Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

01 May 2008

Charlie Wilson's War, dir. Mike Nichols (2007)

NIKKI says:
Perhaps it's Aaron Sorkin's position in life to make complicated political language accessible to everyone? I thought this movie, based around Charlie Wilson's winning financial aid to assist Afghanistan in beating the invading Russians would go right over my head.

Instead, thanks to Sorkin's excellent technique of having characters talk politics as though they were discussing what's for lunch meant that few beats were missed on my side of the couch, and I managed to stay on top of events right the way through.

I'm glad, too, because this was a genuinely engaging piece of history. This and Under Fire have taught me more about politics in the early 1980s than any class at school. We see so many films and shows on the big wars -- Korean, Vietnam, even the Gulf. But we see so little about these other countries that struggle or have struggled to live freely.

Charlie Wilson's part in the Afghanistan/Russia issue was primarily to raise large amounts of cash to arm the Afghanis against the Russian attacks. He was inspired after seeing the poor manner in which the Afghanis were living in refugee camps and makeshift desert hospitals. It was something to see, this man used to strippers and wine and the best suites and cars suddenly in the middle of this poor country, talking to children without limbs, and families battling to stay alive.

Wilson remains stoic throughout his money-raising campaign, and uses his personality and gift of the gab to talk his way into getting what he wants -- something he never questions he'll be able to do. Tom Hanks is just excellent here. I'm going to have no trouble recommending this when it comes out on DVD here in a few months. Just a great drama, that sits, for me, alongside Lions for Lambs as the year's must-watch political films.


STEVE says:
The poster for this one did nothing for me. Not the biggest Hanks fan, ditto Julia Roberts. Philip Seymour Hoffman was interesting when only myself and four of my friends knew who he was, ("This is our concern, Dude") but now that he's Oscar-Winner Philip Seymour Hoffman, the shine is off. Bringing all three of them together for a movie called "Charlie Wilson's War" did nothing to raise my interest.

The I saw that it was a Mike Nichols film.


Written by Aaron Sorkin.


Okay, now you've got me interested.

I'm not one to pass up a Nichols film. He's right up there with Coppola, Scorsese and Woody Allen as one of the all-time American greats. And Sorkin... It took me a while to reconcile my mixed feelings for A Few Good Men (Brilliant Movie vs. Tom Cruise Sucks), but I eventually came to appreciate it based on the Whole instead of the Parts, and I believe that The West Wing will go down in history as one of the greatest shows ever to grace the airwaves.

Suddenly Charlie Wilson's War had a lot to live up to.

And it did. I enjoyed seeing Hanks play someone counter to his normal "nice guy" image, and was silently pleased when he used the word "fuck". Hoffman was typically Hoffman, but that's not a bad thing. And Sorkin's script and Nichols' direction kept me interested and wanting more all the way through.

And Julia Roberts... well, anyone could have played that part, to be honest, but I didn't roll my eyes every time she showed up, so that's gotta count for something.


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