Films to see before you vote
Powers of artistic persuasion may vary from Leni Reifenstahl's evil eloquence to Eddie Vedder's less eloquent MTV Unplugged pro-choice Nineties Magic Marker show but the mingling of art and politics is a time-honored conspiracy. The Web site Films to See Before You Vote (www.filmstoseebeforeyouvote.org) uses this old combination to "inform, inspire, and organize" voters before November's election. Functioning as a multimedia crash course in American politics and pop culture, the site facilitates access to potentially rousing film, TV, and music, and links visitors to tickets, trailers, and DVD shopping for politically oriented media. (For a literally rewarding and music-specific version of this philosophy, it also links to MustVote.com, a voter-incentive project offering free, exclusive music downloads in exchange for new-voter registration.) But the primary goal of Films to See Before You Vote is to spawn grassroots screening parties: "After each screening," outline the site's step-by-step guidelines, "consider the issues and how they relate to current political context." It's like movie day in eighth-grade history class. Watch Wag the Dog or any of the various films categorized by such issues as "The Media," "Iraq," and "Corporations," and put your thinking caps on. Between Michael Moore's record-breaking ballsiness and the recent proliferation of political films such as Control Room and Outfoxed, there's now a lot more to absorb before Nov. 2 than just Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.