904 Election

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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Street Dude
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904 Election

#1 Post by Street Dude » Tue Sep 02, 2008 12:16 pm

Election

Image Image

Perky, overachieving Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) gets on the nerves of history teacher Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick) to begin with, but after she launches her campaign for high-school president and his personal life starts to fall apart, things spiral out of control. In Alexander Payne's satire Election, the teacher becomes unhealthily obsessed with cutting his student down to size, covertly backing a spoiler candidate to stop her from steamrolling to victory, and putting in motion a series of dirty tricks and reckless promises with uncanny real-world political parallels. Adapting a then-unpublished novel by Tom Perrotta, Payne grounds the absurdity of his central dynamic in the recognizable—the setting is his hometown of Omaha, and the accomplished cast is rounded out with nonprofessionals—and distills his closely observed take on deeply flawed humanity to its bitter but stealthily sympathetic essence.

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION:

• New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised and approved by cowriter-director Alexander Payne, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• Audio commentary from 2008 featuring Payne
• New interview with Payne
• New interview with actor Reese Witherspoon
The Passion of Martin, Payne's 1991 UCLA senior thesis film
TruInside: "Election," a 2016 documentary featuring on-set footage and interviews with cast and crew
• Omaha local-news reports on the film's production
• More!
• PLUS: An essay by critic Dana Stevens

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mfunk9786
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#2 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Sep 02, 2008 1:27 pm

Street Dude wrote:I love Election.

MARRY ME REESE!
kaujot wrote:It's whether or not it's actually any good.
Does anyone here really dislike Election? I thought it was pretty universally loved and/or respected.

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#3 Post by domino harvey » Tue Sep 02, 2008 1:31 pm

I can't take anything Alexander Payne does seriously after his quote about the Seventh Seal

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#4 Post by Morgan Creek » Tue Sep 02, 2008 1:44 pm

I love Election, too - really one of the small handful of outstanding American comedies (plot, character, script, acting - just like in the olden days) of the past decade. Now that I think of it, I'm not sure what else would be included in that handful. . .

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#5 Post by Antoine Doinel » Tue Sep 02, 2008 1:46 pm

domino harvey wrote:I can't take anything Alexander Payne does seriously after his quote about the Seventh Seal
What was the quote?

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#6 Post by domino harvey » Tue Sep 02, 2008 1:54 pm

Alexander Payne in the Guardian wrote:But have you seen The Seventh Seal lately - the film we all thought was so cool in university? It's unwatchable and laughable now. Interesting how that works.

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#7 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Sep 02, 2008 2:08 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Alexander Payne in the Guardian wrote:But have you seen The Seventh Seal lately - the film we all thought was so cool in university? It's unwatchable and laughable now. Interesting how that works.
What guy from Omaha says "in university" without intentionally trying to sound like a stuck up twat?

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#8 Post by Tom Hagen » Tue Sep 02, 2008 2:43 pm

Alexander Payne in the Guardian wrote:But have you seen The Seventh Seal lately - the film we all thought was so cool in university? It's unwatchable and laughable now. Interesting how that works.
This is from the same Alexander Payne who did rewrites for Jurrasic Park III and worked on an early version of I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, right? Bergman followed up The Seventh Seal with Wild Strawberries in the same year; at last check, we are still waiting for the Sideways follow-up.

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#9 Post by kaujot » Tue Sep 02, 2008 3:11 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:
kaujot wrote:It's whether or not it's actually any good.
Does anyone here really dislike Election? I thought it was pretty universally loved and/or respected.
I don't dislike it. I enjoyed it when I saw it. I just don't think Criterion should bother.

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#10 Post by redbill » Tue Sep 02, 2008 3:28 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Alexander Payne in the Guardian wrote:But have you seen The Seventh Seal lately - the film we all thought was so cool in university? It's unwatchable and laughable now. Interesting how that works.
Maybe he's confusing The Seventh Seal with The Seventh Sign. Happens to the best of them...

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#11 Post by Antoine Doinel » Tue Sep 02, 2008 3:28 pm

Tom Hagen wrote:
Alexander Payne in the Guardian wrote:But have you seen The Seventh Seal lately - the film we all thought was so cool in university? It's unwatchable and laughable now. Interesting how that works.
This is from the same Alexander Payne who did rewrites for Jurrasic Park III and worked on an early version of I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, right? Bergman followed up The Seventh Seal with Wild Strawberries in the same year; at last check, we are still waiting for the Sideways follow-up.
Well, to be fair to Payne his script and what ended up being INPYCAL is vastly different. Also, he did contribute one of the better shorts to Paris, Je T'Aime. And it's not like he said he was better than Bergman, just that the film didn't hold up for him. Hardly a crime, but I wholeheartedly disagree with him.

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#12 Post by domino harvey » Tue Sep 02, 2008 3:47 pm

To my eyes he's never lived up to the potential shown in Citizen Ruth

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#13 Post by Tom Hagen » Tue Sep 02, 2008 4:44 pm

Okay, so Chuck and Larry is a cheap shot. But saying a film is "laughable" is a bit more condescending than merely asserting it doesn't hold up years later. I do agree that its unfair to assume that Payne's criticism of a master like Bergman is in service of elevating his own work. However, in my view, it doesn't help Payne's case as a filmmaker or as a person to make an outrageously pompous statement dismissing The Seventh Seal as film school wankerism.

