Third in my White-House-related commentaries, overly-dramatic lighting, multiple freak rainstorms, and a complete failure to get Diane Lane’s shirt soaking wet detract from a fairly taut, multi-layered thriller. Wesley Snipes is a swaggering DC homicide cop who somehow beats the snot out of several highly-trained Secret Service agents and government assassins. Diane Lane kicks him as his sidekick until she get a chance to save his ass. Alan Alda and that creepy guy from The Agency play “good cop, creepy cop.” Dennis Miller miraculously avoids smirking too much. I say “that doesn’t make sense” too much and explain a lot about the White House.
I explore the logic of assigning an ordinary DC detective to a White House murder case when they already have their own police force. I ponder the idea that the president might be sneaked into the White House by someone other than the Secret Service agent assigned to guard his bedroom. And I consider the plausibility that there might be hidden tunnels underneath the White House (there are!) that Wesley Snipes could sneak into (no way!).
Start the film at the same time you start the commentary. (50 MB)
A romantic comedy (at least I think it’s a comedy) set in the White House, with Michael Douglas as a widowed president and Annette Bening as a flustered and flattered—yet somehow hard-as-nails—lobbyist trying to conduct a romance while politics intervenes. I consider the public’s negative response to the romance to be a little silly. I ponder how the staff’s panic is a little overdone. But I praise the dialog as sharp and the direction as tight, which helps the film over its bumps, which makes sense because this was basically the prototype for the TV show The West Wing.
The White House art direction looks beautiful, which I explain at great length, as I did for The Sentinel. However, I misstate the case about the state dinner depicted; it was based on the Yeltsin dinner during the Clinton administration.
Start the commentary at the same time you start the movie. (51 MB)
Secret Service agent Michael Douglas squares off against Kiefer Sutherland while Eva Longoria looks on. I compare the film to In the Line of Fire, the main point being that, here, the hero is “secretly serving” the first lady and not his partner. I explain my Kiefer Sutherland Rule of Cinema. I wonder how a guy like Walter Xavier even keeps up on the sports scores, let alone gets information about an assassination plot.
I also explain every detail of the White House interiors, given my intimate familiarity, including where the director and producer are wrong in their commentary and how the Secret Service offices seem to be as big as the entire rest of the West Wing. I offer choice tidbits of presidential history and the origin of Camp David. And I contemplate the possibility that the Canadian mounties fingerprinted Paul Bunyan in 1875.
Bonus: We built an entire Web site to explain the location of this movie: White House Museum. That’s service, my friends, and it’s no secret.
Start the commentary at the same time you start the movie. (48 MB)
Running commentaries that you listen to while you watch the movie.