the better truth

the better truth

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Lions for Lams (2007)

Lions for Lambs by Bores

Here’s a joke for you. “How do you get a turkey in a projector?”. Answer: ”Ask Robert Redford to direct it”. Attention: all those paying victims of the “Milagro Beanfield War” – the general is on the march again! Protect your hard earned admission fee and wait until it turns up on very very very late night television – you’ll have the opportunity to turn the channel. If you want to have the experience without actually viewing “Lions for Lambs” here are some instructions: round up a group of well meaning precocious 5th graders and have them write down their thoughts on Iraq, Afghanistan, Peanut Butter and life in general.

There are some unsettling mysteries surrounding this film; particularly Merly Streep’s active participation. It is difficult to know if she was a victim of some sort of extraordinary rendition – she’s not talking. I guess she figures let sleeping lions and lambs lie. Maybe there was an exchange of an extraordinary amount of money which might explain the production values or lack thereof. Tom Cruise strikes me as the kind of person who might have actually believed this was an interesting, important script. But doesn’t he have an army of handlers? There isn’t one member of the posse who could have spoken truth to power and muttered: “Tom, ah, this project is, ah, pretty fucking stupid”

The movie has three plotlines: Tom Cruise, a venal ambitious young Republican booster has a plan about a new surge strategy to win the war in Afghanistan and ultimately secure his bid for the Presidency. Tom must convince a skeptical seasoned Washington lefty reporter, Merly, that he is sincere and knows his stuff. Neither is true and she knows it but she’s getting long in the tooth and TV News ain’t what it used to be. Robert Redford himself appears as a tired old humanities prof who’s guilt ridden about inadvertently sending two minority students off to “fight the good fight”. Redford throws all his effort into convincing a brilliant rich white kid that its bad to be cynical. Then there’s the tragic story of the minority kids themselves. Have we gotten your adrenaline flowing? Just imagine all these amazing tales mixed together. Meryl’s “frustration” seems genuine as does Redford’s “old and tired”. Tom’s performance really suffers from the lack of windows to break and furniture to smash – but maybe they’ll be an Mission Impossible IV. The saint-like African American and Hispanic do there best but it’s hard to be that good and not be boring. In the end the mirror image of Step’n’Fetchit can be equally stifling creatively. It’s unfortunate that the writers created caricatures and not characters.

Redford has a few lines in here throwing barbs at the rich white kid for not getting involved. I think the student should have responded: “How could you put us in this movie! We’ll never get hired again!!! You and Tom and Meryl can afford to waste your careers on this dreck – YOU'RE ESTABLISHED! What about us! How come you didn’t hire good writers!? Don’t you run a fucking institute for young talent?! Why did you try to direct again!? You think Rumsfeld is arrogant – what about you!? Didn’t you learn anything from Milago!? How many more young actors are you going to sacrifice!?”

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