Charlie Wilson’s War

When I was in 12th grade, we spent the second semester of our US Government class as a Mock Congress. At the time, the Democrats controlled Congress, and since I wanted to be in a position of “power”, I chose to play the role of a Democrat so that I could be Majority Whip. And because I wanted to do a good job, I researched the Democratic positions of the time and found, much to my surprise, that I agreed with them — and I’ve been a Democrat ever since.

That was an effective civics lesson.

Today, we went to see Charlie Wilson’s War, an even more effective civics lesson, and one based on a true story, with dialog improved by Aaron Sorkin. Charlie Wilson represented the 2nd Congressional District of Texas. He was not the kind of Congressman held up as a role model in my Government class — the film opens with him in a hot tub, with a couple of strippers and a Playboy model, along with booze and drugs. But somehow, he had sufficient concentration to watch a “60 Minutes” report on Afghanistan that happened to be on, and, since he also happened to be on the committee which controlled funding for covert CIA operations, he decided to do something to help the brave Afghan fighters.

That something involved trips into dangerous beds as well as dangerous country, wheeling, dealing, and probable violation of several laws — and, at the same time, he was being investigated on drug allegations.

I was completely consumed by the movie, even though I knew how it would end. I don’t think they’ll make the sequel — it would be too depressing.


Guilt is entirely optional

I tried to watch the 2005 version of The Producers tonight. The original movie was one of the first laserdiscs we ever bought, and it’s still one of my favorite movies.

I’d put the 2005 version on my Netflix queue some time ago, and it’s been sitting here for a week or so, waiting for me to get the necessary round tuit. Tonight was the night; I knew this version had been panned, but I really wasn’t expecting quite so much padding. I kept comparing Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick to Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder and finding them lacking (though I must admit that Uma Thurman was up to Lee Meredith’s standards).

I stuck with the movie for about 30 minutes, then started making heavy use of the remote control to get to the good parts — well, good part. “Springtime for Hitler” was certainly worth watching, but then the movie went off the rails again.

If I’d bought the DVD, I’d feel like an idiot. If I’d paid to rent it, I’d’ve felt obligated to see the whole thing. But since I got it from Netflix, all I lost was a little time — it was never the only Netflix movie sitting at home, so there wasn’t even any real opportunity cost (and I’m still using Mom’s prepaid membership).

Why do I feel guilty anyway?

It’s only a movie…

Diane and I went to the movies bright and early this morning; the IBM Club had bought the Century 21 Theatre for a special showing of Revenge of the Sith. We got there too late to get great seats, but we weren’t forced to sit at the very front of the theatre, so it wasn’t too bad.

There was one interesting byproduct of going to a private showing — no commercials and no trailers. The first thing on the screen was the Lucasfilm logo, followed by those magical words: “A long time ago in a galaxy far away…”.

It’s a shame nobody can tell George Lucas when he’s going overboard — I thought that the battle scenes went far too long, and the first hour of the movie dragged a bit. But eventually, I got into it and quite enjoyed the last 75 minutes. I was pleased that George took care of the loose ends (like C-3PO’s not remembering Tatooine in A New Hope), even if he was less than subtle in a few places.

We’ll probably go back and see it again — I want to watch all six movies in order, and I’ll be very surprised if there isn’t a boxed set available in time for holiday buying. And a rewatching of Spaceballs and Hardware Wars is in order, too.