Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Jason watches "Charlie Wilson's War"

My final movie of 2007, I saw this with my brother Ryan in Fairbanks--the farthest north I've ever seen a movie (64°50'11.75"N, according to Google Earth).

Anyway, this movie has a lot going for it. For instance, if there are two things I want to see in a movie about the covert CIA operations in Afghanistan, it's tits. The story of the hard-drinking, hard partying Congressman from Texas is pretty interesting. Even the fact that he's embroiled in ethics scandals is played to his advantage--if you give the press strippers and coke, they won't notice the arming of Afghan rebels forces. But he knows the game well, sits on the right committees, and is owed many favors, so over the course of the movie he moves the CIA Afghanistan budget from $5M to $500M--with matching money from Saudi Arabia. He even gets an Israeli arms dealer to work with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan to provide Soviet weapons to the Afghans (so that it won't appear that the US is providing weapons). Tom Hanks does a fine job in this role. And Philip Seymour Hoffman is great as Gust Avrakotos, the intelligent-but-undiplomatic CIA officer who provides the brains to put Charlie Wilson's money to good work. In fact, Hanks and Hoffman have better chemistry than Hanks and Julia Roberts--the wealthy Texas patron who pushes Charlie Wilson to get more involved in Afghanistan (introduces him to the President of Pakistan, holds fund raisers, etc.). She does a pretty good job, but is just outshined by the other actors. And finally, Amy Adams does a fine job as the Congressman's personal assistant--obviously hired for her looks, but still a professional in every way.

Overall, it's a pretty good movie, and while it does throw in a message at the end about us not finishing the end game ($1B to kill Russians, but not even $1M to build some schools), the moral comes off as pretty perfunctory after all the enthusiasm over killing Russians.

And that's the end of 2007, hope everyone has a happy 2008.

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