Quick Wednesday morning edit: “BER-NIE!” BER-NIE! BER-NIE!” Yuuuge win in Michigan last night for Senator Sanders. Not a “game-changer” yet, but man, it makes the next few weeks even more interesting. OK, on with the show…
“I’m leaving because this is becoming too normal,” Kim Baker says toward the end of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.” “And this place is really, not normal.”
I don’t generally like war movies, and I generally haven’t liked many of Tina Fey’s movies so far, either (I did thoroughly enjoy “Mean Girls” but she was almost a bit player in that.)
But we went to see “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” last Saturday night because it looked like my kind of movie, it told an important story about the never-ending Afghanistan war, and the third reason maybe most importantly, it fit into our schedule.
And with lines like that one above, as TV war correspondent Kim Baker (Fey) comes to grips with why she must finally leave Afghanistan after three years, “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” got me.
This is a really interesting, good movie, with terrific acting by Fey (seriously, she’s sensational here), Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman and others. A bored local news reporter looking for adventure in 2003, Baker responds to a volunteer request from her editor asking if any reporters want to go to Afghanistan.
Of course when she arrives we get the typical “fish out of water” scenes, as Baker had no clue what life in Kabul is really like (Loved it when Robbie, the only other prominent woman in the film as a rival reporter, tells her that physical appearance-wise, a “6 in New York is like a 9 here.”)
But as Baker adjusts to life in the “Ka-bubble” in Kabul, the movie really takes off. We see her with a gruff drill-seargeant (Billy Bob Thornton), starting a relationship with another reporter (Freeman, who’s as great in this as he was in the first season of “Fargo,”) and over time become very attached to Afghanistan as she fights her news department bosses in New York for more airtime.
Fey is so likable as an actress that even when Baker gives you some groan-worthy moments, you’re still rooting for her.
The movie is also a pretty accurate commentary on our media consumption priorities; just like people in the 1960s learned to tune out TV news on Vietnam War, Afghanistan got lost in the U.S. media shuffle as the years went by, and it’s a damn shame. That war is going on 13 years now, and despite President Obama’s promises back in 2008, isn’t ending anytime soon. One quibble with the movie: We really don’t see too many Afghan citizens and the suffering they go through on a daily basis, but then again, this movie is focused on the reporters more than the place itself.
“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” isn’t a classic, but it’s definitely worth seeing.
**OK next up today, one of my Facebook friends, Tracy L., posted this incredible video yesterday and I just had to share it. It’s a clip from a Hong Kong singing show modeled on “The Voice”, and it features Celine Tam and Jeffrey Li, two little kids with huge voices.
They’re going to be on the new Ellen Degeneres variety show “Little Big Shot” debuting this Sunday on NBC. This version of “You Lift Me Up” is absolutely breathtaking. Such huge voices for such small people!
**And finally today, I think I wrote a blog post a few years ago about how my all-time favorite game show was “25,000 Pyramid.”
Jimmy Fallon had Keri Russell (star of “The Americans,” which comes back next week and you better believe I’ll be writing a blog post about it), and Nathan Lane on his show last week to play “Pyramid,” and I thought it was pretty funny.
Lane is terrible at first, but gets much better.