Friday, December 5, 2008

CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR (Mike Nichols, 2007, USA) Mike Nichols confuses the viewer with this “comedy” that is too close to the truth to be funny and not exaggerated enough to be satire. The film depicts our political system as ignorant and disconnected from the voters but seems to take this for granted, as if it’s OK and should be accepted. Charlie Wilson is everything despicable about American politics with his flamboyant excesses and vices…at the taxpayer’s expense. Tom Hanks brings his classic “everyman” likeableness but his character is no Mr. Smith. And Julie Roberts is typically bland and unconvincing as Joanne Herring, the woman who truly wields the political power (re: flaunts money) and convinces representative Doc Long to fund this “just war” against the Soviet Union. Wilson just has to trade votes with members of the ethics committee and they’re off and running towards their own selfish agendas…a big fuck you to Democracy. Philip Seymour Hoffman is churlish as the FBI agent who oversees the project but even he can’t make this film entertaining. Nichols could have made a militant parody, an over-the-top production that skewers American policy and politics but instead chooses the conservative route. He delivers a mild mannered derivative docu-drama that fails to navigate the moral morass of its narrative and sheds no light on the current war in Iraq by way of learning from our mistakes. If you are in the mood for a good political satire, rent BOB ROBERTS. (D)

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