Rainy Day Movie: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

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Today is the official start of my spring break, but my brain mostly checked out of things after this past Wednesday (due to the weather, lack of sleep, and some annoying miscommunication with my landlord). Plus it’s still been raining off and on here for like a week now. Which is good, Austin needs the rain, but also because it gives me an excuse to go to the movies. (Not that I need an excuse, I went to see Hail, Caesar! last week and it was beautiful out.)

I was a bit surprised when my mom’s first reaction to my telling her I went to see Whiskey Tango Foxtrot was to ask if it was stupid. Because it isn’t, and I had forgotten, that the trailer sort of makes it look like it is. I went because, as previously discussed, I love Tina Fey and will basically buy a ticket to anything she’s in, and this was written by her TV partner Robert Carlock, so though my expectations weren’t high I was prepared to like it. And I did (though not without reservation.)

Based on war correspondent Kim Barker‘s memoir (which I definitely want to read now), this follows Fey’s journey from copy writing drudge to adrenaline junkie war reporter. It’s harrowing and absurd and unapologetically feminist. It’s funny, but rarely in a laugh out loud way. (That can be hard when every ten minutes or so something explodes.) There’s a lot of drinking to forget the craziness of the danger they are putting themselves in. And a lot of hooking up, in fact the best scene to me captured the actual awkwardness of casual sex. Not the perfect choreography of most dramas or the forced hilarity of everything going wrong you see in most comedies (including Fey’s Sisters from late last year), but realistic fumbling. I found it refreshing.

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This gave me a different insight into the war in Afghanistan. I had never seen it from a female perspective before, and I appreciated that. (It helped that I could follow what they were talking about because of this season of Serial.) But, there was one glaring problem here for me. Fahim, Barker’s translator, driver and “fixer,” was played by Christopher Abbott (whom you may remember as Charlie on the early seasons of Girls) and the Attorney General of Afghanistan is played by Alfred Molina. And if you can’t see what the problem may be here, then I’ll direct you to this brilliant John Oliver video about white people playing other races in Hollywood movies. It’s hard, because I think Abbott especially is a fantastic actor and he is so heartwarming and brilliant in this. (As he is in everything I’ve ever seen him in.) But, they should have hired an Arab man to play that character and they should know better. It didn’t ruin the movie, but it did keep taking me out of it.

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Putting that scarf on him doesn’t make this OK

 

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