Hollywood is not exactly conservative. Nor are its denizens. And to utter “Biden Cheated” along the Boulevard might get you an avocado jammed up your nose. But the cast of “Charlie Wilson’s War” seemed to be singing “Trump 2020” and “America First” in perfect harmony.
That at least is my big take-away after watching it.
CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR CAST
Is he great in the movie? Sure. That’s what he does. He’s great; he makes a shit-ton of money for the studios and himself, and he makes it enjoyable for us to go sit in a plushy chair and have movie popcorn and Cokes and… wait. Strike that last part. COVID. He just makes shit-tons.
Hanks also was kind enough to give some opening remarks at Joe Biden’s senior prom the other night.
[We shall not hereafter be referring to Biden as “President,” “POTUS,” or “Commander in Chief.” Not even “President-Elect,” because he was not “-Elect.” He is — with all due respect — an addled man whose time in the senate will practically outlast my Lodge iron skillet, and those skillets last for fucking generations.]
Hanks also got COVID last year.
In fact, he and wife Rita Wilson (no relation to Charlie) spent three nights in the hospital and a total of ten days “feeling really, really terrible.” He explained this to a December 2020 meeting of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Had he not contracted COVID, he would not have had the street cred needed upon seeing Biden on his special night, throwing off his mask and exclaiming, “Joe! I’m using a new Aussie hair conditioner. Come on over here, man!”
Joe had needed a break from a long day, having signed thirty blank pieces of paper on which his staff later typed out Executive Orders. The first EO allowed California caterers to set up tents next to movie sets and required the closing of any family-run restaurants within 100 yards of the tents. Restaurants were granted an exception: if the business was just outside the 100-yard distancing zone, the tent must relocate to within the designated 100 yards so that Hollywood denizens and ingenues from Kansas would be able to eat while four generations of working class Italian-Americans can go fuck themselves.
So, while Sorkin is not an actor but rather the screenwriter of “Charlie Wilson’s War,” he’s a beast. You gotta admit. Any cast working with a screenplay written by Sorkin, or adapted for the screen by Sorkin, or written on toilet paper by Sorkin while he sits in a Port-o-Potty on Lot B and muses what Martin Sheen will say next on “West Wing,” will simply hit it out of the park. He’s just that good.
He wrote the screenplays for:
- Molly’s Game
- Steve Jobs
- The Social Network
- and many others, as well as the aforementioned West Wing, Charlie Wilson’s War and — no one else could give Jack Nicholson the famous line — A Few Good Men.
The thing with Sorkin is that because his dialogue is so precise and rapid-fire and detailed — and it is his dialogue, not action, that moves the plot of this film — to use subtitles as my wife and I are wont to do, because we watch so many British and Lithuanian comedies, is almost pointless. The subtitles can’t keep up. To use subtitles, you have to play the movie on 0.75 speed, which makes Julia Roberts look and sound like a drunken Tri Delta.
Which brings us to:
Julia Roberts is one of those actors who’s always herself, except maybe in one or two roles.
Like Tom Cruise is always himself except in “Born on the Fourth of July.”
Or Charlize Theron is pretty much herself except in “Monster.” (Quite thankfully.)
Or like when Mickey Rourke tried to make his comeback in “The Wrestler” (seriously, one of my favorite movies), only to lose the Oscar to Sean Penn (who I also like, but not that year as much as Rourke). Having lost the Oscar, Rourke went back the following year to playing such memorable roles as that of Ivan Vanko, a.k.a. Whiplash, in “Iron Man 2.”
Back to Julia.
She had some role in some other movie where she played not-so-much-herself, but I can’t remember what it was and I actually don’t fucking care.
She was proficient in this movie. Black dresses, red lips, blonde hair, and cutting a striking figure. She, like Hanks, makes boatloads of money. And I’m glad for her, because in one scene she herself — not a stunt double — separates heavily mascaraed false eyelashes on her eyes with the business end of an open safety pin (true statement, that), all the while keeping sharp lines in cadence. That takes skill. I’ve tried it and failed.
In case you’re wondering: yes, Hanks and Roberts have sex. But no, you don’t see it; it’s offscreen. This is because the year before, in 2006 while shooting “The Da Vinci Code,” Hanks had a premonition that 14 years later he would contract a virus made in China by non-Catholics, and as a precaution decided not to have any visible close contact with others during the shooting of “Charlie Wilson’s War.”
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Hanks makes an exception on his premonition to tongue tangle with this other legend of the screen who died — truly — too soon.
And I don’t mean they French kissed, a physical act they actually didn’t show in movies made before 2008 except for in Toy Story.
I mean that Sorkin’s dialogue is so freaking good that Hanks and Hoffman go balls deep with the verbal repartee. It’s ear candy. In fact, it’s Hoffman who gets the gems of Sorkin’s late night cocaine screenwriting.
There are other great actors — many others — but let’s answer the opening question:
Why is “Charlie Wilson’s War” and cast MAGA-friendly?
The movie came out in 2007. It was set in 1980 (through 1988) and focused on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the covert action the United States took when Congressman Charlie Wilson of Texas and CIA officer Gust Avrakotos brokered an arms deal with Pakistan, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, while Wilson with the help of Texas’s 6th richest woman Joanne Herring (Roberts) helped sway a congressional committee to increase its covert ops budget from five million to ten, to forty, to seventy, to 100 and then 250.
That’s a mouthful.
And that’s the beauty of, once again, Sorkin’s ability to pack a thousand words into a paragraph and have you understand them. Your brain might have to go take a leak every half hour, but that’s what the pause button is for, am I right?
The U.S. helps the Afghans, who are either being slaughtered by Russian helicopters or manage to escape to the Pakistan border. We help, but then we don’t. (After, that is, the Afghans “win” and the Soviet troops and tanks cross Friendship Bridge.) Wilson then can’t get even $1 million to help build a school in Afghanistan once the U.S. has done its bit to kill Russians using Afghan fodder.
And, so, we now come to Trump.
With all its flaws perceived or real, the National Defense Authorization Act was passed when Congress overrode Trump’s veto. This was the first time he’d had his veto overriden.
One of the reasons Trump vetoed the bill was that he felt it limited his ability to bring troops home from sand-covered fuck fields like Afghanistan.
One reason Congress wanted it was for blah-blah-de-blah and, most notably, the bill helped defense contractors. Mitch McTurtle said that the bill had been passed forever so blah-blah-de-blah-blah why not this year. If you want to know who donated heavily to Trump, it was not defense contractors.
So, a final word about “Charlie Wilson’s War” and how Trump views the military and our country.
It won’t be my word.
It will be the word of a man who was both general and president: