Resolutions 2015: Charlie Wilson’s War

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I do believe it’s time for more Resolutions! Today’s guest is a relative newcomer to this blog. This is actually his first time partaking in one of my series, too, so be sure to give a big welcome to Steven of Past, Present, Future in TV and Film! Steven’s got a great site that pretty much says it all in the title–he covers movie and TV from all different eras, getting you pumped up about old favorites, current popular stuff, and all the goodness to come. Go give his site a look! But before you do that, let’s see what he has to say about his resolution film!

Recently: “Charlie Wilson’s War”

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As has been shown time and again, film doesn’t serve to just take us to fantastical lands and allow for us to escape the real world. No, it sometimes has a hand in bringing events from long ago, to the forefront of people’s minds. Allowing the masses to be entertained while all at once getting a history lesson more suitable for school.

The Universal Pictures film “Charlie Wilson’s War”, gives you plenty for a history lesson, but also makes sure to bring the fun. Lots and lots of fun.

This political comedy-drama stars Tom Hanks (“Saving Mr. Banks”, “Captain Phillips”), Julia Roberts (“The Normal Heart”, “August: Osage County”), Philip Seymour Hoffman (“Doubt”, “Capote”), Amy Adams (“Big Eyes”, “Lullaby”), Ned Beatty (“Baggage Claim”, “The Big Ask”), Emily Blunt (“Into the Woods”, “Edge of Tomorrow”), Om Puri (“The Hundred-Foot Journey”, “Policegiri”), Ken Stott (“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”, “The Missing”), John Slattery (“Mad Men”, “Arrested Development”), and Denis O’Hare (“American Horror Story”, “The Pyramid”).

The film is directed by Mike Nichols (“Closer”, “Angel’s in America”) and written by Aaron Sorkin (“The Newsroom”, “Moneyball”). It is based on the book “Charlie Wilson’s War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History”, by George Crile.

The film originally opened on Dec. 21, 2007. It would go on to be nominated for one Academy Award, and five Golden Globe Awards among other nominations and wins.

I’m still at it! Fortunately this takes care of a few things on my to-do list. In a year of new beginnings, not only was this my first film of the year, but it also marks a long term goal, watch another Nichols film and the penultimate thing, of the things I haven’t seen, of Sorkin’s. Normally this wouldn’t mean anything, but it’s been a work in progress for some time.

It’s a smart and complicated film. There’s lots of history to absorb and issues, more like issue, but so much stuff that overlaps, that it requires you to pay more attention than usual. It’s fun because of the politics (at least for me), and definitely makes it more than just some fluff film about a man that liked to have a good time.

Now the characters are something else altogether. Along with being difficult to describe (really difficult), each one, of the principle three, are played so well by Hanks, Roberts and Hoffman. Don’t get me wrong, all the supporting actors, including Adams, who had a bit more than some of the others, were good too, but they’re not where the story lies. That’s with the three leads.

You have a Congressman, a socialite, and a CIA officer, coming together to help keep Afghanistan communist free during the Cold War. It’s because these characters are all so different, but have a common interest, that makes this film so engaging and fun. It’s also such an interesting story about how three, more or less, ordinary people, come together and made a major difference, that ultimately helps lead to the end of the Cold War. If it hadn’t been for the little action being taken by the U.S., then these three may not have become so passionate about this.

What’s also interesting, when it comes to characters, is that because these three, and the others, are so fun to watch, you don’t really need growth. This isn’t really a character film in any way. If it was, you’d probably not find yourself liking, in the least, Hanks’ Charlie Wilson. No, this is a film with characters, but it’s about what they achieve, which is also what allows for there to be tiny bits of character development, but really no need for anything major.

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As this is a period piece, you can’t really avoid looking at the detail put into bringing this time to life. Everything you can possibly think of, clothing, eyewear, desks, chairs, other various office items, etc., all are on display to get you to feel like you’re there in the ‘80s. It’s different too, as there are seldom films set in the ‘80s, as opposed to simply finding clothes and what passed for set decorations, in the ‘80s.  Even when the film takes you to other countries, you’re there. There’s never a moment that doesn’t feel authentic and lend itself to the time.

As mentioned above, this is the work of Sorkin. A very clever writer when given the right subject. I feel I’m incredibly biased, as I’ve yet to truly dislike something he’s had a hand in creating. Even “Moneyball” was good to watch, but confusing and hard to get behind as it’s about sports, specifically baseball, something I know very little about. Here, while a familiar topic (politics), it’s still able to stand on its own. There may be real life people portrayed, and historical events shown, but there’s plenty, more likely than not, created to allow for these people to be characters inspired by someone, instead of caricatures. It’s completely Sorkin, including some of the recycled dialogue that pops up from time to time. If you’re a fan of his, history, and politics, then this will certainly appeal to you.

While this film is a very well made and fun film, it doesn’t have any qualities that make it truly stand out. This also explains, when I think on it, the sole nomination of Hoffman when it came to the Academy Awards. But, either way, it’s still an exciting experience. It’s real life, not made up. Much like a version of the film’s poster says, “You think we could make this up?” I’ll admit it does seem made up, but somehow, probably because it isn’t, it’s all the more compelling. I found that I wanted to just stay with these people and find out what had to be done next, in order to make their goal a reality, which is funny, as I already know from the film’s beginning, that this personal “war”, is successful.

Historical films are tricky. You have the historical figures to contend with and the fact that you need it to be entertaining enough to warrant it being a film in the first place. Some films can’t succeed at this, but others manage quite well, and the world is a better place because of it. Here, I truly feel more knowledgable based solely on this film. Like the stars of the movie, according to the special features on the DVD, I didn’t know anything about this real life event, or people, prior to this film. Now I do, and I owe it all to the power of film.

Thanks so much, Steven! Always nice when you can have fun and learn a little something, too, huh? I call that a pretty good film resolution. 🙂

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