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3 Body No Problem
08-03-2010, 10:54 AM
Hurt Locker has no political perspective other than banalities like war is a drug and soldiers often repress their homosexual sides. In the film, all Arabs are sweating, dirty, creepy, whiney, unhealthy, badly dressed, randomly killing people, devoid of individuality. All Americans are strong, charismatic individuals with great upper bodies who take great care not to hurt others. Americans suffer great emotional anguish if they 'have to' kill an Arab. Americans form friendships and make jokes. Hell, the Arabs don't even have clean teeth. I mean, if someone doesn't care for dental hygiene, you just have to invade their country.

routes
08-03-2010, 11:19 AM
i've not seen it but my friend, a UK Arab, had exactly the same response to the film as you and she was incredulous that more people hadn't picked up on it.

gumdrops
08-03-2010, 11:23 AM
lol

when i saw it, yeah, the first thing i thought (and ive still not read any reviews of this yet) was that its actually a really solider-supportive film isnt it? the whole film was basically set up to show how hard it is for the troops out there in iraq - all iraqis are hostile to them being there, they hate the soldiers, theyre all suicide bombers etc etc. the tone of HL makes you think it might be more questioning but basically, this is basically a 'support our soldiers' type of movie. i thought it might not be.

much as i liked HL - it did have some affecting moments, but as a whole, i found it a little... flat? i know its about the soldiers so maybe expecting any sort of iraqi viewpoint is maybe not in line with the rest of the film but that a bit of that would have been nice. i thought when he ends up in the professors house, that might be an opp for some dialogue but it was just another scene where iraqis seemed to either be suspicious or nuts.

3 Body No Problem
08-03-2010, 11:45 AM
when i saw it, yeah, the first thing i thought (and ive still not read any reviews of this yet) was that its actually a really solider-supportive film isnt it?

After the film finished, I was buzzing. I wanted to join Blackwater.


the whole film was basically set up to show how hard it is for the troops out there in iraq - all iraqis are hostile to them being there, they hate the soldiers, theyre all suicide bombers etc etc. the tone of HL makes you think it might be more questioning

Yeah, but it's fun! Especially since 'we' can always outsmart the 'stupid arab'. Hell, we don't even have to wear our protective suits, we just pinch some cables, it's easy. 'They' are too stupid even to build a decent bomb!

What's fascinating about the movie is that I -- presumably like most educated westerners outside the US -- entered it with the expectation that it would be critical of the invasion. And it took me a long time, basically until the end, to realise that this wasn't the case. The movie cleverly supports and maintains the expectations (themselves created by scores of conventional movie scripts) that there would be some kind of Eskhaton, some reckoning at the end where the actions of the soldiers are put into a political context, but it wasn't there.


i thought when he ends up in the professors house, that might be an opp for some dialogue but it was just another scene where iraqis seemed to either be suspicious or nuts.

That scene made no sense and was totally pointless. I guess they cut something there at short notice.

3 Body No Problem
08-03-2010, 11:47 AM
i've not seen it but my friend, a UK Arab, had exactly the same response to the film as you and she was incredulous that more people hadn't picked up on it.

This is something I also noticed. For example if you read the comments on IMDB. It's quite astonishing. I guess the explanation is that most (all) mainstream war movies have a clear good/bad binary, and most viewers are so brainwashed into accepting it, that it does not register anymore, because it's so in line with expectations.

gumdrops
08-03-2010, 12:00 PM
the reason critics like this film so much is cos its appears non judgemental about the reasons for the war and doesnt say the soldiers are dupes etc. but its not really that impartial. it has its own agenda, its just not the usual war movie one.

droid
08-03-2010, 12:29 PM
Hurt Locker has no political perspective other than banalities like war is a drug and soldiers often repress their homosexual sides. In the film, all Arabs are sweating, dirty, creepy, whiney, unhealthy, badly dressed, randomly killing people, devoid of individuality. All Americans are strong, charismatic individuals with great upper bodies who take great care not to hurt others. Americans suffer great emotional anguish if they 'have to' kill an Arab. Americans form friendships and make jokes. Hell, the Arabs don't even have clean teeth.

You mean like pretty much every American film ever made which depicts Americans at war?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNxFjweJUeQ&feature=related

craner
08-03-2010, 01:00 PM
Absurd. Here we go again...

Has anyone seen Full Metal Jacket?

baboon2004
08-03-2010, 01:31 PM
"I am living in a world of shit"

Straight outta Beckton.

routes
08-03-2010, 01:39 PM
Absurd. Here we go again...

Has anyone seen Full Metal Jacket?

