Thursday, February 17, 2011


Over the years, I've been one that doesn't go with the flow.  I dislike fads, try to avoid fixating on commercials that tell me what I need to do, that will in turn determine how I'll feel.  I'm sure much of that is because I want to make up my own mind.  Or at least as much as I can by myself, anyway.  I think back to my younger days when the Beatles were the craze.  That's all people talked about.  Not me....I was in with Buffalo Springfield all the way. I liked the fringed jackets much more than the nehru ones.  I will say years later, many years later, I came to respect the Beatles place in history and the music world, but on my own terms.  I'm that same way with movies......

Perhaps You Should Take A Look
Last year I came across "Lions for Lambs" as I was moving across the movie channel lineup.  The summary listed, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep and Robert Redford in.....the experiences of two soldiers in Afghanistan tied together with seperate stories unfolding in California and Washington D.C.  I will have to admit, this was the first time that I could recall anything about "Lions for Lambs", which was released in 2007.  I watched and was impressed by a number of things in the storyline. 

"With a title that alludes to incompetent leaders sending brave soldiers into the slaughter of battle, the film took aim at the U.S. government's prosecution of the wars in the Middle East, showing three different simultaneous stories: a senator who launches a new military strategy and details it to a journalist on the edge of a mental breakdown, two soldiers involved in said operation, and their college professor trying to re-engage a promising student".  At the conclusion of the movie, I decided to put it in my DVR library.  The true test would be if I watched it again.  Last night I did.

 I was surfing across the movie directory and there it was.  I hit "select" and "Lions for Lambs" became viewable to me for a second time.  I liked the movie the first time I saw it...but after this second session I was intrigued to find out why it wasn't any box office hit.  Here is what the critics said:

"I went to a war-time thriller and a Poli Sci 101 seminar broke out"- Kyle Smith, New York Post

"Politicans, the media, educators, military commanders and the docile public all come under fire for a well-made movie that offers no answers but raises many important questions"-Ray Bennett, Hollywood Reporter.

"Despite its powerhouse cast, "Lions for Lambs", was a series of disjointed lectures rather than a sharp narrative that falls flat".-Tomatometer critic. 

Clearly, there is a dramtic difference in what people experienced based upon those comments.  Critics either loved it or hated it and the movie industry itself had issues.  "Lions for Lambs" was the first Cruise/Wagner production with United Artists since his fallout with Paramount Pictures.  Hmmmmmmm.  But there is more to the story......

Writer Matthew Carnahan was inspired to write the script when, while channel surfing trying to find a USC Trojans football game, he saw a news report about a Humvee that had flipped into an Iraqi river, drowning about five U.S. soldiers. Carnahan considered it an awful way to die, and "couldn’t get past it fast enough", considering he was too indifferent, "talking so much and not doing a damn thing", and "the same hypocrite that I so can’t stand in our country, the kind of people that will flip right past the news to get to Access Hollywood".   One exchange between Professor Stepehen Malley (Robert Redford) and student Todd Hayes was extremely poignant.  The Professor spoke about life and the road ahead:

Professor Stephen Malley:  The decisions you make now, bud (Todd Hayes), can't be changed but with years and years of hard work to redo it... And in those years you become something different. Everybody does as the time passes. You get married, you get into debt... But you're never gonna be the same person you are right now. And promise and potential... It's very fickle, and it just might not be there anymore.

Todd Hayes: Are you assuming I already made a decision? And also that I'll live to regret it?

Professor Malley:  All I'm saying is that you're an adult now... And the tough thing about adulthood is that it starts before you even know it starts, when you're already a dozen decisions into it. But what you need to know, Todd, no Lifeguard is watching anymore. You're on your own. You're your own man, and the decisions you make now are yours and yours alone from here until the end.
I'm not going to try and persuade you to like "Lions for Lambs".  What I am going to suggest is, if you haven't seen it yet, watch it.  If you've watched it before, try one more time.  I'm always amazed what I pick up when I re-read or  re-watch something.  Don't be dissuaded by the critics, don't let anyone tell you what it is or isn't.  See for yourself.....that's all I'm asking.   



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