But Lions for Lambs is not merely a silly, shallow movie about the war: Its ambitions are broader and more scattered. Not content to stay focused on its central issue, it dabbles and babbles hither and yon, tossing off sophomore term-paper opinions on such topics as Americorps, consumerism, student loans, and corporate ownership of the media.
Late in the movie, Roth, fresh from her interview, has an anguished discussion with her editor. Should they run the story the senator has given them? Did their early, credulous reporting in the run-up to the Iraq war make them just as culpable as its planners? Should they have quit their jobs when their network was bought by a soap company in the 1990s? Have they (gasp) sold out?
It's an odd, awkward scene, and I confess that it wasn't until this point that it struck me that, on a certain level, Lions to Lambs isn't really about the war on terrorism at all; it's about the boomers. The movie's backward focus, its lectures on peripheral issues, even the inclusion of the otherwise unnecessary professor-student storyline, are all hints that this may be less a political document than a cultural one.
What? The most self-absorbed narcissistic generation since Incroyable et Merveilleuse in the 1790s actually can't get away from navel-gazing? Redford is always sincerely supercilious, if you can wrap your brain around that oxymoron. Cruisie baby is a yeller and at times a screamer---his understanding of psychology underpins every cinematic moment he is on screen. And Streep must adopt the tics and twitches of over-the-hill past-their-prime journalists somewhat like Dan Rather in drag. Finally, Orr spanks the chief perp in the movie, Redford's weary smug sneer:
the liberal professor [Redford] is disappointed that his students lack the passion
and fervor of his own youth. It's on this last point that Redford is at his most patronizing. When, repeatedly, the film criticizes today's kids for being more interested in making money than in making a difference, one is tempted to reply: Yes, Mr. Redford, what a lucky thing it is for all of us that when you were young you eschewed fame and fortune.
The contemptible Redford's only hope is that victims of academicide will force their students to watch, as Orr notes:
The screening of the film I attended also hosted a sizable contingent of students from American University, who came with their professor. It seemed apt. Lions for Lambs is a movie no one should bother seeing unless they're getting credit for it.
I wish Orr had quizzed the students out of the mentor-minder's earshot on what THEY had thought of the cinematic lecture.
Perhaps Hollyweird's shot at ensuring a loss in Iraq has evaporated, now that the surge is succeeding and the MSM has gone silent on events in Mess o' potamia.
Just when these turncoats and traitors thought they had another Vietnam to be brave about protesting, the war turns around and gets won. Tsk, tsk. Destiny sure plays some weird tricks!