By Stephanie Zacharek
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Calum Marsh
By Inkoo Kang
By Sherilyn Connelly
By Carolina del Busto
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Alan Scherstuhl
Chauhan could use some love, but he doesn't get any. He directs the hurt he feels inward, stoking some inner core of Nixonian resentment and megalomania that he can't always hide. He desultorily stalks the streets of Atlantic City, putting up cheap-looking signs and destroying his opponent's literature, talking to himself, reaffirming verbally that he's good and smart and deserving of office. You'll seldom see so complete a picture of loneliness, someone so in need of a hug. On election night, he drunkenly riffs on his own greatness. "Ytit Chauhan is not a man," he says expansively. "Ytit Chauhan is an idea. It's a theory. A concept of community, of love. It's something that we all yearn for. We don't know what it's called — some people call it 'karma' or 'nirvana.' It's actually called Ytit Chauhan!" He grins then, pleased that he's revealed so profound a truth.
Interview with Jason Pollock, director of The Youngest Candidate.
Murder, Spies, & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story and Boogiemen
Murder, Spies, & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story is an exhaustively (and exhaustingly) thorough investigation of the claims of Clint Curtis, the man who was allegedly approached by Florida Rep. Tom Feeney to design a software program to throw the 2004 presidential elections to George Bush. The film has some formal problems — it was created by Brad Friedman of Bradblog.com, who is clearly entranced by his own visage on a silver screen and never seems quite content to let the Clint Curtis story be the Clint Curtis story. Still, it's hard to walk away believing the 2004 election was won honestly. Friedman's inability to self-edit can hardly mask the film's most powerful point: In states that used paper ballots in the 2004 presidential elections, the voting results precisely mirrored the exit polls, while in states that voted electronically, the tallies bore no resemblance to the exit polls and favored Bush over Kerry in ways no pollster could have predicted. This is too weird to ignore, which is why it's so damned upsetting that the film is getting such a limited release.
Boogieman is no less informative and far more compelling. It's an overview of the career of Lee Atwater, famed Republican political strategist and dirty-trick pioneer. One wishes it delved into his history more deeply — if Atwater has any surviving aunts, uncles, or parents, we certainly never find out about it. Alas, maybe the world doesn't need a psychobiography of a human swine like Atwater, a man who existed only to allow overgrown versions of Ytit Chauhan to attain office. It is enough to watch his career roll by. One of his early coups involved conscripting a fundamentalist Christian to run as an independent candidate for a South Carolina congressional seat so he could stir up anti-Semitic invective against Jewish Democrat Max Heller. This allowed the Republican candidate to capitalize on his district's prejudices without getting his hands dirty.
Atwater's career continued in this vein, playing to the very worst instincts of the American electorate to secure wins for Strom Thurmond, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush. It is with something like horror that we remember, midway through the film, that this is the man who controlled the Republican National Convention during Bush Senior's time in office. To his credit, director Stefan Forbes allows that horror to mount without the least bit of assistance from him: Most of the people interviewed in Boogieman actually seem to like Lee Atwater. You can see why. He's charming, quick-moving, quick-witted, impish — as facile with R&B guitar licks as he is with a devastating soundbite. The film actually opens with Atwater onstage at the '88 Bush victory party, jamming on blues standards with a bunch of black guys. He can duck-walk, he can do the splits, he can play on his country's deepest reservoirs of racial fear to win an election and still give big, sincere-looking hugs to his black bandmates.
Click below for a trailer of Murder, Spies, & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story
Any distance you might feel between yourself and the result of cheap politicking depicted in Boogieman is obliterated within the first half-hour of Neshoba. Americans over 50 will likely remember the sudden disappearance of three civil rights workers in Neshoba County, Mississippi, on June 21, 1964. Their bodies were found six weeks later. Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, both in their early 20s, had been shot in the chest; James Chaney, the only black man among the three, had been tortured before being shot. The bodies of all three were hidden in a levee.
The state refused to charge anyone with murder — the killing had been committed with the help of local police officer Cecil Price, and Price spent only two years in prison (for "civil rights violations," the most damning crime that could be prosecuted at the state level). Most of the more than 20 Ku Klux Klan members who killed the men never did any time at all. For 40 years in Philadelphia, Neshoba's ironically named county seat, known killers walked the street.
In interviews with those who remember the murders and knew the men who committed them, Neshoba shows how a guilty conscience has frozen the community in time. They're still defending segregation; they still despise the no-good-Jew civil rights workers who invaded their town in 1964. They have to.
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