January 7, 2008
ON THE ONE HAND, I COULD MAKE YOU FEEL OLD...:
Charlie Wilson's War (James Bowman, 1/7/2008, American Spectator)
It may at first seem surprising that Charlie Wilson's War, written by Aaron Sorkin ("The West Wing") and directed by Mike Nichols, is being slotted into the media's narrative about the box-office failure of a number of recent movies about the Iraq war. After all, this film is set decades ago and concerns itself with a completely different war, the one occasioned by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. No matter. According to the New York Times, "A mere whiff of more depressing headlines out of the Middle East may be enough to drive some people home to watch a DVD of the Yule log." That, in its view, is what happened to such movies as Lions for Lambs and Rendition. Yet if Charlie Wilson's War is successful, they've got an explanation for that too. It will show that "You can make a movie that is relevant and intelligent -- and palatable to a mass audience -- if its political pills are sugar-coated."
In other words, what doomed Lions for Lambs and Rendition was too much truth, not enough sugar-coating. Such a belief is itself a sugar-coating of the unpalatable truth that, in spite of Hollywood's best efforts, American audiences still like to see movies in which American forces are the good guys and they defeat America's enemies, who are the bad guys. By that measure, Charlie Wilson's War should do well.
...to have lived long enough that folks have become so silly as to suggest that defeating Communism wasn't worth some additional instability in a never stable region of the world. On the other, it happened so quickly that you can be fairly young and still remember that Afghanistan/western Pakistan was once a bloodbath when it was just a sideshow in the Long War and is now nowhere near bloody enough when it is the main event in the coda to that War. Charlie Wilson and company helped liberate hundreds of millions of people. When we finish off al Qaeda it will just remove an irritant. The prize was well worth the price. Posted by Orrin Judd at January 7, 2008 4:20 PM