In Lions For Lambs, Tom Cruise plays your typical smarmy republican senator. Very glib, very polished, he oozes smooth and has the Winger talking points nailed down to a short but effective response to any question posed to him. Tom Cruise was cast perfectly as the senator. He may not know squat about post-partum depression, but, man, can this guy do unctuous perfectly or what.
Meryl Streep plays the reporter who is summoned for a one hour exclusive interview with said smarmy senator. She really could have phoned in this performance, but she did manage to convey your typical journalist's quandary: shall I challenge this blowhard or shall I simply engage in stroking this guy's ego so my publication gets the interview. Tough call. To counterbalance Streep's decision, her driver passes by Arlington so she can gaze tearfully at all those white crosses on her way back to her news desk. She will probably be nominated for an Oscar for her performance in this film based on her ability to keep that one lonely tear resting on her eyelid refusing to make its way down her cheek thereby leaving a wet trail through her perfectly applied make up.
Robert Redford, who also directed this mess of a movie, plays a college professor who, by his own admission, doesn't have too many sources of illumination among his string of bright lights in the classroom. But there is this one kid. Just one, and it is with him we spend one third of the film observing his somewhat poorly written philosophical discussion with his college professor. The professor, as it turns out, feels a smidge of guilt for unintentionally influencing two former students (and it is no accident that one of these students is Black while the other is Hispanic) to enlist in the military. Since Professor Bob certainly doesn't want to do THAT again, he has this heart-to-heart talk with a student who, in spite of the fact that he has attended very few classes all semester, has shown Reford some mysteriously hidden promise.
Interspersed with this agonizingly dull, very talky, rehashing of all the should-we or shouldn't-we leading to of course not, what could we possibly have been thinking conversation is the accounting of a new initiative for Iraq. One that Cruise has helped plan, and one that he feels sure will bring Al Qaeda to its knees. Oh silly, silly Tom. Anyone who is familiar with any of the issues presented in this film knows up front that the plan will fail, and the reason for that is because the big old dumb US can't do anything right. Or left either for that matter.
So, to sum up: Robert Redford has released his personal statement on the Iraqi war effort with a budget of $35 million to do it. So far his return has been a pathetic $6 million at the box office. Wouldn't it have been far better to use that $35 million to buy additional supplies for the soldiers who actually have to fight the Iraqi war than to use it to stroke Reford's ego as a director and actor.
This is where Hollywood has absolutely no clue. One the one hand we've got the war effort. On the other we've got the collective Hollywood egos. Hmmmm... what to choose. The egos of course!
So far in this current movie season I have seen 3 movies with stories based on the Iraq and Afghanistan war effort:
- Lions For Lambs
- The Kingdom
It is difficult to decide between Lions For Lambs and Rendition for the title of worst movie. It's a no brainer (in spite of what the critics had to say) about which was the best movie. That's The Kingdom without a doubt.
It seems like such a waste to me that Hollywood has the potential to make films about issues like the Iraqi war but they blow it all on nonsense like Redford's flop or Gyllenspoon's failure. There are some good documentaries out there to see that are both informative and riveting: No End In Sight, and Control Room. So save yourself the trip to the theater and try a service like Netflix instead, and then order the documentaries. You'll be glad you did. And you can trust me on this.