Film Reviews

LIONS FOR LAMBS

By • Nov 9th, 2007 •

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Everyone sits and pontificates. It’s one long speech. Too many words.

Every sits and pontificates. It’s one long speech for 90 minutes. Too many words. I know how this sounds but see this movie and you will understand that it’s not my lack of intellectual prowess or cinematic sophistication I’m expressing. The speeches are dull and numbing. The stars’ egos overtook their good sense. The direction is messy and amateurish. The camera work is sloppy.

With a vague title meaning nothing to anybody except World War 1 veterans, director Robert Redford frames an anti-Iraq war film that he bogs down with speeches.

LIONS weaves 3 stories together all taking place within the same time frame.

Dr. Stephen Malley (Redford) is a California university professor having an hour-long conference with Todd (Andrew Garfield), a student he feels is blowing his brilliant future by not coming to class, preferring to enjoy student life filled with girls and extra-curricular activities. I never saw Todd’s potential. I didn’t like him, nor was I impressed with his intelligence. In fact, his hair bothered me, but then again, so did the golden-red shade of Redford’s. Maybe Malley’s class is a bore? Malley considers himself a kingmaker and wants to impress upon Todd that he could be a man that could make things happen in America’s future.

Problem is, Malley has a lousy track record for mentoring and guiding his brightest students.

Janine Roth (Meryl Streep) is an influential television reporter with 40 years under her wide belt. Having anointed young Sen. Jasper Irving (Tom Cruise) as the future savior of the Republican Party, he has called her in his office for the honor of a one-hour, mano-a-mano exclusive interview. He mentions that what he is about to tell her may very well snare her a Peabody award.

Irving has decided that Janine is the perfect asset to explain his new war strategy for Afghanistan. Janine is too savvy to take the bait and knows she is being used for propaganda. She is furious but she is 57 years old and has her future to think about. As her boss tells her, she’s too old to be picked up by another network. Get with the program and deliver the exclusive.

Concurrent to Irving outlining the plan to Janine, we see the operation under the command of Wirey Pink (Peter Berg). Pink’s instructions are to send a small Special Forces team to capture an Afghanistan mountaintop that insurgents are interested in themselves. It just so happens that two of Pink’s Special Forces soldiers are Malley’s prized students, Arian Finch (Derek Luke) and Ernest Rodriguez (Michael Pena). They did embrace Malley’s philosophy about their Change-The-World abilities. Coming from under-privileged ethnic backgrounds, they buy into Malley’s own propaganda that they can actually make a difference. But to Malley’s shock, they decide the best way to do this is to leave school and join the army!

Immediately under fire, Rodriguez gets hit and falls out of the helicopter. Finch jumps after his best friend. Now the two of them are being surrounded by the enemy as Pink’s team tries to rescue them. Irving’s new war plan is a disaster.

The speeches are tortuous. Only Cruise gives a dynamic performance, while Streep, a true veteran, realizing her scenes all involve sitting down and taking notes, makes a lot of faces. Redford and Garfield are terrible. Why didn’t Peter Berg direct instead?

As far as the anti-war politics go, Redford and writer Matthew Michael Carnahan let Cruise’s cutthroat senator set out the government’s evil objective to win “whatever the cost.” We all know we shouldn’t be in Iraq and certainly not Afghanistan – they don’t even have oil! Afghanistan is a country of rocks. It has a lousy climate. We are fighting for a stake in rubble and dirt.

And what in the Lord’s name does that 50s French New Wave ending mean? I don’t have a clue. It’s meaning is left to the each audience member to ponder, and I for one, believe that another of Malley’s bright students takes off in the wrong direction.

Spitz Suspected Grasso Affair – New York Post Online Edition: Gossip

Military Option

WHILE one CUNY professor was making a failed attempt to land jobs there for convicted radical lawyer Lynne Stewart, her co-defendant Mohammed Yousry and former Weather Underground member Susan Rosenberg, Marymount Manhattan College was inviting Dr. John Alexander to speak there tomorrow. The former Green Beret, a senior fellow with the Defense Department’s Joint Special Operations University and the Army War College, has advised the highest levels of government on intelligence matters and was a mentor to the minister of defense in Afghanistan. Alexander just returned from Rwanda, where he and his wife, Victoria, were tracking silverback mountain gorillas.

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