I have a well honed dislike for movie and music reviews. I'm not saying that I have the greatest opinion on movies or music myself, only that I tend to like pretty much the opposite of what movie and music critics love.
Rarely do my ideas about these two juggernaut forms of entertainment parallel those of your average critic. In fact, if I absolutely hate a movie (Ex. American Beauty in 1999, one of THE most horrible movies I've ever watched) that rascal will definitely be on the short list for an Oscar.
I've recently been seeing the ads on TV for Robert Redford's new movie, Lions For Lambs.
Now despite what you may think, me being conservative and all, I tend to like Robert Redford movies. One of the very first movies I ever saw in a real movie theater was Jeremiah Johnson in Natchez, Mississippi with Don C. and Big Brother. I LOVED it. I was about 8 or so and I was totally blown away by this movie and the man Mr. Redford portrayed in it. I also liked Sneakers a lot; that one was pretty fun.
Fast forward all these years and I'm now a middle aged electrical engineer, and despite my Louisiana public school upbringing, can think pretty darn good when my back isn't hurting too bad and sidetracking my thoughts. Engineers tend to be linear thinkers and although I certainly do have my share of artistic, inspirational thoughts, I generally follow the precept by precept way of thinking and end up mostly coming down on the politically conservative side of issues in the news.
I have fellow engineer friends who are as liberal as folks can get, but for the most part, we're a pretty conservative bunch.
Anyhoo, back to my story, I know now, as a somewhat wiser middle aged man, that Robert Redford is about as politically liberal as a human can be. That's cool. He's a big boy, and he was a star and adult when I was a wee lad, and I don't begrudge the man for making his own choices on things; this is America after all.
But when seeing that Robert Redford and Meryl Streep were in Lions For Lambs together and that it was about the war on terror, and that Mr. Redford both directed and acted in it, even a plodding thinker like me can quickly infer that this movie is going to be a typical Hollywood "War Is An Evil Scourge Foisted On Us All By Evil Conservatives" kind of movie.
(I told y'all up there somewhere, that sometimes the inspiration hits me and I magically know these things just like artistic, touchy feely types.)
Almost ten years ago Lovely Wife and I bought a massive television, and although we've had to have it repaired a couple of times over the years, it's huge size has more than compensated us in the form of huge entertainment value for all those dollars we spent on it.
I want this TV to last at least another ten years, that's why it's so disconcerting to have the urge to throw something heavy at our TV every time the commercial for Lions For Lambs comes on. It's still too good of a TV to destroy over a movie commercial.
Then, while checking out the online version of the Weekly Standard, something I do often because I like the way the folks there write, there was a review of Lions and Lambs in there.
So now I've come full circle to my dilemma; do I read the critic's review since movie critics' reviews usually give me heartburn, or just ignore it as usual?
I finally decided to read it because it seemed to me that this review being in the Weekly Standard must be more than just a movie review.
It was more than just a review.
The critic in this article, John Podhoretz, basically skewers the movie, as a movie, and pokes Robert Redford in the eye with the same sharp stick.
It was a really fun read and I thought that was pretty neat aim for this guy to poke both Mr. Redford and his movie with only the one stick.
Here's a sample, and a link to the whole thing:
Calling Senator Cruise
Robert Redford descends from the mountain to make us think.
by John Podhoretz
11/19/2007, Volume 013, Issue 10
Lions For Lambs
Directed by Robert Redford
Lions For Lambs, the new movie directed by and starring Robert Redford, is designed to move us away from the "black-and-white" rhetoric of the war on terror and instead draw our focus to the "gray areas." This is necessary so that there can be a debate on issues--a debate we have been "denied" over the past six years.
I know this because I heard Robert Redford say it before a screening of Lions For Lambs at the Museum of Modern Art, where the movie was met with rapturous applause by an audience studded with has-beens, including a Mohawk-sporting Randy Quaid, Andrew (Pretty in Pink) McCarthy, Adam (Counting Crows) Duritz, and Janine (Northern Exposure) Turner. Redford's main hope, he said just before his film unspooled itself over the course of 88 of the most barren minutes anyone has ever spent at MOMA, is that his new film will make us think. That is, indeed, a noble purpose. So let me say on behalf of the American filmgoing public that we collectively owe an inexpressible debt to Redford for deigning to slalom down from his pristine Utah mountaintop to compel us to make unaccustomed use of our underutilized gray matter.
And Mr. Podhoretz' review only gets better from there.