Monday, November 8, 2010

Charlie Wilson's War (2007)

Aaron Sorkin wrote Charlie Wilson's War and, as far as I'm concerned, Aaron Sorkin can do no wrong. Having said that, this was not my favorite Aaron Sorkin work.

Normally, screenwriters treat their audience as though they are dumb. They explain everything in great detail, often times, more than once. They make sure even the dimmest amongst us will not get lost so everyone can pay their money and enjoy the movie. Aaron Sorkin does not, and never has, written this way. From Sports Night to The Social Network, he treats his audience as intelligent individuals. And I greatly admire and appreciate that.

However. Charlie Wilson's War is about what's going on in the middle east during The Cold War. Guess what I know about what happened in the middle east during The Cold War. Zilch.

It's not that the movie was difficult to follow - as a story, all the parts were there. But as someone who is bringing nothing to the table in terms of previous knowledge, I felt uninvested and disconnected. Tom Hanks was just as perfect as he always is and Phillip Seymour Hoffman was brilliant as well. But the far reaching ramifications of what's going on - or even what the world was really like while it was going on in the first place - did not hit home with me.

There is one moment during the end of the film when Tom Hanks loses a fight to get schools built in Afghanistan. It is a glimmer of why Afghanistan becomes the hostile place we see on the nightly news today. Of why, after having defeated the Russians, things do not improve. That moment spoke to a citizen of 2010. I wish more moments had.

This was in no way a bad movie. Nothing Aaron Sorkin writes will ever be bad. I have such high expectations going into a story with Aaron Sorkin attached, if I'm not blown out of the water, I am disappointed. Usually, I am blown out of the water. This one time, I was not.

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