Wednesday, December 26, 2007
CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR
Charlie Wilson's War is an excellent film about the way that Congress came to back a large, covert CIA operation in Afghanistan, funding the Mujahideen rebels against the Soviets, through the efforts of Congressman Charles Wilson.
Acting by Julia Roberts, Tom Hanks (who actually looks something like Charlie Wilson), and Philip Seymour Hoffman is excellent. The film was written by Aaron Sorkin (who currently also has The Farnsworth Invention on Broadway) and directed by Mike Nichols, based on a book by George Crile.
It is superb story telling, based on things that really happened: the film takes advantage of the star power of the actors; their skill; Aaron Sorkin's brilliance at writing political drama; Mike Nichols sense of humor; and the fact that Charlie Wilson was both a colorful, drinking, ladies man, and a liberal congressman from Texas.
Politically, the film gently encourages us to root for the Mujahideen against the Russians; and suggests that the withdrawal of the Russians from Afghanistan was a factor in the break-up of Soviet Communism; then, still gently, it reminds us of how the US failure to rebuild Afghanistan after the war helped lead to the rise of the Taliban. It suggests that we must fight one war at a time, but we need to continue to do what is necessary at the end of a war. (This could be taken to suggest that in Iraq we need to stay and rebuild that country. Of course, the current debate is not about whether or not we should successfully rebuild Iraq, but whether our present actions are going to help or hinder that process.)
The film is fun, well made and interesting. It's basically a caper movie, where the caper is secretly funding a war.