Posted by: cueballcol | January 16, 2008

Review: CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR

Well, we’re 16 days into good ol’ 2008 and I can now carve my first cinema notch on my belt of, er, celluloid or something. (Note to self: Plan your metaphors, dammit, and isn’t it bedposts you carve notches on ? What’s the one for a belt ? Adding a tool ? Answers on a postcard). Well, that first notch/tool turns out to not be No Country For Old Men, previewing tonight at preciesly every cinema across the land apart from the mighty Kettering Odeon (not to be confused with Kettering, Ohio). Instead, I have just got back from seeing Charlie Wilson’s War starring Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams and directed by Mike Nichols (Working Girl).

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Now, first off, you know you’ve not just sat down to for the next Scary Moive installment when every film trailer that precedes the feature presentation doesn’t star Tommy Lee Jones, or Susan Sarandon, or Jack Nicholson, or Morgan Freeman. No sir, these films star Academy Award Winning(where the fuck is the little R in a circle on this keyboard?) Tommy Lee Jones and Academy Award Winning(R) Jack Nicholson, etc. It always cracks me up when you get AAW(R) Al Pacino then AAW(R) Meryl Streep then AAW(R) Robin Williams then Jason Priestly. Poor fucker must have something in the cupboard they can put before his name so he doesn’t look like a chump after all those AAW(R)s. Y’know, Bronze Swimming Certificate Holder(R) Jason Priestly or Gemini Awards Best Performance or Host in a Variety Program or Series Nominee(R) Jason Priestly, abit of consideration for those not considered is all I’m asking.

Where was I ? Charlie Wilson’s War. I’m not too sure how to approach a review of a film like this, being a based on a true story type of deal like Erin Brockovich and Ghost Rider. It deals with issues and politics that I’m not sufficiently aware of to contradict all that is presented to me over the refreshingly short running time. This isn’t to say that I walk into a cinema expecting a dyed in the wool fact history lesson. Just you show me the transcripts of Russian pilots discussing their relationships as they calmly mow down whole villages of Afghan women and children. All I can say is that the depiction of Russians in this film left me a little uneasy. There is a montage section showing the jubilant celebrations of the mujahadeen blowing up numerous Russian helicopters, along with a running total of destruction over a number of time periods, that seemed unnecessary to me. I might have missed it, but there was no explanation of what Russia was doing invading Afghanistan in the first place. Maybe I should’ve done my research or something beforehand, I don’t know, I just wasn’t sure who I should be rooting for and the depiction of the evils of communism seemed overplayed.

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So, how am I to approach this ? The only way I can do it due to my aforementioned ignorance is as a piece of filmic entertainment. Here, it gets some good marks for being both a film and an entertaining one. Tom Hanks puts in a solid performance, the only bum note (which may be the fault of the script rather than Hanks) coming with a phonecall to a newly married Julia Roberts where he gets a little teary, implying a greater depth to his feelings for the southern belle than had been previously set out. Julia Roberts, with a more limited screentime, is alright but slightly overshadowed by a more subtle turn from Amy Adams. Then you have Phillip Seymour Hoffman. What’s the deal with this guy ? Is he allergic to a bad performance or something ? You look forward to every minute of his screentime and his interplay with Hanks provides most of the funny highlights of the film. To be frank, this is getting a bit boring now. C’mon Hoffman, would it kill you to phone it in for once ? Maybe sign up for the first script you piss on blindfolded (aka The Henriksen Manoeuver).

To sum up (that’s right, I’m summing up after talking more about the trailers and Jason Priestly than the plot of the film, sue me) I enjoyed the film as an enjoyable film but felt a little uneasy about the politics and whatnot. I guess it’s a bit like Hoffman’s little boy and the horse and the wiseman analogy at the end, I enjoyed it now, but maybe I’ll go off and read some stuff like this and then retrospectively not enjoy it so much, I’ll just wait and see. Er, not really much like his analogy at all there, I’ll just stay here on the fence for now.

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