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The Manchurian Candidate

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By the time Jonathan Demme’s paranoid thriller about corporate totalitarianism hit screens in July, Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 had already sated the public’s curiosity for juicy political conspiracy. With the election now behind us, maybe this well-crafted remake of the controversial Cold War classic will have better luck on DVD. Live Schreiber and Meryl Streep, while convincing as vice-presidential candidate Raymond Shaw and his manipulative mother, never fully emerge from the shadows cast by Laurence Harvey’s and Angela Lansbury’s spot-on portrayals in the 1962 original; nonetheless, this Manchurian Candidate tells a more satisfying story. Maj. Ben Marco (a tightly wound Denzel Washington) becomes the heart of this update, and his obsession with Shaw pulls the audience into the center of the hallucinogenic maelstrom.

EXTRAS If you somehow missed the film’s political leanings, the featurettes will leave no doubt. In one of two docs, Demme proposes that his fiction ”pales by comparison” to the real White House, and in one haphazard Coffee and Cigarettes-style discussion, hip-hop auteur Fab 5 Freddy condemns the ”gangsterism” of American foreign policy.

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