Every week, IndieWire asks a select handful of film and TV critics two questions and publishes the results on Monday. (The answer to the second, “What is the best film in theaters right now?”, can be found at the end of this post.)
This week’s question: If you could force Donald J. Trump to watch one movie for any reason (whether to educate him, torture him, amuse him, etc.), what would it be and why?
Tomris Laffly (@TomiLaffly), Film Journal, Film School Rejects
Can you really educate Trump through cinema? I think not. Put this year’s devastating trio of Syrian documentaries in front of him, and he’d say, “those people, including children, get what they deserve.” Make him watch a climate change film, and he’d call it fake news. For crying out loud, expose his eyeballs to “Finding Dory” and he’d probably mock poor Dory’s short-term memory loss problem and say something like, “that loser Dory had it coming,” and even claim baby fish who have pre-existing conditions like Dory should just curl up and die as they don’t deserve healthcare.
I mean, we’re talking about a through and through sociopath here who completely lacks decency, logic and other forms of human things. I guess a good form of torture would be making him watch “The Big Sick.” Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE THIS FILM ABOVE AND BEYOND. We, as normal people, know and understand that “The Big Sick” tells a beautiful, heartwarming story about cross-cultural acceptance and empathy that celebrates love. He’d probably be disturbed by those themes. So…why not?
Charles Bramesco (@intothecrevasse), Freelance for the Guardian, Nylon, Vulture
I’d show him the movie they show Alex in “A Clockwork Orange” that makes him violently ill whenever he tries to do something evil. Trump’s impervious to reason, logic, pleading, emotional appeals and Congressional action, but maybe the Ludovico Process could do the trick and plug in the part of his brain containing the mechanisms creating empathy. Or at the very least, get him on a short psychosomatic leash.
Vadim Rizov (@Vrizov), Filmmaker Magazine
Not that anything would get through that creature’s thick skull, save perhaps a stern denunciation sung by a Baptist choir, but in a hypothetical universe in which he were a moral agent capable of autonomous thought and ethical self-evaluation the most germane title at this time would be 1964’s “The Best Man.” This is a movie in which one candidate is offered material that could be used to blackmail/torpedo his opponent, and he must make an ethical decision as to whether to do so would be best for himself, the campaign, the country, etc. That’s politics!
Eric Kohn (@erickohn), IndieWire
In honor of the late, great George Romero, I’d force DT to watch “Night of the Living Dead” — in part because it’s a scathing look at what happens to an America in which the media has been invalidated and the country is stuck wasting its with mindless conflicts, but also because I bet it’ll give him some well-earned nightmares.
Christopher Llewellyn Reed (@chrisreedfilm), Hammer to Nail
I do not think Donald Trump, at this point in his life, is capable of learning anything new or absorbing information that runs counter to the rush of noise in his head, so I will abstain from suggesting a film for pedagogical reasons. I just don’t think he’d listen. So instead I’d like to offer a suggestion of a film that showcases women and people of color – in fact, women of color – two groups he has consistently spoken of with enormous disrespect, just to rub his face in images that shall offend (white men factor not at all here). That film is Julie Dash’s 1991 “Daughters of the Dust.”
It tells the story of three generations of African-American women as they prepare to leave their traditional home on an island off the coast of South Carolina for the mainland. Set in 1902, the movie offers a lush visual recreation of the time and culture of its protagonists, and weaves in a mixture of spoken word and song. The entire focus of the story is on these women, as they recall their family’s past history. Beautifully photographed, the movie is not for everyone, since Dash eschews traditional Western narrative techniques, creating an elliptical mélange of myth and drama. That, for me, is the icing on the cake for Mr. Trump: not only would he have to watch strong African-American women talk amongst themselves for 2 hours, he would also be extremely bored, since “Daughters of the Dust” requires an attention span longer than that of a gnat. He’ll want those two hours back, but they will forever after belong to Julie Dash and her marvelous cast.
Max Weiss (@maxthegirl), Baltimore Magazine
This question implies that Trump can be moved, humbled, or changed in any way, which I don’t think is the case. (Sociopaths gotta sociopath.)
David Ehrlich (@davidehrlich), IndieWire
I agree with my colleagues who say that Trump has never had much use for art — art requires empathy, or at least a basic ability to appreciate the world from somebody else’s perspective — but I’m sure he’s looking forward to “The Emoji Movie” all the same. And while it’s true that he often seems like the ideal audience for the kind of nuanced, well-rounded documentary filmmaking that’s designed to take viewers from “I totally understand this issue” to “Nobody knew this issue was so complicated,” a humiliating political defeat is the only thing capable of moving our current President from one side of that equation to the other.
In other words, the only possible upside to force-feeding Trump a certain film is that it would occupy his time for a little while and possibly spare the world from one of the many destructive embarrassments he visits upon it on a daily basis. By that logic, my response to this survey would have to be Anders Weberg’s 720-hour “Ambiancé,” the longest film ever made. It actually won’t be finished until 2020, so Trump may have to kill some time colluding with the guy at the concession stand for more butter on his popcorn, but the vast majority of Americans probably won’t complain if he wants to set aside some time to watch the 72-hour trailer when it’s released next year.
Mike Ryan (@MikeRyan), Uproxx
He seems to like golf. “I bet he’d like ‘Tin Cup.'”
Miriam Bale (@mimbale), Freelance
I’m confident he doesn’t have the attention span to sit through any feature film, so I’d send him something short, like one of the videos from “The Ring.”