Trump Films (the Best Films)

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Thread inspired by J. Hoberman’s excellent The Dream Life. (So-so thread title, I know.)

If you haven’t read it, Hoberman’s book details how Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon all left behind films that appeared during their presidencies and seemed to capture something fundamental about them. Sometimes the connections are obvious, sometimes more elliptical. Examples: The Manchurian Candidate (obvious, at least in retrospect) and the first two Bonds for Kennedy, The Alamo and The Chase (most intriguing pick, as I recall) for Johnson, too many to name for Nixon.

I’ve seen so many films the last couple years, both narrative and documentaries, where Trump is front and center. At least one of them, you’d expect that: The Final Year, covering the end of Obama’s term. Also The Fourth Estate, or at least the part I saw, about the New York Times but more about Trump.

On top of that, though, the less obvious. Jarecki’s The King is about Trump. BlacKkKlansman and Beatriz at Dinner are about Trump. Frederick Wiseman’s Jackson Heights, somewhat (even if it was never conceived as such). Won’t You Be My Neighbor? clearly has Trump on its mind towards the end. The Post mostly sticks to its story, but I remember there was at least one speech in there clearly directed at Trump.

I’m sure there’ll be lots more for the next couple of years. And that’ll be enough.

clemenza, Monday, 13 August 2018 21:41 (four months ago) Permalink

I honestly feel like Trump has ruined my life.

Trϵϵship, Monday, 13 August 2018 22:06 (four months ago) Permalink

Idk if he’s ruining my life, but he’s definitely turning my hair gray

ant banks and wasp (voodoo chili), Monday, 13 August 2018 22:09 (four months ago) Permalink

The first three films I mention above--The Final Year, The Fourth Estate, and The King--all treat election day 2016 as more or less the end of the world.

The documentaries are easy. I think Hoberman wrote exclusively about Hollywood films, many of them big-budget.

clemenza, Monday, 13 August 2018 22:12 (four months ago) Permalink

I assumed this thread was going to be more about these: https://www.nathanrabin.com/happy-place/?category=Trumpterpiece+Theater

Police, Academy (cryptosicko), Monday, 13 August 2018 22:14 (four months ago) Permalink

Of course Get Out - “I would have voted for Obama a third time if I could”

mfktz (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Monday, 13 August 2018 22:18 (four months ago) Permalink

Bar Rescue

devvvine, Tuesday, 14 August 2018 12:43 (three months ago) Permalink

I think Get Out is more about Obama years than it is Trump...

One bad call from barely losing to (Alex in SF), Tuesday, 14 August 2018 12:44 (three months ago) Permalink

Black Panther maybe. People loved seeing the true and wise king return to overthrow the maniac. Killmonger wasn’t really a Trump figure but he was an agent of chaos, upending everything about wakanda that had previously seemed dependable. People like Seth Abramsom—and me in my more wearied moods—like to fantasize about Mueller sweeping in with a bevy of charges even the GOP can’t ignore and restoring some kind of normalcy to the kingdom.

Trϵϵship, Tuesday, 14 August 2018 12:51 (three months ago) Permalink

the prospective father-in-law in Get Out says he wd've voted a third time for Obama

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 14 August 2018 12:53 (three months ago) Permalink

i started a thread a while back along similar lines which never really went anywhere: Fascism at 24 frames per second: onscreen representations of the Presidency in Trump's America

the purge: election year is the first one which springs to mind, although it failed to predict the actual outcome of the election

a space stewardess (bizarro gazzara), Tuesday, 14 August 2018 12:57 (three months ago) Permalink

Lol that movie

Trϵϵship, Tuesday, 14 August 2018 13:03 (three months ago) Permalink

doesn't have to be a good movie to be a trump movie!

in fact it's probably more appropriately trumpian if it's terrible

a space stewardess (bizarro gazzara), Tuesday, 14 August 2018 13:04 (three months ago) Permalink

It predicted that one could attempt to murder his political opponent on a sacrificial altar and maintain his core supporters. It’s not like the new founding fathers had to find a new candidate.

