Friday, December 21, 2007

Guilt by association

Critics' comparisons to other films have lessened my already-light interest in a couple of movies that are getting a lot of attention.

I headed over to to try to get a handle on Charlie Wilson's War and had to click through an ad for Atonement that compared the adaptation of Ian McEwan's novel to The English Patient, as in "the most something-or-other story since." My reaction: Oh, so it's long and boring and you won't care about the characters?

The book impressed me on one level - the surprise ending reveals that McEwan had written an extended literary exercise in narration, and my English-degree instincts applauded the brilliant execution. But it also left me even less emotionally involved with the story, so the film might go on my Netflix list but I don't need to go to the theater for it. When I saw the comparison with The English Patient, I foresaw a long and lonely wait on my Netflix queue for this one.

I heard a radio interview with Tom Hanks and the real Charlie Wilson somewhere, and I was troubled by the idea of a movie that glamorized a congressman who exploited his position to wage a covert war in Afghanistan that apparently opened the way for the Taliban to take over. Hanks said nice things to Wilson that made it sound like he thought this guy was a hero.

Then the first review I saw said it wasn't as good as director Mike Nichols' previous flick Primary Colors. Well, since that Travolta dog robbed me of two-and-a-half hours of my life, I took that reference as fair warning to ignore this one completely.

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