The Blue Raccoon

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Black Out in Richmond
High winds blow out our power, send us to the movies.

Well, billion-eyed audience, many of you reading this in the Lower 48 are dealing with several feet of snow and icy winds. Here, we are flake-free, and sunny, but yesterda howling gusts clocking in at close to 50 mph overtaxed our power system and put some 43,000 people in the dark.

Amie needed wifi to tend to some bid'ness, so I was sent out to find some, and lucked out at Karsen's where I've wanted to go since the place opened. We were accommodated at the bar, plugged in, and drank fulfilling draught Guinness and ate on gourmet mac and cheese and spinach appetizers. Amie was reminded of the time we spent her birthday stranded in a London airport trying to return to Paris.

Then we went to the Byrd Theater see the much touted Charlie Wilson's War, written by my fave Aaron Sorkin, and featuring Tom Hanks and a Texas accent. And there was Julia Roberts, too, who betrayed her big guffaw laugh just once. Problem when Stars try to become Characters. Somehow I can believe her better as Erin Brockovich; a past and quite successful role which made Roberts, playing an ultra-conservative Texas socialite sneering, "Sluts!" at Charlie's partying entourage even more...textured.

Hanks, at certain angles, through no fault of his own, resembles Amie's brother Mark and that pulled us out of the movie's convention. Still, I found him agreeable company. However, a scene of Amy Adams marching in high heels up a corridor, auburn pony tail swishing, was worth seeing and put me in another kind of convention.

I also got a little West Wing rush, with Sorkin's Restoration comedy in- one-door-and-out-the other scene wherein Charlie Wilson is both trying to get weapons to Afghanis battling the Soviets through CIA operative Gust Avrakotos (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and determining with his staff how he can get himself out of a scandal involving a stripper and cocaine charges.

Wilson's office is run by a Greek chorus of muses that careen through the film like Charlie's quadriga -- the point, I think. They include Amy Adams (center, in the image from This scene was excellent and demonstrated Sorkin's live theater roots.

There's also Sorkin classic walking-and-talking while in the corridors of power scenes. The great Mike Nichols directed; but, I left the theater feeling Charlie Wilson was a bit perfunctory. The brisk, tight scenes just didn't add up for me as a pleasing whole. The film looked a bit and felt like a 1980s made-for-television movie, and seeing a dark-haired Dan Rather and newscast clips of the time completed the sense.

The ending of the film, where Wilson tries then to gin up funds for repairing Afghan infrastructure, and a quote from him saying how the U.S. "fucked up the end game" leaves the audience thinking: oh, that's why there was Osama bin Laden. The movie has gotten critiqued from both political sides as propaganda. Fact is, with a character like Wilson, nuance and ambiguity was part of his political life and personality. Of course, as Amie pointed out to me, at about the same time, Oliver North was running a secret government out of the White House basement to combat the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.

Sigh. Much work to be done here on Colonial Avenue. Later, dudes.

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At 8:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All things considered I would bet my hard earned dollars that the Guinness poured for us outside London were cheaper (even with the current exchange rate) than the suds consumed at Karsen's.

Excellent points regarding CWW.


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