Posted by: Jae | November 15, 2007

This is as clear as it gets: Don’t Watch Lions for Lambs

Let’s just get this straight: I didn’t hate “Lions for Lambs” because I disagreed with it. Let’s get this straight too: this is a young anti-war, anti-imperialism activist speaking. I think George Bush is an idiot and that for the love of God, he should send the boys home.


That said, don’t even bother watching this pompous, self-indulgent, self-important, extremely tiresome movie that even the luminous Meryl Streep cannot save.

I had a sinking feeling in my stomach when the opening credits started to roll by showing graphs and tables of the current President’s approval rating and survey results of the public pulse on the War on Terror (with the camera lingering longer than necessary on the title that says “Survey on the War on Terror”, just in case we don’t immediately get it.) But I had high hopes, owing to the fact that Meryl Streep had decided to do the film.

The movie is basically composed of three intertwined stories, all happening in just a span of a few hours. There’s the story played Tom Cruise, playing the role of a charismatic senator (reprising pretty much his persona in “Magnolia” — so yawn) trying to convince a liberal journalist played by Meryl Streep to help prop up the PR of a new military strategy involving the deployment of smaller-sized platoons to Afghan pockets. Meryl’s role is one uninspired cliche — part hard-nosed Murphy Brown, part “where have all the flowers gone, oh when will they ever learn” hippie. You sort of understand that the objective is for the exchange between Meryl and Tom to provoke your own discussion on the merits or demerits of US war policy while walking to the parking lot, but really all it provokes is an annoying headache. And not from thinking and analyzing, but from trying to stay awake.

The other story takes place in a faculty room, where a student is consulting his professor (Redford) about his low grades and the student whines about how nothing ever means anything to him anymore. And Robert “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” Redford gives a long boring Gandhi-inspired speech for about one-third of the movie on how “one must be the change he wishes to see in the world”. Oh and he talks about his two students who decided to join the war, over his vehement objections.

Cut to the third story. These two students themselves become the first victims of the new, but ill-conceived strategy of smaller platoons infiltrating Afghan desert pockets. This story was for me the best among the three, primarily because it did not involve two people talking to each other. It at least involved two people talking to each other WHILE trying to stay alive and then eventually dying in a rain of billets.

This movie isn’t about stating the Obvious. This movie is about turning the Obvious into one hard compact brick and then bludgeoning the hapless viewer on the head several times with it until her head cracks. Insert manipulative musical scoring at strategic intervals. Like when Meryl makes the super-fresh, super-revolutionary insight that media has blood in its hands for being an unwitting pawn in the War of Terror. Or when the foul-mouthed student realizes he is in the presence of true and profound greatness. Or when the two kids are about to die and there is a montage of shots of their young lives. (cinematic cliche number 27).

And because — after everything — we STILL might not get it, we have a final shot of Meryl Streep sitting pensively in a taxi, eyes welling with tears, looking at the notes of her interview with Tom Cruise. And then suddenly glancing out of the window, as the taxi passes by a cemetery memorial for fallen soldiers. No sophisticated metaphors for this movie, apparently.

I should just have watched the John Lloyd-Bea movie.


  1. Jae, yung mga nanood ng John Lloyd-Bea movie ay sobrang na-happy! Pannorin mo πŸ™‚

  2. did tom take off his shirt anywhere in the movie? πŸ™‚

  3. joan – oo nga, i plan to. excited na ako. ang pogi ni john lloyd dun sa malaking poster sa gateway.

    vince – nope, he looked constipated in a stuffy-looking suit the entire time. bedsides, hindi naman ako nagagandahan sa katawan ni tom cruise at all. feeling ko, nicole kidman upgraded when she went for keith urban. πŸ™‚

  4. Jae, but most people do need to be whacked in the head with the obvious. And although I found the Tom & Meryl scenes/dialogue grating and yes a lot of it was cliche (even the last lines, what was it, “What’s your grade going to be?” were cliche), it does make the apathetic reassess things (well, at least I did). πŸ™‚

    I really want to watch One More Chance also!! Re. their poster, I don’t know why they… Bea has to show off their armpits. Airbrushed? ;-p

  5. hahahahaha! thats so funny. i actually noticed that too, and i wanted to make some snide comment about bea’s armpits. yeah, what’s up with that? it just pops out at you. i think it’s airbrushed. even her face looks kinda photoshopped, don’t you think?

    good point, about making the apathetic reassess things. i guess if it makes even one person decide to make a difference, then thats better than nothing. πŸ™‚

  6. i heard maganda nga ang john lloyd-bea movie.
    hmmm… seems like mas okey pa panooring ang mga episodes ng boston legal na may anti-war issues.

  7. at least you’ve got to give credit to robert redford, et. al. for trying…iilan lang ba ang mga sine dyan na panay dialogue lang.

    btw, tom cruise upgraded when he got katie holmes πŸ™‚ so there…

  8. arcibald – di pa ako nakakapanood ng boston legal, pero i heard nga na maganda yun. πŸ™‚

    levy – iba naman ang panay dialogue, iba ang panay preaching. :p

    i agree that tom cruise upgraded, but katie holmes downgraded. hehehe. still rooting for dawson leery. πŸ˜€

