The Manchurian Candidate is the best anti-George Bush movie of the year surpassing even the fictional 9/11 by Michael Moore. (Oh I forgot, Moore's account is a non-fictional documentary. My apology.) I will say that while I am voting for Bush, I did enjoy the new version of the Manchurian Candidate. While Roger Ebert argued that you don’t need to see the original to enjoy the new one or that it is not a necessity, after spending most of a day thinking about this point, I disagree.
While the latest version has many advantages as far as film production is concerned, it lacks the complexity of the original. For one, the original was written as a cold-war thriller and while John Frankenheimer directed his ire at the McCarthyites of that era, the movie does make it clear that the bad guys did exist and really did try to take over the United States. Frankenheimer understood evil existed but that extremism in fighting it created its own problem. Jonathan Demme’s version lacks Frankenheimer's nuances and simply just made an anti-Bush film and disguised it as a thriller. In Demme’s world, the bad guys are not the Islamic fundamentalists terrorists that have killed thousands of our own, but corporate America. (Can you say Halliburton, anyone? There is no doubt that the fictional Manchurian corporation is the replicate of Halliburton.)
Essentially Demme’s vision is that corporate America is our chief threat to our freedom and that the present war on terror is a mere distraction from the real issue of corporate America's rape of the rest of the us. It is pure Bullshit but it what passes for reason or debate from the left today. Despite the lack of real understanding of the world, Demme’s movie does work on certain levels. For one, it is well acted. For another, it is a thriller that leaves you gasping. Especially, if you have seen the original, the ending is unexpected. At least, I did not expect it.
Frank Sinatra, just like Denzel Washington in the remake, has recurring nightmares and never feels quite right about his experiences in the Korea war, as Washington does not feel quite right about his experience in the first Gulf War. Both men take their roles to another level. If you wondered about Sinatra's skill as an actor, this movie proved that if he really worked at it; he could have easily been one of the best actors of his era or any era. He was that good. His angst at trying to understand what has happened, combined with the Army intelligence investigation into the story of his former comrades has you believing in the unbelievable. Let face it, the whole plot centered on the Chinese communists brainwashing one man into becoming an assassin and used as part of plot to take over the United States.