Movies are rushing to impact the election. Don’t ask whether they’ll work. Ask whether they’ll last.


A place for your top news update


Movies are rushing to impact the election. Don’t ask whether they’ll work. Ask whether they’ll last.

Like its groundbreaking predecessor, “Subsequent Moviefilm” is a raunchy, sharply political picaresque through the American heartland. Beneath the gross-out gags and self-owns, Baron Cohen’s subtext is easily discernible: America, are you really considering four more years of this?

Coincidentally, filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi released her new documentary on the same day as Baron Cohen’s film: “American Selfie: One Nation Shoots Itself” offers a similarly observant travelogue through the country’s fractured political culture, with fewer laughs and more sighs of weary resignation.

Pelosi, the alternately intrepid and insouciant daughter of the House speaker, has made a career of venturing outside her own liberal bubble with films like “Journeys With George” and “Citizen USA: A 50 State Road Trip.” With “American Selfie,” she presents a queasily candid summa of the alienation, wounded psyches and media-siloed belief systems she’s been chronicling for two decades. Like Baron Cohen, she saw this coming.

Less cautionary tales than desperate pleas for sanity, “Subsequent Moviefilm” and “American Selfie” join a slew of narrative features and documentaries designed to move the needle during election season. Showtime brought out the insta-history biopic “The Comey Rule,” about former FBI director James B. Comey, in September, closely followed by the Amazon production of “The Glorias,” an impressionistic biopic about the feminist activist Gloria Steinem. A few days later saw the theatrical release of Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” in which Baron Cohen delivers a slyly self-referential performance as Abbie Hoffman, his ’60s-era forebear in mischief-making agitprop.

All were purposefully timed to remind audiences of the Trump era’s depredations, whether in the form of shredded institutions, normalized sexism or creeping authoritarianism. “The idea was, this [series] is going to matter, this is going to count, this is going to be relevant,” “Comey Rule” star, Jeff Daniels, told The Washington Post last month. He added that if Showtime had stuck to its initial plan to air the series after the election, “then I’m out. It’s that simple.”

Comment here