All the president's videos

Culture | If movies are but a reflection of society, Hollywood and Washington are but a house of mirrors

Issue: "America votes 1998," Oct. 31, 1998

It's not as though the entertainment industry didn't try to warn audiences ahead of time of their beloved president's predilections-filmed in their best light, of course. A quick tour of the local video store testifies to President Clinton's heroic popularity in Tinseltown. Herewith, a quick charting of all the president's videos:

Absolute Power
Distributor: Sony Pictures.
Director: Clint Eastwood.
Genre: Political Cat-and-Mouse Action.
Presidential impersonator & co-stars: Gene Hackman, Clint Eastwood, Ed Harris.
Bill Clinton as: Insincere sado-masochistic murderer.
Highlights: Never a dull moment; clever plot twists, especially when accomplice to murder flaunts a necklace worn by the victim at president's reception.
Lowlights: Too much sexual exposure and extremely violent murder.
Can the children watch? Rated R for violence, sexuality, and language. Audiences may not want to rent this film due to "in your face" treatment of the crime.
World class rating: Avoidable.

Air Force One
Distributor: Sony Pictures.
Director: Wolfgang Petersen.
Genre: Suspense Thriller.
Presidential impersonator & co-stars: Harrison Ford, Glenn Close.
Bill Clinton as: Rambo
Highlights: Special effects, good acting, and a pounding sound track.
Lowlights: PC messages re: feminism, foreign policy, the military.
Can the children watch? Rated R for violence, profanity.
World class rating: Action.

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The American President
Distributor: Columbia Pictures.
Director: Rob Reiner.
Genre: Romantic Comedy.
Presidential impersonator & co-stars: Michael Douglas, Annette Bening.
Bill Clinton as: A sensitive, swinging widower.
Highlights: The lavish sets.
Lowlights: The seduction and "escape" of the girlfriend from the Lincoln bedroom; cheap shots at conservatives; twisted moral values.
Can the children watch? Rated PG-13 for strong language; situational ethics and lax sexual mores promoted.
World class rating: Impotent.

Distributor: Warner Bros.
Director: Ivan Reitman.
Genre: Politically Correct Comedy.
Presidential impersonator & co-stars: Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver.
Bill Clinton as: Sensitive presidential impersonator.
Highlights: "I think there are certain things you should expect from your president. I ought to care more about you than about me ... more about what's right that what's popular."
Lowlights: The impersonator takes after FDR in his politics.
Can the children watch? Rated PG-13 for brief but sexually explicit opening sequence; bad language.World class rating: Ditto The American President.

Primary Colors
Distributor: Universal.
Director: Mike Nichols.
Genre: Film à clef/Comedy?
Presidential impersonator & co-stars: John Travolta, Emma Thompson.
Bill Clinton as: The sensitive, happy wanderer (on the campaign trail).
Highlights: "Shane ... Come back ... and run for President."
Lowlights: Assorted sexual sins treated as casual amusements, including the candidate's many indiscretions.
Can the children watch? Rated R for strong language and sexual references.
World class rating: Brainless.

Richard III (1955)
Distributor: London Film.
Director: Laurence Olivier.Genre: Shakespearean Tragedy.
Presidential impersonator & co-stars: Laurence Olivier, Claire Bloom, John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson, Cedric Hardwicke.
Bill Clinton as: Insensitive king.
Highlights: Powerful, clear interpretation; universal theme: does character of leaders matter?
Lowlights: Multiple murders and seductions-sexual and political-handled discreetly and with cut aways and shadows.
Can the children watch? Unrated; not likely to be understood by youngsters; astute observations of man's sinful nature.
World class rating: Excellent.

Wag The Dog
Distributor: New Line Cinema.
Director: Barry Levinson.
Genre: Political Satire.
Presidential impersonator & co-starsBill Clinton as: Pervert.
Highlights: Incredible staging of war to distract public from prez's misbehavior during reelection.
Lowlights: Coarse language; jaded attitudes; corrupt CIA; cynicism.
Can the children watch? Rated R for rude language; adult situations.
World class rating: Suspicious.

Presidential Grand Jury Testimony
Distributor: U.S. House of Representatives.
Director: Kenneth Starr.
Genre: National Tragedy.
Presidential impersonator & co-stars: Bill Clinton; Off Screen: Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky, Kathleen Willey, Linda Tripp, Betty Currie, Vernon Jordan.
Bill Clinton as: The artful dodger.
Highlights: The roses in the background.
Lowlights: "I am not going to answer your trick questions."
Can the children watch? No! Sexually explicit passages; childish responses.
World class rating: In progress.


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