Good job, America: Our current presidential race is now weirder and more unpleasant than any movie. When even a new “Purge” movie can’t be scarier than an average Trump rally, you know things are bad. But there’s still plenty to glean from a long history of politics in the movies. BAM’s “Four More Years: An Election Special,” which runs through early August, cherry picks some of the best and brightest from political cinema’s past, each a time capsule of an era that wasn’t too hot either.
Over the series’ three weeks you get a tour of history. You get brainwashed Cold War assassins (“The Manchurian Candidate”). You get two husks of Capraesque corn (“Meet John Doe,” “State of the Union”). You can watch JFK let direct cinema legends Robert Drew, Richard Leacock and more follow him around with 16mm cameras in “Primary.” You can see what America was like on the cusp of Nixon (“Shampoo”) and as he was about to skedaddle (“All the President’s Men”). Re-live the Clinton years with the campaign trail doc “The War Room,” “Wag the Dog” and “Primary Colors.”
And what on earth is it like to watch Warren Beatty’s “Bulworth” in 2016? Here’s a film in which a candidate launches a shrug-emoticon of a campaign, activating a suppressed part of the country by saying whatever the hell thing is on his mind. But unlike a certain someone, he’s a leftie and he actually cares about minorities.