"Charlie Wilson's War"
Directed by Mike Nichols.
Written by Aaron Sorkin.
Starring Tom Hanks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Julia
Release Year: 2007
Review Date: 12/4/07
Although this film won't force me to watch
"The West Wing" on DVD, even I have to admit that the writing
abilities of Aaron Sorkin are excellent, if the new film "Charlie
Wilson's War" is any indication.
Tom Hanks plays Congressman Charlie Wilson,
a womanizing rep from Texas who loves booze, profanity, a nice set
of knockers and working for the US government when we meet him in
1980. One night while entertaining strippers and a Playboy
model at a hotel suite in Vegas, Wilson gets into a Dan Rather CBS
News report from Afghanistan detailing the ongoing war between the
Afghani people and the Russians. This, combined with meetings
in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Israel stemming from Wilson's
relationship with the sixth-wealthiest woman in Texas, Joanne
Herring (Julia Roberts), lead Wilson to decide to use his power
within a government subcommittee to do one single thing: help the
Afghanis shoot down a bunch of Russian helicopters. With help
from CIA analyst Gust Avrakotos (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Wilson
sets off to raise money to covertly raise arms money for the people
of Afghanistan to fight the Russian army.
"Charlie Wilson's War", based on a true
story, is a fantastic mix of comedy and drama; in telling a story
about how small government can be if decisionmakers hold the keys to
the kingdom, Sorkin seems to be very comfortable as we squeak
through a lot of potential logistical nightmares to just focus on
Wilson, Avrakotos, women, and surface-to-air missiles. The
film is laugh-out-loud funny a few times, but generally, it is
amusing, and that works well given the context of this story.
Hoffman's first scene alone seems to ensure he will get an Oscar nom
for this performance, but the guy just gets better and better all
the time and his character--not even sure if he's a real guy or
not--balances the Wilson character well. Hanks is great, and
Roberts (she hasn't been onscreen since
Twelve" three years ago) makes you remember what made her such a
star back in the day; even now, her awkward beauty plays well with
her strong presence to good effect here, because her character only
shows up a few times throughout "Charlie Wilson's War."
I think that this film is an A-, not an A+,
in that it didn't make me run out of the theater thinking that I
should call everyone I know to tell them to see this right now.
(Of course, you couldn't do that anyway, since this doesn't come out
until Christmas.) But, as solid adult entertainment goes, I
think that "Charlie Wilson's War" is great stuff and will be a
contender come Oscar time.
Rating: Opening Weekend
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard