Charlie Wilson's War (Widescreen) (Dual-layered DVD) product details page

Charlie Wilson's War (Widescreen) (Dual-layered DVD)

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From his very first film, a blistering version of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Mike Nichols has proven over and over again that he is arguably the finest adaptor of plays for the screen. His stage work -- in both improv theater and his legendary time with Elaine May -- taught Nichols the power of exquisite timing. He understands not only how a line should be delivered, but also when. Charlie Wilson's War continues this fine history. As Charlie Wilson, a Texas senator familiar with the shadier sides of his private appetites, Tom Hanks embodies someone who both enjoys the privileges of and respects the power he possesses. He embodies the seemingly sexist career politician with a winning good ol' boy charm. He hires only attractive women to staff his office, but they are all smart and politically savvy, and he listens to their advice. After seeing a news report about Afghani rebels fighting the Soviet invasion of their country, and being egged on by a very wealthy hardline Anti-Communist Texas socialite (Julia Roberts -- reteaming with Nichols after Closer) interested in funding his reelection, Wilson decides to covertly fund the rebels. The large portion of the film is a nearly journalistic revelation of the steps he took to achieve this. The script, adapted by Aaron Sorkin from a non-fiction book, has the snap of the best West Wing episodes. You feel as if you are seeing how politics really works -- how idealism and intelligence and humor can be used to manipulate the seemingly unmovable bureaucracy of the Federal government -- a process full of unique types like a youthful weapons expert and a spineless diplomat. This is not a dry history lesson, but a fast-paced, witty exposé of a man who found himself in the right place at the right time to affect history. The film maintains a sarcastic tone thanks to the crack writing, and the presence of the always brilliant Philip Seymour Hoffman. As a violently moody, fiercely intelligent CIA man, Hoffman gets the kind of role good actors dream of and great actors, like him, make unforgettable. His impeccable delivery draws huge laughs from the script's best lines, and in a subtle final speech he offers the film's surprisingly pointed moral. For 90 minutes, Charlie Wilson's War is a portrait of American can-do ingenuity, but the final ten minutes offer a reminder of what can be expected from any change made in the world -- a lesson that couldn't be timelier. With Wit, Angels in America, the aforementioned Closer, and now Charlie Wilson's War, a 76-year-old Mike Nichols has proven over the course of this decade that while other skills might erode with age -- perfect timing does not have to be one of them. Perry Seibert, All Movie Guide