Thursday, December 27, 2007

Talk about things you like to do

Long ago, when my sister was working for a movie theater, my family discovered that such places are open on Christmas Day and began a now long-standing tradition of going to see a movie after the festivities die down each Christmas afternoon. For some reason, we also started going to see the latest fantasy movie, so The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter kept us busy for quite some time.

The husband and I were going to follow suit this year but were hampered by a few hitches: one, he was working on Christmas Day. Two, we had thought to see The Golden Compass as our fantasy fare, but by the time this week rolled around, that movie had been relegated to two showings at odd times at one theater far away from here, so no such luck. However, we persevered and were able to go see Charlie Wilson's War last night (see, I told you I'd see it!).

A caveat for my Mormon readers: this is not, I repeat NOT the movie for you. There is quite a bit of gratuitous nudity and cleavage shots and a lot, I repeat a LOT of heavy duty swearing, most of which nudity and swearing occurs in the first 15 minutes or so but doesn't really dissipate. Wilson truly was a "colorful" character. So consider yourselves forewarned and forearmed (is that right...? it sounds odd.)

That being said, it was a pretty nifty flick. Happily, Tom Hanks was never bullied into speaking at the speed of light by Sorkin's dialogue, so you could actually understand what was being said most of the time (Philip Seymour Hoffman, on the other hand, did drop his joke-a-second lines a little too swiftly at times, leaving most of the fairly advanced in age audience wondering what was going on). The movie is set in the early 80s and revels in the late 70s-ness of the early 80s, so there is much philandering and pandering and drinking and drug-doing and hair feathering. But it is all entertaining, on many levels. Julia Roberts was honey-tongued and bleached-blonde and did a quite serviceable job as well. And there was Amy Adams, who is apparently in every movie currently playing at the cineplex this season.

Indeed, and I can't believe I am writing this, my only complaint with the movie is that when Sorkin got to his point (about the fact that our covert helping of the Afghans against the Soviets and then our abandonment of them entirely led us to our current situation in Afghanistan), he made the point so, dare I say it?, subtly and quickly, I really wished he had written just a bit more to make sure his audience was really with him. It was almost as if he were exercising some kind of heretofore unknown restraint in writing and not hitting the viewers over the head with his (admittedly terribly important) point. In fact, getting there at all required the audience to do a lot of inference on its own. Again, this turn of events was so very not Sorkin that I was totally perplexed by it.


mtg said...

you know, that's what we liked about it. it was fairly subtle. but only sort of. in fact, that point screamed through the whole film at me, and i thought even the very little that he did wasn't entirely necessary. i thought that point all the more powerful for being implicit throughout rather than made into a blunt object for battering people about the head (see studio 60) (which i liked a lot more than anyone else on earth, but then of course i did). i am hoping it's out on DVD by early spring so i can teach it next term. that is, it's subtle enough to leave something to talk about in the classroom, and that's a lovely use of everyone's brain. hooray for brain use and hooray for aaron sorkin. that said, almost all the reviews i read seemed to miss the point horrifyingly, which is a) surprising and b) appalling and c) weird. still, brain use wins out over spoon feeding, and, as an aside, poor aaron can't win for losing (or however that saying goes). everyone complained studio 60 was too heavy handed, but when he doesn't scream it from the rooftops, NO ONE GETS IT. and this one seemed obvious to me from the previews.

Lilita said...

well yes, clearly, hooray for brain use, but I guess I am just a little suspicious of the tendency toward a lack of brain use in the audience (which your discussion of the reviews missing the point would seem to bear out). Oh Sorkin, you really do have a hard row to hoe, I'll admit!