Friday, November 2, 2007

Lions for Lambs

Attended a screening of the film at the Fine Arts Theatre in Beverly Hills. The writer Carnahan did a Q&A after the screening and was terribly affable. I kind of wanted to smack him, he was such a nice guy. His career is a mystery to me, though his quick rise to writing stardom without any sort of struggle must, must, must be attributed to his brother Joe.

Lions for Lambs is a play. It may be on the big screen, but make no mistake, it's a play. And but for the helicopter scenes, it probably would have been.

Lions for Lambs
is not particularly great. Why? Because plays don't translate particularly well. This one, like others, is dialogue-heavy, quite static, and full of people lecturing to/at each other. And while it's all well-executed, I think you'd have to be crazy to think Andrew Garfield's Todd Hayes is anything but an unoriginal twit and that anything special is being said here.

Certainly the cry out against apathy is important, and it is in these moments, when the film begs itself and the audience to engage in -- whatever is important to them -- that it becomes a valuable film. However, this isn't enough. That Ernest and Arian engage can't save them when the leaders of the country (i.e., Tom Cruise's Sen. Irving) and journalists (i.e., Meryl Streep's Janine Roth) care more about, respectively, winning and keeping their jobs.
Still, no working hypothesis is provided, the action (and I'm just talking physical movement) is in short supply, and the characters with the most potential get gutted for pure drama's sake. That's not going to charge an audience. It's just going to depress them. Which is not what I think Carnahan was going for...

Drove too much today and ate too little. Wicked headache.

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In summing up, I wish I had some kind of affirmative message to leave you with. I don't. Would you take two negative messages?
-- Woody Allen