June 23, 2017 | Rome, Italy | °C
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Biopics

Christine

Antonio Campos' take on the Christine Chubbock suicide is all about the stunning Rebecca Hall.

Love & Mercy

Bill Pohlad's tribute to Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys bites off more than it can chew.

Drama

Equity

Meera Menon's Wall Street thriller breaks gender stereotypes, with Anna Gunn shining bright.

Horror

Train to Busan

Say this about Yeon Sang-ho's seemingly infinite collection of zombies: they keep on coming.

The Neon Demon

Nicolas Winding Refn's acid trip excoriation of the modeling industry is a sexual muddle.

Thrillers

The Shallows

Blake Lively and a "Jaws"-inspired shark are all the fun in this taught thriller.

Split

M. Night Shyamalan seems well on his way to a comeback movie when he loses the plot.

Science Fiction

Embers

Clare Carré's dreamy debut has lofty aims but ends up going around in tedious circles.

H.

If apocalyptic atmosphere is your cup of tea, check out Rania Attieh's and Daniel Garcia's tribute to Homeric tidings.

Fantasy

The Lobster

Yorgos Lanthimos's wondrously bizarre love parable creates a credible alternate universe.




Date: 2007
Directed by: Robert Redford
Starring: Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise, Michael Peña

Lions for Lambs

It's understandable to make want to make an idealistic political "thriller" about the twin-pulls of duty to country and Iraq-tempered skepticism. But only a strong and coherent story, "Syriana"-style, can save such an undertaking from becoming that least appetizing of animals — the liberal Hollywood sermon. There's no saving director Robert Redford's cut-and-paste job about idealism gone awry. Start to finish, it's plagued with bad planning and hackneyed pitfalls — a bit like some war efforts.

He loosely ties together a California political science professor (Redford), a gung-ho U.S. senator with a new plan to "win" in Afghanistan (Tom Cruise), a skeptical reporter interviewing the senator (wasted Meryl Streep), and two of the professor's students who feel duty-bound to enlist and, of course, find themselves in hell-hole Afghanistan. The title, "lions for lambs," shortens (and waters down) a Battle of the Somme observation by a German officer about the folly of British soldiers being led to trench-warfare slaughter by unyielding generals, "Nowhere have I seen such Lions led by such Lambs." In essence, the lions are hopeful American boys and the lamb/donkeys the self-righteous leaders ill-equipped to manage them either militarily or politically.

The fractured, unthrilling narration skips back and forth between smooth senator, war scenes and anguished (Vietnam vet) professor. But the failure to decide just who and what are important at any given time dishonors the underlying message of hypocrisy abundant, good young men wasted and American idealism betrayed. It's an abnormally annoying outcome in the hands of Redford, whose worst films are usually more accomplished.

Reviewed by: Marcia Yarrow
Day and Boarding International High School in the Heart of Rome

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