BluRay/DVD Reviews

CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR

By • May 16th, 2008 •

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This is my second viewing of CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR and on DVD it is enhanced by the smaller screen, and by bringing Julia Roberts’s Southern Belle sugar-drawl portrayal down a notch. Director Mike Nichols, who already did one movie with Roberts (CLOSER), has once again given her a role tailored to her uber-movie star status.

Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin adapted George Crile’s book ‘Charlie Wilson’s War.’ (I have the hardcover) giving Texas Representative Charlie Wilson a braggadocio character with egomaniacal colorings. But Wilson did get the job done of aiding the Mujahideen and crushing the Soviet Union occupation in the 1980s.

Wilson orchestrated the U.S. proxy war with the Soviet Union. Somebody had to step up. Apparently, Wilson had access to the money to do it.

Wilson interrupted his booze-filled, cocaine-sniffing, womanizing lifestyle to decide it was he who was going to give tons of money and military weapons to the Afghans. Maybe it was to impress his on-off girlfriend, the 6th richest woman in Texas, Joanne Herring (Roberts).

After you have everything money can buy and all your friends have money, you have to do something to set yourself apart from the obscenely wealthy group you run with. You need a cause to be known for. Herring decides she will use her power and influence with world leaders to help Afghanistan fight the invasion by the Soviet Union.

Maybe she has family in the mountains of Afghanistan?

While Hanks really walks the walk of a Texas blowhard and it is fascinating to watch his performance, once again it is Philip Seymour Hoffman as CIA operative Gust Avrakotos who steals every scene he’s in. Hoffmann knows exactly how to use his physical characteristics to make a bold statement.

The DVD – I’ll admit I watched it on a friend’s high tech sophisticated equipment – boasts a terrific widescreen transfer. The extras are two featurettes worth watching. The Making of Charlie Wilson’s War has the three stars talking about how they felt portraying real-life people, and includes footage of the fun they had on the set. Not only are they paid a lot of money, but they have to have fun! The real Charlie Wilson and glamorous Joanne Herring were often on the set enjoying the festivities.
The other featurette is called Who is Charlie Wilson? We are led to believe that Wilson, a relatively minor State Representative, played a significant role in the ending of the Cold War. (I thought that honor went to Pope John Paul the Great.) Wilson certainly has laid claim to this fact and brags, in a highly entertaining fashion, about his unconventional lifestyle. Joanne Herring, clearly delighted that Julia Roberts immortalized her on film, is also interviewed, as are Sorkin and Nichols. The disc has audio tracks and subtitles in English, French and Spanish.

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