Two Recent Movies about Afghanistan in War (or War in Afghanistan)
Lions for Lambs was somewhat of a disappointment for me. I started to write down snippets of the many faux pas that populated the movie as I was watching it but gave up after a little bit. I mean gave up both watching the movie and writing about it. Partly because as of late I am very non-committal to serious blogging and my writing is not in any good and presentable form, but also because the many blunders the movie makes about history and Afghanistan are so numerous and so ludicrous that any review will quickly transform into a laundry list of mistakes and transgressions…
But this review of the new movie Charlie Wilson’s War makes the movie sound like a blast. I cannot wait to see it. Tom Hanks. Julia Roberts. And that other character who is fast becoming one of my favorite Hollywood actors: Phillip Seymore Hoffman. And a tight story: “an elaborate scheme involving Israel, Pakistan, a belly dancer and a compliant House Subcommittee chairman…”
As the review puts it, there are far too many movies out there dealing with wars, middle east, Afghanistan and the broader Muslim world nowadays that suffer from a kind of self-righteous and pretentious pietism and somberness- perhaps even that most intolerable of traits in a Hollywood movie (and let’s remember, few watch Hollywood movies for their artistic rigor or sophistication – it’s all about the entertainment): i.e. preaching.
I picked up Crile’s book some time ago in a Virginia library but like many other books on Afghanistan it went right back to the library from my own overcrowded bookshelves. (At the time I was convinced that life was too short to spend reading and one should only go for the best ones among them – and then join the horde that writes the rest.) Anyhow, if A.O. Scott’s review is a good indication of the thrills of the movie, it is a must see depiction of the “high-living, hard-partying Jihad” that played out from Langley to Las Vegas and from Peshawar to Panjsher, and I sure hope I happen upon a pirated copy here soon.