I have enjoyed every film Payne has directed, and I look forward to a new feature from him and Jim Taylor. The only thing that keeps me from praising Payne as one of the current lights of American cinema (other than his conspicuous absence over the last four years) is that his films suffer from the utter contempt that he demonstrates for his characters. Far too many moments in his movies are out-and-out self-satisfied condescension masquerading as satire. A statement like this serves to reinforce my notion of Payne as a too-cool-for-school intellectual who spends the better portion of his days looking down upon the world below him. For more evidence, see Payne's ultra-smug introduction to Fellini's La Dolce Vita on the Koch Lorber DVD.

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#14 Post by Morgan Creek » Tue Sep 02, 2008 6:12 pm

Tom Hagen wrote:The only thing that keeps me from praising Payne as one of the current lights of American cinema (other than his conspicuous absence over the last four years) is that his films suffer from the utter contempt that he demonstrates for his characters. Far too many moments in his movies are out-and-out self-satisfied condescension masquerading as satire.
I'm curious about your take on Payne, as I don't get that reading from his films at all - unlike, say, the Coens, whose snarky misanthropy has me wincing every time. His Midwest seems treated with more bemused affection than condescension (I don't recall his commentary on Election suggesting otherwise), and he captures that segment of American middle-class life better than nearly anyone today, and not only in the physical details. Citizen Ruth (which I do like) may have wandered a bit into the territory you're describing, but Payne had his tone calibrated by Election.

The state of comedy in this country is at such a low point - particularly social comedy (what other film has even fallen into that category recently? Junebug is all that comes to mind) - that I'm grateful for any attempt, but I do think Payne is a gifted director, and I'll be looking forward to seeing what direction he heads in after Sideways.

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#15 Post by mikeohhh » Wed Sep 03, 2008 12:43 pm

Morgan Creek wrote:
Tom Hagen wrote:The only thing that keeps me from praising Payne as one of the current lights of American cinema (other than his conspicuous absence over the last four years) is that his films suffer from the utter contempt that he demonstrates for his characters. Far too many moments in his movies are out-and-out self-satisfied condescension masquerading as satire.
I'm curious about your take on Payne, as I don't get that reading from his films at all - unlike, say, the Coens, whose snarky misanthropy has me wincing every time. His Midwest seems treated with more bemused affection than condescension (I don't recall his commentary on Election suggesting otherwise), and he captures that segment of American middle-class life better than nearly anyone today, and not only in the physical details. Citizen Ruth (which I do like) may have wandered a bit into the territory you're describing, but Payne had his tone calibrated by Election.
No fucking kidding Citizen Ruth wanders into that territory. Explain all those airplane noises drowning out the soundtrack indicating that transpires in this film is taking place in "flyover country". Ugh, terrible movie. I do like Election a lot however.

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#16 Post by Highway 61 » Wed Sep 03, 2008 2:27 pm

I definitely felt Payne's contempt come through in About Schmidt, which is one of the most depressing movies I've ever seen. I felt hopeless and lethargic after watching it.

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#17 Post by Camera Obscura » Wed Sep 03, 2008 2:28 pm

I loved Election, and I'm not particularly fond of The Seventh Seal either (although I wouldn't call it laughable), so I' m still with Payne on that one. Actually, I couldn't care less about his thoughts on Bergman.

I do wish he would be a little more productive though, but apparently, a new project is in the pipeline.

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#18 Post by swo17 » Wed Sep 03, 2008 2:37 pm

Highway 61 wrote:I definitely felt Payne's contempt come through in About Schmidt, which is one of the most depressing movies I've ever seen. I felt hopeless and lethargic after watching it.
I had just started working as an actuary (and was not loving it) when I saw About Schmidt for the first time. And you thought you were depressed...

I've since come around to it though, and I think it's probably Payne's best film, though Election comes close.

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#19 Post by MyNameCriterionForum » Wed Sep 03, 2008 3:06 pm

Of course he's condescending to the Midwest -- the haircut says it all.

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Re: Election (Alexander Payne, 1999)

#20 Post by tojoed » Thu May 07, 2009 1:45 pm

Election coming to Blu-Ray in August 2009 in the UK.

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Re:

#21 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Sat May 09, 2009 8:36 pm

Tom Hagen wrote:we are still waiting for the Sideways follow-up.
We???

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Re: Election (Alexander Payne, 1999)

#22 Post by Cosmic Bus » Sun May 15, 2011 5:39 pm

The original (and pretty bad) ending found on a workprint copy at a flea market.

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Re: Election (Alexander Payne, 1999)

#23 Post by Oedipax » Sun May 15, 2011 6:20 pm

Very odd ending. I kept waiting for some kind of revenge twist that never came. Maybe it made more sense in the book.

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Re: Election (Alexander Payne, 1999)

#24 Post by domino harvey » Sun May 15, 2011 6:22 pm

It's been a while since I read it, but I recall the book's ending being VERY underwhelming (and based on the description, it's the same used car lot thing)

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Re: Election (Alexander Payne, 1999)

#25 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Sat May 04, 2013 1:41 am

I watched a bit of this again the other night. It still holds up as a definitive high school movie for me. The sense of entitlement, apathy as rebellion and how uniformly clueless adults can sometimes be when trying to understand children. It's not quite how I saw my experience with it, although there were shades of it. It's still damn funny too, and probably Broderick's last great performance on film.

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