' ' Cinema Romantico: Cinematically Selecting an Iowa Caucus Candidate

Monday, February 03, 2020

Cinematically Selecting an Iowa Caucus Candidate

In August, Jon Caramanica and Jon Pareles, music critics at The New York Times, “analyzed,” to borrow their words, “playlists used by nine Democratic candidates and President Trump to see how they help set the tone for each campaign.” Set the tone is the key demarcation there. A Presidential Candidate’s playlist is not going to necessarily reflect the reality of her/his taste in music. I mean, does Senator Professor Elizabeth Warren think “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence & the Machine slaps? I’m sure she does, but I’m also sure she’s including it on the playlist not so much because it slaps but because it conveys, as the Times writes, some part of her political message. Asking a candidate to name his or her favorite movie, on the other hand, just one and free from the lead-in to a campaign rally, has always struck me as more personal. Who’s going to lie about a favorite movie? (Ted Cruz, maybe?)

That’s where Cinema Romantico comes in. For the last three Presidential Election cycles we have analyzed each candidate’s favorite movie and based on that, and that alone, absolutely nothing else, do you hear me potential angry commenters wanting to take this all out of context, cinematically endorsed one. 2020, however, proved an extraordinary challenge not so much to make a pick as to find the necessary criteria for which to make it. This all started with Beto O’Rourke, as loyal frustrated followers will remember, and who has since dropped out, penning an essay referencing “Last of the Mohicans” but without ever clarifying if this was, in fact, his favorite movie as it ours. We made repeated overtures to O’Rourke and his campaign by email and social media but he never responded.

Kamala Harris would have earned our endorsement for citing “My Cousin Vinny” (as established at my friend’s holiday party this past December, after my sixth or seventh glass of punch, Marisa Tomei as Mona Lisa Vito is the greatest screen performance *ever*) but she, too, was forced to drop out.

Candidates still in the race, meanwhile, have made it difficult to ascertain their favorite movie. The only available articles online discussing this topic – like E, like LA Mag – have merely managed to extract this crucial info from a handful of candidates, not the whole gang. As in 2016, Bernie Sanders remains evasive on the issue. Elizabeth Warren too, as we discovered in reaching out to her and her campaign by email and social media to verify her favorite movie only to receive no response. Perhaps these candidates have more pressing matters given the stakes of 2020, yes, but then again, in The New York Times recent second installment of asking the candidates 20 questions they saw fit, in their ostensibly esteemed estimation, to ask for a celebrity crush but not a favorite movie. Lame. Still, the 2020 Iowa Caucus is tonight, the stakes are high and the Cinema Romantico Cinematic Endorsement, the most vital Cinematic Endorsement west of the Alleghenies per The United States Magazine and Democratic review, must go on.

The favorite movie of Bernie Sanders is...
As stated, Bernie Sanders seems to have no favorite movie. And you know what? This feels right. If the Senator’s fellow Brooklynite, Mel Brooks, on the very first AFI 100 Greatest Movies special said he had, like, a hundred favorite movies, or thereabouts, I think I’ve come to believe that Senator Sanders has no favorite movies. Like a Lutheran Pastor watches a movie to see how he/she might work its themes into a sermon, Bernie Sanders watches a movie to see how he might filter its themes through his political revolution.

Elizabeth Warren might not have been responded to Cinema Romantico for comment but it is nevertheless well known that Senator Professor Warren is a huge fan of The Rock. So, using this information, and consulting Cinema Blend’s ranking of the 10 Best Rock movies, we deduce that Warren’s favorite movie must be “Furious 7.” Maybe next time you’ll respond to Cinema Romantico’s emails, Senator Professor.

Tom Steyer, that trendy galoot, created a Spotify playlist but has not named a favorite movie. One of his Spotify songs is, however, “The Harder They Come” by Jimmy Cliff. If Mr. Steyer had cited the film giving Cliff’s song its name as his favorite, I gotta tell you, the former hedge fund manager would have earned our endorsement going away. But not only do I doubt a former hedge fund manager knows “The Harder They Come” even is a movie, let alone a raw and ragged and violent one, if you’re making a Spotify playlist with the title track then you’ve missed the fundamental point of the movie. Surprise!

The favorite movie of Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, who I didn’t even realize was still in the race, is “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” which okay, but c’mon. This is like Rob Gordon of “High Fidelity” putting “Let’s Get It On” from “Let’s Get It On” on his Top Five Side Ones, Track Ones.

Andrew Yang’s favorite movie is “The Shawshank Redemption.” And I gotta say, it’s a little ironic that a guy who claims he wants to make America think harder says his favorite movie is one that telegraphs every move it makes from a thousand miles away.

That’s how many favorite movies, sir?
Pete Buttigieg, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, when asked about his favorite movie [emphasis singular noun] gave – Oh God – five. “No one favorite,” he said. “The Godfather and “Gangs of New York are up there. I’m also a fan of Sci-Fi that makes you think, like Contact and Arrival. And Dr. Strangelove is always timely.” Typical consultant. Ask him to name one movie and he essentially tells you he needs to perform additional analysis.

Joe Biden likes “Chariots of Fire”, though his explanation, about the character of Eric Liddell putting “personal fame and glory behind principles”, veers a little too close to message over aesthetic for this blog’s taste.

Amy Klobuchar, on the other hand, the Senator from the great state of Minnesota, seems sincere in her affection for “The Sound of Music”. But. This is the Cinematic Endorsement. We’re really looking for some distinctive personal taste here. And so. While I strongly considered just ignoring the Who’s In and Who’s Out and endorsing Kamala Harris anyway, that just seemed like a cop-out. What is Cinema Romantico, The New York Times?

Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York, might be the most milquetoast candidate out there, but dammit if his favorite movie, “Blazing Saddles”, doesn’t pack the precise je ne sais quoi punch we’re looking for. And besides, doesn’t it seem like the 2020 Iowa Caucus should end with one big candidate fight spilling out into the street?

Cinema Romantico cinematically endorses Michael Bloomberg. (As always, please don’t take this out of context.)


Wretched Genius said...

I don't know, man. Pete may have waffled on picking just one title, but he did drop Gangs of New York in there, which shows that at least he has some taste in singling out of of Scorcese's oft-forgotten masterpieces.

Nick Prigge said...

IT'S ONE OR HIT THE BRICKS!!! But also, fair.

I'd like to hear Pete's thoughts on that one, though off the record. Because on the record I'm sure he'd just use it as a launchpad to discuss violence in today's America when I'd most want to hear, say, his thoughts on Cameron Diaz's performance.