Friday, March 4, 2016

Whiskey Tango and Foxtrot [2016]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB (O)  ChicagoTribune (2 Stars) (2 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (C+)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (S. Wloszczyna) review
AVClub (J. Hassenger) review  

Whiskey Tango and Foxtrot [2016] (directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, screenplay by Robert Carlock based on the memoir The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] by Kim Barker [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] [IMDb]) is a film that I'd happily recommend to young people the world-over -- to both young Americans and non and regardless of political affiliation.

I write this because this though this the story is set in Afghanistan during the post 9/11War / Occupation there, it is story about a young woman reporter Kim Barker, fictionalized here slightly as Kim Baker (and played magnificently in the film by Tina Fey) for whom those years in Afghanistan (and Pakistan) _were_ simply yet clearly "the [most significant] time of her life."  And _anyone_ who's ever had relatives who served in / lived through "the Big One" (WW II), Korea or 'Nam would certainly understand.

As such, I am rather surprised at the "lack of love" given to the film by America's official "film criticdom."  Who was offended? / why?  Indeed, when I left the film, I had left it disappointed that it wasn't released earlier, in November / December, because if it had been there would have been buzz about a Tina Fey Oscar nomination.  Instead, it seems to have been "deep sixed" (by whom? / why?) in the "film desert" of late winter.  Again, why?

Is it because the lead character was a woman, based on a book written by a woman war correspondent (a book / film that actually didn't necessarily portray the men all that badly)?  Is it because the film neither draped itself in patriotic colors nor refused to condemn the war?   At times I'm just baffled.

The film, felt like an undated M.A.S.H. [1972-1983] though focusing not on surgeons but rather reporters, with Fey's Kim Baker serving as the film's "Hawkeye."  Her Afghani assistant Ali Massoud Sadiq (played again quite well by Alfred Molina) served as the story's "Radar," a crusty, by the book, but ultimately "father figure-ly" Marine general Hollanek (played by Billy Bob Thorton) with whom she often had to deal with was the story's "Col. Potter" and "hot" / "beyond reach" / "tough" / "experienced" Cristiane Ananpour-like reporter Tanya Vanderpool (played by Margot Richie) was the film's updated / no question anymore, independent "Major Margaret Hoolihan."

Yes, there is a sort of "imperial" to "imperial(ist)" feel to the movie that American viewers should note (and non-American viewers should perhaps _let go_ this time).  After all, the reporters in this film were in the Afghanistan "Ka-bubble" because of the post-9/11 War / Occupation.  But let's remember WHY we went to war in Afghanistan -- because it had become the training ground / staging ground for 9/11.  Prior to 9/11, NO ONE envisioned a need for the U.S. to go there and occupy the country.  After 9/11 it was hard to imagine any alternative: We were certainly not going to let Al Queda / the Taliban try to do it again ... 

So while someone like me -- Clergy, part of an International Religious Order, who's organized in the past Mission trips -- would love to see young people have international (outside of their day-to-day norm) experiences in less drastic / far more peaceful circumstances, I DO APPRECIATE THIS FILM and Kim Baker / Barker's story.  It was for her, like many like her, and even like many of the soldiers present, "the time of her life ..."

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