Charlie Wilson's War(2008)
A comedy/drama based on the true story of Texan congressman Charlie Wilson's covert dealings in Afghanistan, directed by veteran Mike Nichols (The Graduate). "Good-Time Charlie" Wilson (Tom Hanks), a flawed and fun-loving Congressman from East Texas, deftly operates the levers of power to channel money and weapons to the Mujahedin of Afghanistan following the Soviet invasion of their country in late 1979. Charlie finds assistance in the oddest of places - a renegade CIA agent; a Houston socialite; a Pakistani dictator; the Israelis who modify and manufacture Soviet weapons; and a multitude of women.
BY Flicks Writer
Robert McNamara summed it up best: "Cold war? Hell, it was a hot war!" If you want a visceral illustration of the disparities explored in Charlie Wilson's War, you could do a lot worse than that gulf between cold – functional handshakes, photo-op smiles – and hot.
Because the hot in Charlie Wilson's War is a killing heat. Bodies are torn apart, war machines downed in operatic fervour. Wacked out on sunstroke, nobody can seem to tell their loving and their vengeful Gods apart anymore. The action sequences, intercuts of grainy-as-guts archival and pristine staged footage, meld together, the realities on the ground conflating with the media feed until it's all kinda lost in one deadly haze.
Walking straight down the middle of all these lines is our guy, the titular Mr. Wilson. This is where Aaron Sorkin's careful blend of researched grounding and theatrical playfulness blends with Hanks' unflagging affability to chuck Charlie into the realms of minor classic.
Hanks and Hoffman's characters anchor the picture’s fluctuating perspectives – here, there, then, now, us, them – with a kind of playful Zen mastery of their own discrepancies. It's not that Wilson is split between lecherous gadabout and Christian patriot, or Gust (Hoffman) between hair-trigger insubordinate and dutiful spook: it's that they somehow manage to leverage their own character flaws into serving their higher calling. If this sounds tricky on paper, just wait'll you see it happening a half-dozen times per scene.
The most widely-viewed account of America's covert incursion into the Afghan crisis was – ahem – Rambo III. That picture closes with a touchingly anachronistic title card: "This film is dedicated to the gallant people of Afghanistan". Charlie Wilson's War also ends with a title card: "We fucked it up in the endgame".
Which brings you right back to "Strange" McNamara: ain't hindsight a bitch?
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Charlie Wilson's War
I'd expect a lot more from Nichols (director). What happened to the cutting edge quality of The Graduate? Lost so many decades ago now I suppose.
As for Julia Roberts, she doesn't deserve mention except to say, this was a horrible casting decision on the part of the production and whatever large figure salary she was paid could have been better spent.Hide