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A test screening review of the Mike Nichols' directed, Aaron Sorkin scripted Tom Hanks starrer CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR comes in!!!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. This flick is one of my most anticipated left in 2007. Was there any doubt that a Mike Nichols directed, Aaron Sorkin scripted flick starring Tom Hanks and Philip Seymour Hoffman would be anything but great? This sounds fantastic. Keep in mind while reading that this is an early review of an unfinished film, but it seems like it's already pretty much there. Enjoy!

Hello Harry, I was lucky enough to get into a showing of the upcoming Tom Hanks/Julia Roberts/Philip Seymour Hoffman film CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR. I haven’t heard much about this film and wished I had even known what it was about before attending this as it us a lot to process – that said, it’s a uniformly excellent film with some of the best actors we’ve got. The best way to describe it is to understand it is a Mike Nichols/Aaron Sorkin movie. So its witty, its snarky. Its passionate, socially conscious and quite complicated (both a good and bad quality here) and even subversive in its politica – and by that I mean even the liberals get taken to task. Charlie Wilson is a great character for Hanks. And a little bit darker than his usual roles. We first meet him in a Caesar’s Palace hot tub with a crew of cocaine snorting strippers. Still, the tit soup isn’t even enough to drag Charlie’s attention away from Dan Rather on TV in a turban. Dan’s talking about Afghan rebels who are covertly fighting the Soviet occupation of the early 80’s. Right here I was hooked because essentially these ‘rebels’ transformed over time into the ‘despicable Taliban’ that dear George and Dick are bravely hunting down. The script only hints at the unforeseen effects that this rebel support caused but the irony is certainly there. Its funny, I just looked up the Mujahaideen Army who were the group that sent that open letter to America in 2005: warning about our electing of ‘criminal Emperors’ time and time again. The movie shifts tonal gears when it gets to Pakistan. And to see the real human suffering that –mostly child – citizens in these countries endure while we’ve just been at a fabulous cocktail party where rich people in gowns are strategizing on how to milk the situation for their own gain…well, it’s a kind of creepy wake up call when I think of my own flippant conversations with friends over what we are doing in Iraq right now. I felt like a total limo liberal. We were giving these people weapons that we knew were USELESS against Soviet helicopters that bombed them! So Charlie sets out to raise money to get the kind of weapons/ammo that will defeat the Reds. The story becomes a journey of is negotiating of the Congressional shark infested waters to get the money he needs to do this -- all with the crafty help of Joanne who will seduce anyone to get what she wants. I wont divulge anymore of the plot as its just too darn complicated to describe. But this is a ballsy movie. And one that deserves attention. No shock here – the dialogue is first rate Aaron Sorkin tongue tinglers. In fact, a little less ‘clever clever’ than STDIO 6 jokes which is fine by me. Here’s two of my faves: (Phil Seymour Hoffman) “I’d like to hold a meeting to review the 10 different ways in which you’re a douchebag” and when asked why Charlie only uses big breasted women as his secretaries, one answers: “Mr. Wilson has a saying – you can teach a girl to type but you can’t teach her to grow tits.” It all probably sounds a bit HBO-ish - but the superstar version. These people are the best we’ve got: Hanks is a brilliant actor – always finding a way to surprise me. Julia is basically royalty now and owns it so well that her world wariness in the part of Joanne comes off as a kind of ‘grand dame’ role that Bette Davis or Ingrid Bergman did in their work in the 70’s. Hanks doesn’t grandstand here – just a great character actor when it comes down to it. Julia is different in this: wiser, cynical and mature. Crafty but righteous. SEXUAL. Which I forgot she could be – she doesn’t seem too concerned about being ‘likeable’….more serving the overall film here. She plays Joanne Haring, the ‘6th richest woman in Texas.” A ‘ weekend ladyfriend’ of Charlie’s and right wing socialite with a huge political agenda. Like I said, the writing is of course great BUT sometimes the info download (about the ways in which Afghan’s culture was being under siege by Russia, about our own initial half hearted investment in supporting them, etc.) is so dense that I was missing stuff while trying to absorb what I’d just heard. And that’s not good – while filmmakers should never talk down to their audience, making them play catch up is also a frustrating experience. But hell, this movie is honest – its realistic. It made me think. It wins its goal but then comes back to Earth. I’ll leave you with this statement Hanks makes after he’s reached his goal. And how in a way its so meaningless. “As usual, we come in change the politics and leave. But you know what? That Ball? It keeps bouncing…even after we’ve left.” Ominous. But the truth. Best. PENNENINK

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