Monday, November 5, 2007

Lions for Lambs

Robert Redford's new movie, "Lions for Lambs" will be opening at theatres this week. It's about post-9/11 politics, education & the press. Redford plays a Vietnam vet professor. Tom Cruise plays a Republican Senator spinning military strategy for the network news. Meryl Streep plays a TV reporter. The movie concept intrigues me. May it generate some sorely needed dialogue.

I've always liked Mr. Redford's unorthodox style. He earned a college baseball scholarship, but was expelled from the Univ of Colorado in the mid-1950's for drinking. He has said his real education began as he traveled around Europe & met other young people who were smartly political. He eventually landed in New York, where he studied Art before turning to Acting.

No one doubts where Redford stands as a longtime crusader for social justice & activism. He loathes this "stupid war" in Iraq & laments a "press that has rubber-stamped" this administration's agenda. He expresses "frustration with what we've lived with for so many years now" and sadness over "the losses we've experienced at the hands of this leadership". But he is also distressed by a generation that has buried itself in video games. America would be a very different place right now had there been a draft in effect for the war in Iraq, he says: "For one thing, this administration would be toast by now" because "students would have paid a lot more attention to this war".

Redford says he hopes "Lions for Lambs" will be a catalyst to provoke thought. The film invites viewers to weigh the choices that elected officials, journalists, academics and soldiers make in the morally swampy era of Bush administration foreign policy.

Here are some excerpts from a Times Online review of "Lions for Lambs": The story unfolds in real time, during the course of a single day, and explores many of the issues that are dear to Redford’s heart via three separate strands – the role of the media (how, in the present climate, can it step away from being the Government’s propaganda machine?), the politicians’ justification of the War on Terror, and the losing battle of educators (Redford plays the anguished professor) to prevent students retreating into a torpor of cynical lassitude because they feel helpless to effect change.

The power of the film is the juxtaposition of two injured soldiers – former students of the professor – waiting to be killed by the Taliban on the snowy mountains of Afghanistan, while in the safety of lecture rooms and living rooms and White House offices, politicians, professors and students, reporters and editors, argue about how to end this war.

Redford is not at all optimistic about the future: “The bottom line has taken over everything, including journalism. It’s surprising, frankly, that the studios would take a chance on this film. There has been so much damage to our country ... and there’s such a negative impression of America throughout the world, and for these people to be talking about democracy while practising policies that are so undemocratic …..................”
... “You know, what I can’t forget or forgive is that we were asked to give up our freedoms and let them do what they needed to [after 9/11], and we zipped our lips and gave up challenging the election because they had a difficult job. And it sure was good timing for them ....................."

{quick note: sorry for the interruption, but D.K. wishes to thank Bob for the shortened understatements above, realizing that had he completed his thoughts, we would now find ourselves on a short bus whose next stop is ... Twilight Zone Det Camp #9 ... let us now resume Redford's Times Online interview quote} ...

“We gave up criticising the administration and our president, and we all saluted and marched in lock-step in support, only to be lied to and cheated, and send young people in harm’s way to unnecessarily risk losing their lives. That made me angry ... now I’m past anger and in a state of mourning ... Freedom of opinion, freedom of debate and dissent, that’s what democracy means, but it’s all been shut down now."

Lions for Lambs opens nationwide on November 9.

Watch the movie trailer released to international audiences, 2-1/2 minutes:


Nona said...

Thank you for the review of this film. I love Robert Redford from the days when he refused to allow Bush #1 (just a piss-poor president as compared to Bush #2 a shit-head) to compare Dan Quayle to him.

My eyes were opened to the polical game in Washington when Redford said the following about his observations when he received the Kennedy Center honor in 2005 and observed Washington's elite in action:

"Here were sworn enemies, the leaders who beat the shit our of each other all day in public, but the minute those doors closed for the state dinner, the daggers went away and it was one big happy family. I saw former Republican Sen. Bill Frist weaving through the tables, and he came over to Ted Kennedy and started massaging his shoulders and laughing like they were the oldest buddies in the world. Everybody was crossing the aisles and chuckling, and I said, 'Oh, I get it! It really is just a game.'"

D.K. Raed said...

Hi Nona, you caught me doing some online editing of mistakes made in trying to post this so late last night. I don't know how Bush-the-Elder could've come up with that comparison -- the only possible way Redford is like Dan Quayle would be the role he played in "The Candidate".

Redford is dead-on in that observation about "the game" -- the very thought of Bill Frist massaging Ted Kennedy's shoulders is almost (but not quite) up there with the Lieberman Smooch. Thanks for the image (I think!).

Pursey Tuttweiler said...

It reminds me of trial lawyers who cut each other's throats all day and go have a beer and a back slap when the case is over. It is a game, and that is what the public should realize. Republican voters are busy actively hating their Democratic neighbors, hating them, yet the folks they vote into office cross that aisle and embrace their enemies all day long. Karl Rove on the other hand nearly jumped out of his pink little skin when Sheryl Crow approached him. Makes you wonder how he survived in this game, but he was just a chess mover, not the real player. What the hell am I talking about? I will go see this movie and thanks for the review.

D.K. Raed said...

Pursey, just THINKING of touching Karl Rove makes me almost jump out of my skin. The amazing thing to me about that encounter was that Sheryl Crow even reached out to touch him. Wasn't she afraid of melding with The Borg?

I, too, will eventually see the movie, even though it is getting mediocre reviews ... critics are saying it's "talky" (like that's a bad thing). It will be weeks before the movie makes it out here to my "Tertiary Market".

enigma4ever said...

thanks for the playing himself??? If it is a movie that promotes thought, that is sorely needed....

D.K. Raed said...

Enigma, yeah Cruise was a touch of genius, he plays assholes so well. I just saw Redford on Larry King tonight ... he looked very sad.

Fran said...

Looking forward to seeing this film. I like Streep in just about every film she's been in.