Trϵϵship, Tuesday, 14 August 2018 13:05 (three months ago) Permalink

i wonder if the grandmaster in thor: ragnarok was more trumpish on the page (image-obsessed tyrant/buffoon who wants everyone to love him) but then they cast jeff goldblum and he became, well, jeff goldblum

a space stewardess (bizarro gazzara), Tuesday, 14 August 2018 13:06 (three months ago) Permalink

BG: ah, sorry about that--if I'd know your thread was out there, I wouldn't have started this one. (I searched Trump films and Trump movies, but your title must have been a few screens from the top.)

I'd count Get Out as Obama too--technically released after Trump took office (just barely), but about events that took place under Obama (and about white Obama voters). Horror films are a good place to look for this kind of thing, though: Night of the Living Dead is a great LBJ/Vietnam film, The Exorcist for Nixon, etc.

clemenza, Tuesday, 14 August 2018 13:10 (three months ago) Permalink

enh no worries clemenza, this one already seems more active than mine! i think i struggled to actually articulate what i wanted it to be about anyway, yours is a lot clearer

a space stewardess (bizarro gazzara), Tuesday, 14 August 2018 13:26 (three months ago) Permalink

still to come is darren aronofsky's noah sequel with trump as sampson and hillary delilah

reggie (qualmsley), Tuesday, 14 August 2018 13:44 (three months ago) Permalink

We've got Villeneuve's Baron Harkonnen coming up.

jmm, Tuesday, 14 August 2018 13:47 (three months ago) Permalink

Ladybird had a subtext of nostalgia for the Bush era, if not Bush, which I think worked better now that that time seems in some sense a “simpler time,” which it might not have in 2013

Trϵϵship, Tuesday, 14 August 2018 14:11 (three months ago) Permalink

It probably is helpful to make note as these things are being released, as the references will likely become more oblique and the connection less obvious as we blessedly (hopefully) move past this era down the line.

(Reminded of the recent moment when I heard Jonathan Edwards's 'Sunshine' while in the midst of reading Nixonland and, once the time period of the song's release occurred to me, wondering for the first time if the unnamed antagonist of the song might not be Nixon, which apparently is the case.)

Funkface LLC (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 14 August 2018 14:32 (three months ago) Permalink

it's just so weird to me that there's so little direct reflection of trump's presidency in tv / movies / comic books / whatever

previous presidents have been namechecked in fiction constantly (ime) but there's this lacuna where president trump should be - maybe i'm not watching or reading the right stuff, i dunno, but it feels like he's kinda absent from popular media

a space stewardess (bizarro gazzara), Tuesday, 14 August 2018 14:41 (three months ago) Permalink

It takes most commercial films a year to 18 months and a half to go from shooting to general release, so we may start seeing it more.

Also given the speed at which the outrages pile up, I'm not sure most filmmakers know what to focus on, unless it's eg Spike Lee on Charlottesville.

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 14 August 2018 14:45 (three months ago) Permalink

yeah, some of the stuff that got tagged as Trump-inspired, like season 1 of the Handmaid's Tale, was produced well before anyone knew he would win

President Keyes, Tuesday, 14 August 2018 14:51 (three months ago) Permalink

It feels like Trump is the unacknowledged center of a lot of recent entertainment. Like his effect is there and clearly felt but no one wants to acknowledge his actual existence.

(Not a movie, but MODAAK happened in a comic book.)
https://www.geek.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/trump-modok-2.jpg

Funkface LLC (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 14 August 2018 14:53 (three months ago) Permalink

bizarro gazzara is right that he is more absent than usual from popular media. Even Last Man Standing said recently that they wouldn't talk about Trump on the revive, which is ridiculous. He is too polarizing and everyone saw what happened to Roseanne.

Frederik B, Tuesday, 14 August 2018 14:55 (three months ago) Permalink

Even though he's not always named specifically, my own sense is that there's been lots of Trump at the movies, what prompted me to start this in the first place. More so than with Obama, where I felt that absence. (I remember one writer--maybe Hoberman himself--calling Rachel Getting Married the first Obama film. I'd have to rewatch it to know what was meant by that. There was Ides of March, then Get Out near the end, and after that I draw a blank.)

That 12-18 month gap from conception to release makes something like Wiseman's In Jackson Heights tricky. I think Trump was barely president when I saw it, and with all the time Wiseman has to spend embedding himself into a situation, it was possibly even started before Trump announced. But it was impossible, for me, not to see it through the filter of Trump's anti-immigration crusade when I finally saw it.