  9. this is a movie in a series of anti-war movies that hollywood has made, and in my opinion one of the major reasons why movies like these are ineffective is because it demonstrates how bereft of ideas the opposition is. and tom cruise trying to portray a right-winger? puh-lease. movies like these have no effect on the public just like michael moore’s ‘fahrenheit 911’ didnt have any effect. the only people that are interested in watching it are people that already agree with the premise and therefore dont question it. okay, so the left doesnt agree with the war against islamic fascism: so, what are the better ideas out there other than what the government is already doing? they are even undermining the non-combat operations, such as ‘waterboarding’ as torture; very good, let’s let the enemy know exactly what our tactics are, what is permitted and what is not, so that interrogation becomes ineffective and enemy operations are much harder to thwart. but that’s okay, when there is another attack it will be george bush’s fault anyway.

    one other thing worth considering: movies like these are a first for hollywood. they are producing anti-war pictures *while the war is still going on*. anti-vietnam pictures didnt start appearing until years after it was over. if they really supported the troops, they wouldnt actively attempt to undermine the mission. sure, it plays well with an international audience, but the actors are indeed americans and messages like these do encourage the enemy and do lead to more soldiers getting killed.

    keep in mind that when you watch movies like these, there really are two americas like john edwards says. only it’s not the rich and the poor. americans are not on the same side. half of america wants to see the mission succeed, and the other half is so against it ideologically that they intend to undermine the entire enterprise, regardless of the cost to fellow americans. bottom line is: regardless of ideology, we are there already, and the only options we have now are victory or defeat — there is no third option! so, if one half of america doesnt want success, then what does that mean? theyre obviously not supporting victory. and if youre actively promoting america’s defeat, then youre a phony american. bottom line.

    and movies like these will never do well at the box office because, let’s face it, the majority of americans do want to win.

  10. Jae, promise ang ganda ng boston legal. As in love ko si Alan Shore. Mapapaisip ka talaga sa pros and cons of the war, and the angle taken by the writers is always anti-war (thru Alan Shore) at mejo ridiculous ang pro-war as advocated by another character (Denny Crane), but syempre in the end, Hail America. Ok na rin sa kin yun, kasi ang dami ko talagang natututunan.

  11. any chance rendition is still being shown anywhere in the metro? hmmn.

  12. at dahil si joan at si movie-snob chrisgel na nagsasabi na mukhang maganda itong john-lloyd na movie,cge na nga manood na ako.wehehe

  13. ans dami kong points:

    una, ang bigat bigat bigat naman talaga ng comment ng nagcomment ng mahaba sa taas. pasalamat na lang talaga na di mo pinakasalan yan! kundi baka naextraordinary rendition ka na din. hmph.

    pangalawa, sobrang witty at nakakatawa ang boston legal. yey.

    pangatlo, sayang si meryl (close kami). and well, tom cruise never did it for me kahit nung gullible teenagers pa tayo. nag downgrade nga si katie. :p

    pang apat, type ko si john lloyd pero si bea is just another airhead, airbrushed starlet. πŸ˜‰

  14. 1. well, ayoko mangligwak ng dating jowa.. ang masasabi ko lang hindi naman yan ganyan ka-extreme dati mag-isip. πŸ™‚ p.s. may inedit ako sa part ng comment mo, sinalin ko lang sa wika natin. hehe.

    2. sige kumbinsido na ako.

    3. yes. go dawson!! o kahit si pacey pwede na din. but i must say, ang cute cute ni suri. parang nakakaexcite magkaroon ng baby girl tapos bibihis-bihisan mo. πŸ™‚

    4. exasperating talaga si bea. pa-tweetums princess na ewan. lahat sila ganyan ngayon. walang individuality. parang may template. yaaaaaawn.

  15. pero golda, di ko pa napanood ung john lloyd-movie, pero dami ko nadinig maganda daw. i would have watched it last wednesday were it not for my weird sleeping habits recently (ayaw ko naman makatulog sa sinehan at sa movie ni bea!)

    oo nga jae, maganda ang boston legal. bili ka na lang ng pirated dvds ng complete seasons 1-3. (syempre, mahirap na itakas sa states yan, have you heard of the latest advisory sa us immigration, pag mahulihan ka ng mga pirated stuffs – cds to dvds to even bags, outright revoked ang visa mo!)

  16. P.P.S. I have always thought that, at least, the ostensible reason for waging the war on Iraq is because the US government wants to do the right thing. And I don’t think I can ever find a thesaurus that equates “right thing”, with “winning”. I also don’t think that the term “retreat” necessarily means “defeat”. However, I think that ‘dyingculture’ above expresses the sentiment, and official policy of those in power, those making the decisions in Iraq, the same policy that already cost thousands of American lives, not to mention, the lives of innocent civilians. So maybe, just maybe, if the people in power started thinking more about doing the right thing (as they’ve always claimed to have been the impetus for the war) than about winning, the death toll can finally stop.

  17. yeah, yeah. whatever. think what you will — obviously the american people are brainwashed by their government and that’s why they want to ‘win’. unsurprisingly, despite the unpopularity of Bush and the Iraq war, the public simply doesn’t buy the idea of their country as a 24/7 cover-up for rape, torture and war profiteering.

    in this case, ‘retreat’ does mean ‘defeat’.

    retreat. n.
    – The act or process of withdrawing, especially from something hazardous, formidable, or unpleasant.
    – Withdrawal of a military force from a dangerous position or from an enemy attack.
    – The signal for such withdrawal.
    β€” Idiom. beat a retreat, to withdraw or retreat, esp. hurriedly or in disgrace.

    no doubt that is exactly what the enemy is hoping for. no doubt that is what much of the world is hoping for, disgrace. and keep in mind what happened last time america ‘retreated’: genocide swept through southeast asia because of the power vacuum left a void.

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