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Thomas de Zengotita Headshot

Why Are Critics Dissing Lions for Lambs?

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Like, for example this review, from the New York Times.

This review is typical of hip opinion on this movie. Somehow, Lions for Lambs is failing to satisfy sophisticates on several fronts at the same time. The problem is aesthetic -- it's a clunky movie, claustrophobic, talky. The problem is political -- it doesn't tell us what we ought to do about the Iraq war. The problem is ideological -- it doesn't offer progressives a transcendental vision of the future.

As if any progressive venue anywhere were doing that last thing, for God's sake. How much can you ask of a movie?

These criticisms reminds me of how people avoiding some social commitment tend to give you several reasons why -- you know what I mean? As if by multiplying their reasons for bailing they can cover up the fact that they just don't want to do it in the first place?

What is it with this movie, in particular? It's an innocent exercise. It's a totally transparent antiwar movie. It is didactic. It is talky. The camera barely moves. So what? Where's the rule that says movies have to embody some cool cinema aesthetic just to earn the right to be on the screen? Why not show people sitting in a room talking about something as important as this war? Why not offer young people a simple challenge?

Why do hipster progressives value style even more than they value honesty?