What’s that in Denzel Washington’s hand? Why, it’s a book.
Jonathan Demme’s updated version of The Manchurian Candidate opened to $20M at the box office this weekend. The film was preceded by much conspiracy-mongering about what sort of left-leaning hobbyhorse Demme and Paramount chief Sherry Lansing rode in on and if their film about the country’s first “corporate owned V.P.” bears any resemblance to anyone in real life.
Well, it turns out there is a covert agenda floated forth in The Manchurian Candidate, but it’s not what you think: It’s a vast conspiracy aimed at making freedom-loving American people do something we are constitutionally averse to do: read.
Demme’s film is lousy with literary cameos. Check it out:
Walter Mosley (Bill Clinton’s favorite author) plays a congressman
Edwidge Danticat plays Rosie’s sister (seen in a photo)
Roy Blount, Jr. plays a pundit (who, along with actress/playwright Anna Deavere Smith, hip-hop pioneer Fab Five Freddy, monologist Reno, Def poet Beau Sia, and director Sidney Lumet seem to have fallen to the cutting-room floor)
E. Jean Carroll plays a reporter
Al Franken also plays a reporter
August Wilson appears (sort of) in a lingering shot of a Playbill for his show Jitney on Rosie’s wall.
Of course, this being a Demme film, there are tons of other cameos from friends and colleagues: Roger Corman (also an author!) appears as a former president, a promotion from FBI Director in Demme’s Silence of the Lambs. Artist/professor/fellow Lambs cameo-maker Jim Roche pops up, as do rocker Robyn Hitchcock, and the dude who plays Fuse TV’s own presidential candidate, Haymish Fuse.
None dare call it conspiracy! We are through the looking glass, people. Who will stop the reverse vampires?