SILVER CITY (John Sayles, 2004)
John Sayles’ latest film SILVER CITY dips into the political world, in particular the Colorado governor’s race. Chris Cooper plays Dickie Pilager, the dim bulb son of a well-connected, well-heeled Congressman. During a campaign ad shoot at a lake, Dickie reels in a corpse. His advisers keep the incident out of the press and hire discredited journalist turned private investigator Danny O’Brien, played by Danny Huston, to find out who they believe is trying to sabotage Dickie’s election.
SILVER CITY isn’t among Sayles’ best films, but this cynical view of contemporary American politics and big business provides enough sizzle to make it worth a look. The first half has its funny moments, with Dickie’s mangled syntax and tortured logic clearly echoing a real world counterpart. Sayles gets in his jabs, but SILVER CITY’S strength is connecting the dots in the media and political cycles. Sayles traces how rumor, conjecture, and outright lies seep into the discussion and drive it. He also illustrates how those in power can be dirty while keeping their hands clean and innocent yet somehow corrupt. Essentially SILVER CITY is a reworking of CHINATOWN, with Huston’s private eye walking in Jack Nicholson’s Jake Gittes’ shoes. SILVER CITY doesn’t reach the artistic level of Polanski’s classic, but it works as an insightful dissection of how things are done today.
(Review first aired on the October 12, 2004 NOW PLAYING)