If anything, it seems like The Candidate is relatively tame compared to current political realities.

“I came here to chew gum and get elected… and… well, I’m not out of gum.”

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Hair-Raising Thriller

As the release of Angels & Demons approaches, I have one question. Just one question about Tom Hanks’ intrepid symbologist’s symbologist, Robert Langdon. It’s not why everyone seems to turn to him when they have a problem probably more suited to… well, the police. Or how he never seems to need to look anything up, ever. Or what he does when he’s not uncovering the seemingly endless array of underground Catholic-themed conspiracies (I reckon it’s a niche market). Nope, but I sense it may be related to the above. My question is this: what the hell is going on with his hair?

Seriously, who convinced Tom Hanks, let alone Ron Howard it was good idea? In hindsight maybe it was, as perhaps it distracted me away from the poor plotting, pacing and action in The DaVinci Code – indeed, I dislike it a lot less than most critics. Perhaps it’s designed to hide the movie’s plot hole, like some sort of plot-hole-cloaking device. Hell, the Angels & Demons features a plot to destroy the Vatican with dark matter (you gotta give those plotters props for creativity – not even the laws of physics can stop them! Mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!).


"This is so awkward... We've all got the same hair..."

In fairness, Hanks is doing his best to downplay the hair – perhaps he’s afraid be being upstaged? – placing the blame on stylist Manny Miller, who tells the movie’s stories through hair apparently. Though, it that’s the case, Hanks really didn’t need the hair upgrade – thinning seems rather adequate for the movie on hand. Perhaps they should have George-Lucas-ed the recent box set edition of the first movie to tone the hair down a bit. I can’t think of any other reason people might consider having a DaVinci Code boxset. Perhaps if it came with your own Robert Langdon wig…

I apologise if I’m being flippant, but it really is quite distracting. It looks greasy and sleazy – two things that Hanks couldn’t be if he tried. Langdon looks like he’s selling pills at an disco, not a world-renowned expert in symbology. Even the news that the ponytail is gone doesn’t relax me none, though it is a good sign that even the screenwriter thought the hair was a bit too much. Maybe for the inevitable third part of the trilogy.

The film looks like a by-the-numbers thriller, and is getting pasted by critics. I’ll admit I haven’t read the book (The DeVinci Code was enough Dan Brown for me), but I didn’t find The DaVinci Code film too offending (it managed to be less patronising than the book). Not stellar, but not terrible. I imagine I’ll catch this sometime, but probably not in the cinema.


Angels & Demons is the new film from Ron Howard (Apollo 13, Frost/Nixon), starring Tom Hanks (Cast Away, Forrest Gump), Ewan McGregor (the Star Wars prequels, Shallow Grave) and Tom Hanks’ hair. It opens worldwide tomorrow, 14th May 2009.