Friday, July 11, 2008

#24 "Charlie Wilson's War," bin Laden, Bush, and God

The 2007 film, Charlie Wilson's War (arriving at my movie screen as always via Netflix), was eminently watchable but disappointing on two levels. First of all, not so disappointingly, it was a busy, busy movie. Frenetic, colorful, ever-shifting mis en scene. From Houston hot-tub to Congress to Afghanistan and back again, it never lingered on an event or setting for more than 3-4 minutes in its 2-hr span. Interesting menagerie of characters (Ned Beatty always delivers). And you always get your money's worth with a Phillip Seymour Hoffman performance (my favorite: State and Main), no matter the picture. (But then again I'm perhaps too easily pleased at a $9.95 a month, one-at-a-time unlimited membership.) As a complete film though, it fails. The other two leads, Hanks and Julia Roberts, are miscast or somehow mis-scripted. Roberts has little depth as an actress, and Hanks (beloved since "Bosom Buddies"), whose best roles involve bringing an interesting and deep consistency to (mainly consistent) characters (in e.g. Gump and Priv. Ryan), just can't get me to believe in the multi-obsessive and contradictory Wilson. The narrative arc of the film is also severely compromised by history. No suspense. There are little glitches along the way toward Charlie's ultimate goal, enough to satisfy a bit of agon here and there, but we KNOW the outcome already. And this leads me to the other level of CWW's failure. Call it "meta-filmic"--the movie is again fatally compromised by history, leaving us with a very sad and sour taste about our foreign policies then and today. But more about that tomorrow.

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