Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

17 January 2008

It's Like a Cartoon... with Real People

Last night Julie and I went to go see Charlie Wilson's War, the new Mike Nichols movie. I didn't hate it, really, but I disliked it rather a lot.
For one thing, the subject matter is really silly. It's also really cheesy and the attitude the film takes is a kind of ironic distance from its subject matter. This is supposed to be clever and funny and in keeping with the main character's personality (Congressman Wilson is a notorious womanizer and drinker). The thing is, the subject matter is actually really important, and Charlie Wilson's War's attitude is that the whole situation is a kind of football game, where the stakes aren't really that high. At one point a character even says "Let's kill some Russians!" It's hard for me to get excited about something like that.
It isn't just that the film is rather dumbed down (and kinda racist in the way that it makes all nations in the middle east seem like the exact same country). The whole thing also looks like it was made on the cheap. There are way more interiors than there ought to be for a movie of this type, and it feels strange and claustrophobic. At one point I even noticed painted drops substituting for decorated rooms near the end of the film. REALLY? They couldn't afford a set? It's a movie with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman!
The acting is fine, I guess. Hanks is good, as usual. Julia Roberts' accent goes in and out. I know Philip Seymour Hoffman is being bumped around as a Supporting Actor candidate for Oscar, but I don't see why. It's not even that flashy of a performance. His work in The Savages is much, much better.
Anyway, I didn't dig this movie. It made me uncomfortable, and it's just not that smart. It's actually more like a living cartoon than anything else.