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Reel Critics

October 19, 2000

Could be "The Contender" at Oscar time

A political thriller with satirical overtones, "The Contender"

presents us with major issues taken straight from the past two years of

newspaper headlines.

The story unfolds with wry humor and insider perspectives that reveal

the negative side of American politics at the highest level. Fans of the

hit television show "The West Wing" will find themselves in familiar

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territory, but with a large dose of steamy sexual situations and tabloid

scandal thrown into the mix.

Director Rod Lurie keeps the story moving at a quick pace with the

help of actors well cast in their roles. Joan Allen does a great job as

Laine Hanson, a liberal female senator who is nominated to become vice

president after the sitting vice president has died.

Of course, she comes under heavy fire from right wing Republicans

during her confirmation hearing. Committee chairman Shelly Runyon (Gary

Oldman) is the chief inquisitor with a style reminiscent of Joe

McCarthy's 1950s witch hunts for communists. But Hanson keeps her cool

and her dignity through all the unsavory allegations.

Jeff Bridges is excellent as Jackson Evans, a Clinton-like president

anxious to leave a positive legacy at the end of his term. Sam Elliot's

strong presence and deep booming voice bring gravity to his role as

Kermit Newman, the president's closest advisor and bearer of bad news to

those who are out of favor with the current administration.

Although this film strives for Hollywood's version of political

correctness, it does raise valid questions about the double standard that

still remains in judging the personal behavior of men and women in their

intimate lives.

A lively and enjoyable movie, "The Contender" might even get a few

nods at Oscar time.

o7 "The Contender" is rated R for strong sexual content and language.

f7

* JOHN DEPKO, 48, is a Costa Mesa resident and a senior investigator

for the Orange County public defender's office.

The naked truth about "Dr. T and the Women"

It's hard to believe that 25 years ago, Robert Altman's classic

"Nashville" was released. It's even harder to believe that 30 years ago,

"M*A*S*H*," Altman's most popular film, hit the screen. As we enter into

the 21st century, Altman returns with "Dr. T and the Women."

"Dr. T" is set in the upper crust of Dallas, Texas. Richard Gere plays

Dr. Sullivan Travis, a popular Dallas gynecologist who is either wanted

or desired by the women in his life.

At home, his daughter Dee Dee (Kate Hudson) is about to get married,

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