There hasn't been much anti-Trump music reach me. I know it's out there--Christgau has something every other month. My favourite Trump song has nothing to do with Trump and came out in 2013: the Julie Ruin's "Lookout."

clemenza, Tuesday, 14 August 2018 15:33 (three months ago) Permalink

there's a purge tv show too

maura, Tuesday, 14 August 2018 18:12 (three months ago) Permalink

(it premieres next month)

if we're including tv in this, i'd definitely throw in the new season of UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT, particularly the documentary episode

maura, Tuesday, 14 August 2018 18:13 (three months ago) Permalink

also i feel like your perception, clemenza, that there's been lots of trump at the movies might be rooted in the way culture in general has become more militaristic and dour? (you could write a dissertation on the d/evolution of imagine dragons from mumford hangers-on to official soundtrack for the no doubt imminent gladiator games)

maura, Tuesday, 14 August 2018 18:15 (three months ago) Permalink

what was the Seagal (or Van Damme?) movie that Trump had cut down to just the carnage for maximum enjoyment?

so, maybe that soporific John Wick garbage?

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 14 August 2018 18:33 (three months ago) Permalink

bloodsport iirc

a space stewardess (bizarro gazzara), Tuesday, 14 August 2018 18:40 (three months ago) Permalink

and it wasn’t that he cut it down, it was that he made don jr fast-forward to the good parts, which makes it funnier/sadder

a space stewardess (bizarro gazzara), Tuesday, 14 August 2018 18:41 (three months ago) Permalink

Two precursors: Pain and Gain and Observe and Report

wayne trotsky (Simon H.), Tuesday, 14 August 2018 18:42 (three months ago) Permalink

yeah, i left Pain & Gain unfinished, as i would like to leave this era

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 14 August 2018 18:45 (three months ago) Permalink

beatriz at dinner

difficult listening hour, Tuesday, 14 August 2018 20:52 (three months ago) Permalink

Logan seemed to incorporate several references to the effects of the trump regime or at least what they were talking about. Clamping down on certain aspects of society etc.
I noticed at the time it was out but it's pretty early in the incumbency

Stevolende, Wednesday, 15 August 2018 09:49 (three months ago) Permalink

the florida project wasn't bad in this regard but there aren't many. (shouldn't be a controversial statement with a degenerate product of nepotism who can't even spell simple words correctly on a regular basis in the oval office but it takes a while for people born into privilege and advantage sufficient enough post-reagan that they get to become professional gatekeepers on multi-million $$ "art" projects to catch wind of what's 'really going on' in 90% of american lives for the production of zeigeist-y films to ensue. i'll be surprised if there are many pre-midterms)

reggie (qualmsley), Wednesday, 15 August 2018 10:53 (three months ago) Permalink

i feel like your perception that there's been lots of trump at the movies might be rooted in the way culture in general has become more militaristic and dour?

I also see a lot of documentaries, and that probably causes me to feel like there are more Trump films out there than there actually are--a lot of what I list above are documentaries.

Also given the speed at which the outrages pile up, I'm not sure most filmmakers know what to focus on

True--unless you're Spike Lee, focused on one specific thing, where the fuck do you start? Wherever you start, it'll be old news within a week. If Trump is reelected--sorry to ruin everyone's day--I suspect there'll be such numbing despair that filmmakers will either turn away entirely, or Trump will only be a metaphorical presence, embedded in nihilistic horror films and such.

I forget that J. Hoberman maintains a site. Here's his review of Get Out ("Conceived in the waning days of Barack Obama’s presidency and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, four days after Donald Trump assumed power"), also a more recent piece on "Trump the Entertainer."

http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2017/03/13/a-real-american-horror-story-get-out/
http://j-hoberman.com/2016/11/the-entertainer-trump-loeil/

clemenza, Wednesday, 15 August 2018 16:09 (three months ago) Permalink

Logan seemed to incorporate several references to the effects of the trump regime or at least what they were talking about. Clamping down on certain aspects of society etc.

this was written years before and filmed before the election

16, 35, DCP, Go! (sic), Wednesday, 15 August 2018 17:18 (three months ago) Permalink

but there was no predatory capitalism or "Clamping down on certain aspects of society" in the USA til the Grifter came along

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 15 August 2018 17:21 (three months ago) Permalink

also, Hugh Jackman didn't have a beard

16, 35, DCP, Go! (sic), Wednesday, 15 August 2018 17:26 (three months ago) Permalink

Seemed to be all too fitting at the time I saw it anyway.

