Charlie Wilson’s War

| December 22, 2007

It is the early 1980’s and the Russian Empire is flexing its muscles by invading Afghanistan–which almost gets them to the Persian Gulf. All good God-loving, commie hating, red-white-and-blue Americans can see that with the Russians on the march, it could be domino time… Just like Vietnam. The trick is to fight the Russians without making it obvious that it is American money or weapons doing the damage. Charlie Wilson, the Congressman from the Second district of Texas is just the man to get that job done. Even if no one ever knows it is happening.
That is the premise behind Charlie Wilson’s War. The Mike Nichols directed, Aaron Sorkin penned political comedy which has been nominated for 5 Golden Globes (Golden Globe Best Motion Picture–Musical or Comedy; Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture–Musical or Comedy, Tom Hanks; Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, Philip Seymour Hoffman; Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, Julia Roberts; Best Screenplay–Motion Picture, Aaron Sorkin) which could possibly be on its way to an Oscar nod or two.
Hanks stars as Charlie Wilson, a congressman who knows that as long as his constituents get to keep their God and their guns, he has a job for life. He uses that lack of need in his district to vote YES a lot for other congressman and thereby amass more IOU’s than any other member of the House of Representatives. He has also used it to put himself onto some very powerful committees and direct money where he thinks it needs to be spent. In this case, to those locals in Afghanistan who would take on the Russians.
So with the urging of the 6th richest woman in East Texas (Julia Roberts playing Joanne Herring) who can provide two of the things he wants the most–sex with beautiful women and campaign finance–Wilson begins to put together the international deals which will get him the war he needs.
Helping him in his crusade (oooops, can’t use that word, can we), is CIA operative Gust Avrakotos (Philip Seymour Hoffman from Capote, Almost Famous, State and Main) who hooks him up with all sorts of unusual bed partners. Hoffman is in that group of actors who will, by their very presence in a movie, make it a “got to see.” In Charlie Wilson’s War, he is again, incredible. You will scream with laughter in his first scene with his CIA boss. It sets the tone and motivation for his character while letting you know exactly how smart he is. His first scene with Wilson is equally entrancing. But try not to laugh too hard or you will miss some of the fun. Similarly, watching Hanks and Roberts (Closer, Erin Brockovich) banter and bicker is also worth the price of admission.
The humor in this film should not take away from the serious message and important subject matter discussed by Sorkin and Nichols. What has happened and is happening in the swath of the world which stretches from Israel and Lebanon east across Iraq and on to Pakistan and India and contains one third of the human population is very serious. This is not a politically stable area and when we begin talking about the destructive power of the weapons then and now, there is the probability of negative implications for the entire world. As it is said in the film, and which is the main point of Charlie Wilson’s War, the message comes in the answer from the Zen master who when asked how things are going, is to add at the end of the sentence “So Far.” Things can change. And any of us can make them.
This is a Don’t Miss film.

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