In this doc, revisit the Iowa caucus, America's unique political proving ground


A.J. Schnack's vérité-style documentary takes us back to the heady days of 2011, when eight Republican presidential candidates made an assortment of gambits to win the votes of Iowa caucus-goers. From grudgingly eating a corn dog at the state fair (Mitt Romney) and singing (Herman Cain) to arriving perennially late (Michelle Bachman) and visiting every county in the state (Rick Santorum), it's a full roundup of retail politics at its most micro level. (Some events barely have a dozen attendees.) It's also a spectacle of a certain brand of politics, as these candidates scramble to win over an electorate — white, older, rural, conservative Christian — that hardly represents 21st century America. And yet for all the hoops jumped through, the victories are pyrrhic: Romney wins, then loses Iowa; Santorum wins Iowa but loses the nomination; Romney outlasts his way to the nomination but loses the big game. Two years from now, it all starts again, as Iowa exercises its outsized role in demanding that primary candidates suffer through a hundred greasy spoons and incoherent rants about taxes. In the credits, Schnack thanks his forbearers in political documentary, but there are enough bizarro-Americana scenes in here to remind one of Altman's Nashville. Starts Fri., Nov. 29. Harris


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