Thursday, January 24, 2008

Going to the Movies

Every year this happens—my husband and I get behind on going to the movies. We like movies, and we especially enjoy watching the Oscars (will there be a broadcast of the awards this year?). So in advance of that occasion, we try to see the leading contenders in best picture, and best actor and actress category. But every year, we get behind.

Why, you might ask. Well, we are also fans of watching football, and until the games are over, including the play-offs, we tend to suspend other extra-curricular activities. We stay at home on Saturdays (if we aren’t going to Penn State games) and on Sundays, and watch football. So, no movies. True—we could go sometime during the week, but one of us works too long hours to be able to do that. Hint—it isn’t me.

So, this past weekend, we went to see three (count them 1. . .2. . .3) movies. First, we saw Charlie Wilson’s War, then Atonement, and the following day No Country for Old Men. Mind—this foray into movie land all took place BEFORE the announcement for this year’s Oscar nominations. As soon as There Will Be Blood comes to town—we’re there, too. (Oh, it just got in).

And now for some observations on our movie feast. I liked them all. Charlie Wilson’s War was my least favorite, although it is probably the most enjoyable. Remember, I am one of those loopy English major types—always searching for hidden meaning, for symbolism, for character development. So, even though I would rank it third, it was fun to see.

Charlie Wilson’s War is a straight-forwardly told tale of a real life congressman from Texas who gets a fire in his belly over the horrific excesses of the Soviet Union invading Afghanistan. Charlie Wilson, played by Tom Hanks, is a hard-partying, divorced, boozing womanizing Democratic congressman. He does, however, have a wealthy benefactor (and sometime love interest) played by Julia Roberts. Primarily for Christian principles, it seems, she is determined to help arm rebel factions in Afghanistan to fight off the Soviets. The deus ex machine who comes to their aid is a quirky troublesome CIA agent named Gust Avrakotos, played wonderfully by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who has all the right connections to help arm the rebels.

There are some fun scene that draw on history, including one where Charlie Wilson goes to Pakistan and meets with the then
President Zia Ul-Haq (this is the man who was primarily responsible for having Benazir Bhutto’s father judged and hanged). Wilson asks for a tall drink of scotch or bourbon; there is a pained silence until it dawns on him—and he is outright told—that no alcohol is kept in the Presidential palace in a Muslim country.

Of course, we know the ending—the rebels did in fact defeat the Soviets. Charlie Wilson won his war. But he also lost it. One of the closing scenes of the movie is Charlie Wilson trying to persuade a congressional committee to allocate $1 million to rebuild schools in Afghanistan. Predictably, he is ignored. The cautionary (and very obvious) message is that Congress happily funds in the millions various war efforts but does not fund building infrastructure. And, today, we know the consequences—the rebels included (though never named or identified in the movie) Osama Bin Laden, and future Taliban leaders. And now we are fighting a protracted war in Afghanistan just as the Soviets did.

Next time, Atonement and then No Country for Old Men.

See you at the movies.


Dorothy said...

Hi Donna,

My hubby and I also enjoy the movies very much. You should be a movie critic! What a great critique you wrote of Charlie Wilson's war. I am looking forward to reading your other move critiques as well.
We saw Atonement, but have not yet seen No Country For Old Men.

Yes, I'm baack! Thanks for visiting my blog again!
Re: the round Christmas Cactus, I was wondering the same thing. That one must be some exotic variety that isn't readily available at Lowe's or Home Depot. :o)

Take care...

Mary said...


Neither of us are movie-goers, as a matter of fact, I don't think my husband has gone to a movie since he took Gina in elementary school. Back in the 70's and 80's we tired of movie going...

I see few at the theatres and if I go soon, I'll see a chick flick with Gina, like "27 Dresses". Oh, well.

I would love to see Charlie Wilson's War and I might persuade Gina to see it instead of 27 Dresses. Sounds like a wonderful story and the added bonus is that I just love Tom Tanks and Julia Roberts.

Thanks for the review!!!! (you critic, you.)

JeanMac said...

Look forward to your review on Atonement.

nina at Nature Remains. said...

We're more the stay-at-home variety of movie-watcher, waiting until it's released on DVD to watch from the couch.
And there are so many that are less than worth the time, that making a "date" to watch one is a rarity.

I'm looking forward to your thoughts on the next 2--I've heard they're great....maybe I should live dangerously and try one?

Anonymous said...

I haven't been to a movie in the theater since Pirates I, so I'm about due. Thanks for the reviews!

dmmgmfm said...

Thanks for the recommendations! I can also recommend "Across the Universe" for anyone that likes Beatles songs. It's a great flick in my view.


Anvilcloud said...

I've seen Atonement and liked it a lot, so I'll look forward to your review.

dguzman said...

I'm looking forward to watching this movie, and your review is great!