Sunday, January 13, 2008

Charlie Wilson's War: Flawed Man's Journey


I saw Charlie Wilson's War last night and I was moderately surprised. Since it's a Mike Nichols film (Nichols has yet to disappoint me), I had hidden hopes for it.

Other than the sex, drugs, and war motif, Nichols features something else: Philip Seymour Hoffman. Hoffman plays a CIA operative named Gust Avrakotos and he steals every scene in which he finds himself. There are few roles in which Hoffman does not manage to shine; this is not one of them. His screen dynamics with Tom Hanks et al., were appealing and the fast-paced dialog between the two oozed humor and intelligence. Hoffman is the kind of actor who makes all in his presence look bearable, including Julia Roberts.
Overall, I would say Charlie Wilson's War delivers.
Here are some quotes I remember from last night's viewing:

1) Can we just take a moment to reflect on all of the ways that you are a douche bag?

2)You know you've reached rock bottom when you're told you have character flaws by a man who hanged his predecessor in a military coup.

3) Charlie Wilson: You're no James Bond.
Gust Avrakotos: You're no Thomas Jefferson, either. Let's call it even.

13 comments:

Eric said...

He-he-he. The douche bag comment alone is reason enough for me to get myself to the theater and watch this. Thx, Bri.

Will said...

Finally a culturally relevant movie. I liked it.

dave said...

could you a bit less non-committal and tell me if you liked this?
ok, Hoffman is fine in it but is the story worth anything?
Danke!
dave

Becca said...

I can think of plenty other ways in which one could unwisely spend two hours. Based on the quotes alone, it sounds like an ok film to watch. So, whether I find the post non-committal or whatever, that's reason enough for me to decide to go see it.
How's that, Dave?

B.R. said...

Dave:
Less non-committal? I'm not entirely sure I understand the question but as Becca points out, there are different things that make a text worth a read. In my mind, Charlie W.'s War is no 'Closer' or 'The Graduate.' That Nichols has done better work in the past is obvious to me. So, I am not recommending the film on account of its high cinematic value. I'm recommending it on account of Hoffman's playing. And Sorkin's writing isn't that bad either. It's a relevant film, yes. And I try to reward relevance with my attention. Is this a less non-committal answer?

Rich said...

The film presents easily recognizable cultural signs, hence, it delivers.
Don't most of us, for the most part, respond well to familiarity?

Dimitri said...

the movie was dumbed down to appeal to the masses. To avoid compunction, the filmmakers chose to dehumanize the Soviet troops. Che pecato, the movie could have been more nuanced and thought-provoking.

B.R. said...

Yes, hence, [dave, this could also be targeting one of your questions, perhaps?] the lack of focus on a 'reading' of the film and its content but rather of its form, ie., Hoffman's playing.

It did feel more like hero-worship and while Hanks generally seems to be in roles that worship the hero, albeit in this case a somewhat likable, fallible hero, the lines could have been sharper and less emotionalized?
Yes, on the form,
Not so much on content....

Andy G. said...

I'd use the word 'peccato' here too. I concur with the science man!

liam. said...

i agree with the hoffman stealing the show idea. my mother and i discussed that exact sentiment after viewing the film for my grandmother's birthday last month. he really sold that film for me.

as for this line, "Can we just take a moment to reflect on all of the ways that you are a douche bag?" i was a little disappointed by this line because i don't think "douchebag" was a commonly used insult at the time. i meant to research that, actually, but i forgot. thanks for reminding me. if i find anything out about it, i'll post again. i just don't like it when period pieces (yes the 80's are now a period in my book) use non-period language, references, props, etc...

liam. said...

i stand corrected... according to wikipedia...

Douche bag, or simply douche, is considered to be a pejorative term in Australia, the United States, Canada and New Zealand. The slang usage of the term dates back to the 1960s.[6] The metaphor of identifying a person as a douche is intended to associate a variety of negative qualities, specifically arrogance and malice.[7]

B.R. said...

Liam:
Thanks for the explanation. I just had a conversation about its contextual use with someone (which discussion was prompted by your post) and their point was that, yes, it pre-dates the 80's.

B.R. said...

Liam:
My associate just sent me this link re: SNL's use of the word 'douche'....
http://snltranscripts.jt.org/79/79tdouchebag.phtml