Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thoughts about "Lions for Lambs"

Based on a single positive review, I went to go see the new film "Lions for Lambs" in the theaters. Although I missed the last third of the film due to an audio failure in the theatre, most of the rest of the film wasn't all that bad. Here are some thoughts about it.
  • The first thing one notices about the film is the attention to detail required to make Tom Cruise look like Republican Senator Jasper Irving. There is the obligatory lapel pin indicating his personal, daily political sentiment to the observing public (I blame Madeleine Albright for this), there is the vaguely flag-like red, white, and blue striped tie, and there is the important Southern hair. Apparently it was also necessary to give Tom Cruise non-lethal doses of Joker gas to broaden his grin into a full-head beamer.

  • The particular saga of the two college students, Ernest and Arian, who go from political science classes to being stranded on a winter mountain plateau in Afghanistan, could have easily made a great movie all on its own. The highlight of their backstory is a flashback to their college political science class presentation, which in a fairly obvious parallel to their Afghanistan prediciment involves them getting "sniped" at with half-baked questions and comments from the bored college students in the audience. Arian and Ernest managed to hold their own in the debate that their presentation provokes by resorting to the movie's default mode of political argument: cant.

  • Probably the most stupid argument that I saw in the movie came from Meryl Street's character, journalist Janine Roth, during her interview of the Republican Senator. Very roughly speaking the argument goes something like this:
    Senator: I have a new plan for winning the war in Afghanistan.
    Journalist: I think it's more important that we talk about the mistakes that were made.
    Senator: Yes, mistakes were made. Really bone-headed mistakes. Let's talk about the new plan now.
    Journalist: You already admitted to mistakes. How do you know that this new plan isn't a mistake?
    The one true pleasure of this movie is watching Senator Irving grow visibly more annoyed with this type of inane questioning while trying to hide the fact that he thinks she is a half-witted dingbat.


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