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Now in our eleventh calendar year!
PCR #556 (Vol. 11, No. 47). This edition is for the week of November 15--21, 2010.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Fair Game"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

theater seats

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I"  by Mike Smith
"Fair Game" by Mike Smith
The Lost Drive-In: Nature Runs Amuck!  by ED Tucker
USF Japanese Picnic  by Jason Fetters
Don't Grope Me Bro! .... .... .... .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf  by Mike Smith

Summit Entertainment     
Starring: Naomi Watts, Sean Penn and Sam Sheppard
Directed by: Doug Liman
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 1 hour 48 mins

In Kuala Lampur, an attractive woman is attempting to meet with a powerful leader of the country. She is questioned about her background and, when she reveals she is from Toronto, is peppered with questions about the Maple Leafs. She handles them easily. Mission accomplished.

October 7, 2001. As our government begins its War in Afghanistan, the same lady is questioned at C.I.A. headquarters about a shipment of aluminum tubes that have been seized in Iraq. An aide to the White House is convinced that the Iraqi government will use the tubes to make nuclear weapons. The agency feels differently. Among the agents in disagreement is the same attractive woman we met in Kuala Lampur, Valerie Plame (Watts), a covert agent for the C.I.A. She and her superiors can’t understand why no one in the White House will believe them when they explain that Iraq has NO nuclear program. At least not at first.

Told in a gripping, almost documentary style (a favorite of director Liman, who also served as his own director of photography and camera operator), “ Fair Game” is a smart film that certainly makes you wonder about how our government works. Upon rumor that Iraq has bought 500,000 pounds of yellow cake uranium from a small African country, Plame’s husband, Joe Wilson (a former ambassador to Gabon and not the congressman who yelled “You Lie” at President Obama) is asked to travel to the Dark Continent and see if the rumors are true. They’re not. However, when President George W. Bush makes a claim at the United Nations that Iraq has Weapons of Mass Destruction, Wilson writes an op-ed article which upsets a lot of people at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Upset enough so that when Joe opens his Sunday paper he is surprised to see that Valerie’s name and real occupation are splashed across the front page. Who said paybacks aren’t hell?

Last week I lamented the fact that even though “Unstoppable” was advertised as being “based on a true story” it was hardly true. No need to complain with “Fair Game.” The story is well known but, thanks to the use of historical footage and news broadcasts (I love hearing Bush comment on all things “nucular”), the film exposes secrets heretofore unknown. How secret? In the credits the names of certain officials are redacted! Though Watts receives top billing (and is excellent) the star here is Penn, who plays Wilson. It’s hard to believe that Jeff Spicoli from “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” is now a two-time Oscar winning actor. Penn portrays Wilson as a man who enjoyed the spotlight, no matter the cost to himself and his family. Both actors excel here playing a couple whose schedules don’t match and who communicate mainly through Post-It notes. David Andrews is perfectly slimy as Vice Presidential aide Scooter Libby and I have to admit it’s rather ironic to see Penn, as Wilson, rail at the Fox News Channel, when in reality that outlet has been rather unkind to Penn and his political views.

A thriller that keeps you guessing at each turn, on a scale of zero to five stars I give “Fair Game”  

To comment on this or any other PCR article, please visit The Message Board. This week's movie review of "Fair Game" is ©2010 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2010, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.