Our Brand Is Crisis

Screenwriter Peter Straughan (The Men Who Stare at Goats) has turned Our Brand Is Crisis (2005), Rachel Boynton’s fine documentary about U.S. political strategists perverting a Bolivian presidential election, into a comedy for Sandra Bullock, whose role as a weary Machiavelli in sunglasses and trench coat gives her little to work with but a stream of jaded one-liners. Billy Bob Thornton plays her good-ol’-boy nemesis on a rival campaign (James Carville figured in the Boynton movie), but the best performance comes from Joaquim de Almeida as the heroine’s client, a brusque senator unschooled in presenting himself to the public. Producers George Clooney and Grant Heslov made an auspicious debut with Good Night, and Good Luck (2005), which dealt with personal bravery during the McCarthy era, but this feature, with its self-fulfilling cynicism, reminded me more of their other electoral drama, The Ides of March (2011). David Gordon Green directed; with Anthony Mackie, Ann Dowd, Scoot McNairy, and Zoe Kazan.