Stevolende, Thursday, 16 August 2018 07:59 (three months ago) Permalink

Hollywood's first explicitly Trump film will probably star Matt Damon, Jake Gyllenhaal and Jessica Chastain.

Alba, Thursday, 16 August 2018 10:07 (three months ago) Permalink

Shock and Awe isn't terrible, but boy it feels 10 years out of date (if it had been made in 2008, I think there would have been a dozen related films even then, counting documentaries). Obviously, it's a W. film first and foremost. But--I'm sure why Rob Reiner felt it would be timely now, much as with The Post--it begins with a Bill Moyers quote about a free press. To that end, it becomes partly a Trump film.

clemenza, Saturday, 18 August 2018 04:43 (three months ago) Permalink

Worst line (one of the two main reporters contrasting Woodward and Bernstein with the reporting they're doing on Bush):

"They took down a president whose biggest crime was trying to cover up some dirty political tricks."

Not quite.

clemenza, Saturday, 18 August 2018 12:52 (three months ago) Permalink

not film but barry (will hader) "is" "trump" (hader a wannabe actor not eastern eurotrash thrall assassin reading alec baldwin (trump)'s lines from glengarry glen ross) a la arrested development bluths = bushes sorta

reggie (qualmsley), Saturday, 18 August 2018 16:24 (three months ago) Permalink

three months pass...

Went to see How to Steal a Million tonight, part of a local rep series called "Designing the Movies." (Too tired, shouldn't have gone.) They've got Whit Stillman's Metropolitan coming up, which the series host described as a snapshot of "Trump's New York." Intriguing, but I've seen Metropolitan two or three times, and I would have said that's as far away from Trump as you can get.

clemenza, Friday, 23 November 2018 03:14 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Also: Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 11/9 is a Trump film. A not particularly good one.

clemenza, Friday, 23 November 2018 03:15 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Metropolitan is a weird case: It kind of fits in that it was shot in Trump's New York, but it's set much earlier (early '70s).

The Greta Van Gerwig (C. Grisso/McCain), Friday, 23 November 2018 03:40 (two weeks ago) Permalink

You could make an argument that Rick Von Sloneker is now president, or at least on the Supreme Court.

The Greta Van Gerwig (C. Grisso/McCain), Friday, 23 November 2018 03:47 (two weeks ago) Permalink

cross-medium:

https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/crudo-she-tweeted-olivia-laings-crudo/

j., Friday, 23 November 2018 04:17 (two weeks ago) Permalink

this book is as excruciating as living through the trump presidency

maura, Friday, 23 November 2018 11:21 (two weeks ago) Permalink

not in a good way either

maura, Friday, 23 November 2018 11:21 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Metropolitan is set in the early '70s? Honestly, that went right past me--I just thought it was set when it was made.

clemenza, Friday, 23 November 2018 12:36 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Looking around trying to confirm that, and all I can come up with is "It's set, according to a title card, in 'Manhattan, Christmas Vacation, not so long ago.'" How did you place it in the early '70s?...I just don't remember anything specific.

clemenza, Friday, 23 November 2018 13:30 (two weeks ago) Permalink

To me it was set in the 80s.

AlXTC from Paris, Friday, 23 November 2018 13:35 (two weeks ago) Permalink

It's based on being in NY after/during Stillman's freshman year so I guess 70s is right, but it really did seem like the 8Os.

Ned Trifle X, Friday, 23 November 2018 13:44 (two weeks ago) Permalink

"I was specifically portraying the 1969 deb season, as during that season there was very much the feeling that the debutante era was over. "

https://www.theawl.com/2012/08/a-conversation-with-whit-stillman-about-the-script-of-metropolitan/

I'm going to have to watch it again because I would not have guessed that year.

Ned Trifle X, Friday, 23 November 2018 13:48 (two weeks ago) Permalink

But:

"People can come to their own conclusions about what period it is. And the reaction was great: there were some people who thought it was the 50s, others, the 60s, others who thought it was the 80s, when it was filmed. What helped the ambiguity on film is that most cars parked on Park Avenue, or on any street, are old cars."

