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The Untold Truth

The Oscar nominations, the sad death of Heath Ledger and a couple of big name premieres have put the movie business back on the front page of Britain's tabloids over the last couple of days. Two brilliantly made, but insidious, movies have brought the stars back to London.

Tom Hanks has been here for the opening of "Charlie Wilson's War" and Jack Nicholson worked his customary magic with his fans in Leicester Square for "The Bucket List". The crowds loved the stars and will troop to see their films. Both are class movies, but, in my opinion, rotten to the core.

The first -- about a Democrat Congressman who it claims, single handedly brings about the downfall of the Soviet Empire by arranging the finance, the purchase and delivery of heavy weapons for Afghan freedom fighters. The second -- about an unlikely pair of old codgers, both suffering from terminal cancer, who bond and take off in a private jet to do and see all the things they want to, before they die.

Okay, so one rewrites history a little and the other deals with agonizing disease through rose-colored stethoscopes. The movies have dealt in fantasy since the lion first roared and before, so what's my beef?

Simple. At no point during a witty and clever movie that claims to be based on fact, does "Charlie Wilson's War" explain to me just exactly who Charlie Wilson was arming to the teeth at the expense of the American tax payer. The people who became better known as The Taliban. That's right, those cozy, colorful freedom fighters he financed, turned out to be the guys who have our guys in a foxhole right now. Not so funny, huh?

Similarly, "The Bucket List" will have you believe that cancer is a terminal inconvenience which leaves you feeling none too healthy, but perfectly able to trip round the world having the greatest of times. I can hear the sound of bedpans clattering against screens when the DVD of this is screened in cancer wards. I have friends serving in Afghanistan and other friends who are suffering from or have died of cancer. They all deserve better than this.

By Simon Bates

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