Ned Trifle X, Friday, 23 November 2018 13:53 (two weeks ago) Permalink

The Stillman universe has it's own unique sense of time and logic, but another tell re: Metropolitan's time frame is Audrey (Carolyn Farina's character) briefly reappearing as a grown-up in The Last Days of Disco, which was somewhat clearly set in '79-'81.

The Greta Van Gerwig (C. Grisso/McCain), Friday, 23 November 2018 20:05 (two weeks ago) Permalink

That's a good point--hadn't though about the two films in relation to each other. (Doesn't Audrey turn up in the one he made a couple of years ago, too?)

clemenza, Friday, 23 November 2018 20:38 (two weeks ago) Permalink

"thought"

clemenza, Friday, 23 November 2018 20:38 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Carolyn Farina had a small role as a waitress in Damsels In Distress.

The Greta Van Gerwig (C. Grisso/McCain), Friday, 23 November 2018 21:21 (two weeks ago) Permalink

The Incredibles 2 flirts with being a Trump movie with some "Make Superheroes Legal Again" sloganeering, but then makes the billionaire into a loveable boy scout and the real villain a--well, I don't wanna spoil, but its curious, to say the least.

I still liked the film (Brad Bird is probably the best director of action, live or otherwise, currently working) but either Bird seems ideologically confused or the film bears some of the marks of probably having gone into development before November 2016 and then finding ways to gesture towards Trump without really knowing what to do with this context.

Timothée Charalambides (cryptosicko), Tuesday, 4 December 2018 21:03 (one week ago) Permalink

how has no one said DEADPOOL yet? sure, first one came out in early 2016, but that's the Trump movie.

flappy bird, Tuesday, 4 December 2018 21:38 (one week ago) Permalink

search: the doc Bisbee '17

as the filmmaker noted, they started shooting a month before "Dipshit was elected."

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 4 December 2018 22:50 (one week ago) Permalink

They've got Whit Stillman's Metropolitan coming up, which the series host described as a snapshot of "Trump's New York." Intriguing, but I've seen Metropolitan two or three times, and I would have said that's as far away from Trump as you can get.

Yeah, Metropolitan could be set in Christmas 2017 and it still wouldn't be in Trump's anything -- it is interested in entirely different stuff. I find that description of the movie almost inconceivable.

Guayaquil (eephus!), Tuesday, 4 December 2018 22:53 (one week ago) Permalink

Bird seems ideologically confused

his response to "Brad Bird's films seems v v Randian" was "nuh-uh, I have learnt over time that a little bit of compromise, but not much, can be practical"

sans lep (sic), Tuesday, 4 December 2018 23:02 (one week ago) Permalink

he made the iron giant so he gets a pass from me even if he decides to make nothing but documentaries about puppies being kicked into woodchippers from now on

We're in 2009—it's time to take risks, (bizarro gazzara), Tuesday, 4 December 2018 23:04 (one week ago) Permalink

Nocturnal Animals feels like a parable about the gap between urban coastal America and red-state Texas in a Trump-era way.

... (Eazy), Tuesday, 4 December 2018 23:22 (one week ago) Permalink

ehhh

flappy bird, Wednesday, 5 December 2018 04:12 (one week ago) Permalink

Fury Road definitely feels like it belongs in this category, despite having come out in 2015.

days of being riled (zchyrs), Wednesday, 5 December 2018 14:16 (one week ago) Permalink

Nah, Fury Road is well Brexit

god fine. FINE. do not test me on this. pic.twitter.com/pIbC45xUN2

— Georgina Voss (@gsvoss) February 20, 2018

Andrew Farrell, Wednesday, 5 December 2018 14:45 (one week ago) Permalink

(thread well worth a look (Brexit not so much))

Andrew Farrell, Wednesday, 5 December 2018 14:48 (one week ago) Permalink

is immortan joe the eu, and max and furiosa the plucky brexiters? or is joe the crusty brexiter, trying to keep his grip on the imaginary 'good old days', as represented by the brides? truly the mark of great art is that one can read volumes into it

We're in 2009—it's time to take risks, (bizarro gazzara), Wednesday, 5 December 2018 14:48 (one week ago) Permalink


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