"I wanted to see exotic Vietnam... the crown jewel of Southeast Asia. I wanted to meet interesting and stimulating people of an ancient culture... and kill them."

padraig (u.s.)
08-03-2010, 02:08 PM
Hurt Locker has no political perspective other than banalities like war is a drug and soldiers often repress their homosexual sides. In the film, all Arabs are sweating, dirty, creepy, whiney, unhealthy, badly dressed, randomly killing people, devoid of individuality. All Americans are strong, charismatic individuals with great upper bodies who take great care not to hurt others. Americans suffer great emotional anguish if they 'have to' kill an Arab. Americans form friendships and make jokes. Hell, the Arabs don't even have clean teeth. I mean, if someone doesn't care for dental hygiene, you just have to invade their country.

why is it required to have a political perspective? especially one that fits your own? you make it out as if you got tricked into watching it, only to found that - horror of horrors - the filmmakers weren't seekers of truth like yourself...

I thought, if anything, it took pains not to portray the Americans - aside from the main character (& even w/him there were nuances) - as overly heroic. the colonel played by David Morse, for example, is clearly meant to be distasteful both to the bomb squad guys & to us (you'll probably say something about this is rationalization or the full fleshing out of American characters or something, I guess whatever as long as it fits your POV). I dunno, I thought the whole point of the movie - or one of the points - was that the war & occupation were also dehumanizing for the soldiers, if in different ways.

it's a film about American soldiers. it doesn't claim to be anything else. correspondlingly, the perspectives are those of American soldiers, though the comparisons to junk like Missing In Action are - w/all due respect Droid - totally ridiculous. there are many stories that could be told about Iraqis, their feelings & their experiences; this isn't one of them. which isn't surprising, seeing as it's an American film made at least primarily for an American audience.

tellingly, the "racism" didn't become an -issue- until it won a bunch of Oscars.

vimothy
08-03-2010, 02:12 PM
Aren't all Americans racist?

padraig (u.s.)
08-03-2010, 02:15 PM
oh & I want to make sure that everyone's aware Full Metal Jacket is a satire, based on a great, venomous novel (better than the movie, definitely) written by a Vietnam Vet who was solidly against that war. normally I would just assume that people understand it's satire but I just dunno here...

polystyle desu
08-03-2010, 02:15 PM
A write up from before the Oscars ...
Maybe ppl don't know Bigelow's mode & history,
how far outside of H'wood she has always been,
how hard it was to get $ to make H'Locker.
Or want to look for politico where none is intended.

Suggestion - go make your own movie and show your pov ...

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/21/movies/21darg.html?_r=1

droid
08-03-2010, 02:19 PM
it's a film about American soldiers. it doesn't claim to be anything else. correspondlingly, the perspectives are those of American soldiers, though the comparisons to junk like Missing In Action are - w/all due respect Droid - totally ridiculous. there are many stories that could be told about Iraqis, their feelings & their experiences; this isn't one of them. which isn't surprising, seeing as it's an American film made at least primarily for an American audience.


I didn't intend to compare them. Just linking to an egregious example of the same phenomenon.

I thought the hurt locker was OK actually.

padraig (u.s.)
08-03-2010, 02:25 PM
Aren't all Americans racist?

touché.

on a more serious note, waiting to see how the pieces fall once all the votes are counted up. looks like it's between Maliki & Allawi.

3 Body No Problem
08-03-2010, 02:35 PM
I thought, if anything, it took pains not to portray the Americans - aside from the main character (& even w/him there were nuances) - as overly heroic. the colonel played by David Morse, for example, is clearly meant to be distasteful both to the bomb squad guys & to us

I'm not sure which guy you are referring to. Presumably the crazy, reckless bomb disposal guy. This is the interesting thing about the script: that guy is introduced as distasteful, but in the course of the movie becomes the hero: he solves every problem, he disposes of every bomb, he's invincible, he drinks, he has fun, he doesn't give a shit about authority and bureaucracy, and he h as a hot, adoring girlfriend.


it's a film about American soldiers. it doesn't claim to be anything else.

My review is about racism in mainstream movies. it doesn't claim to be anything else.


there are many stories that could be told about Iraqis, their feelings & their experiences

As you know very well, none of these "many stories that could be told about Iraqis, their feelings & their experiences" will be made for an American audience, the audience that wanted, financed and carried out the war that created these 'experiences' in the first place.

swears
08-03-2010, 02:38 PM
"I wanted to see exotic Vietnam... the crown jewel of Southeast Asia. I wanted to meet interesting and stimulating people of an ancient culture... and kill them."

Has this bit of dialogue ever been sampled on a tune? It's perfect darkside, isn't it?

3 Body No Problem
08-03-2010, 02:38 PM
Or want to look for politico where none is intended.

Authorial intension is relevant in evaluating artworks in what sense?


Suggestion - go make your own movie and show your pov ...

Do you also ask defenders of the movie to make one before they defend it?

padraig (u.s.)
08-03-2010, 03:29 PM
I'm not sure which guy you are referring to. Presumably the crazy, reckless bomb disposal guy.

no, that's not who I was referring to. but since you bring it up the point of the movie, again, is that however many bombs he defuses, scrapes he pulls out of, etc. dude is hollow inside. he's not having fun; it's compulsion & dude is clearly damaged goods. very obviously he's completely unable to connect with his son & "hot, adoring girlfriend". again, if you wanna go on about how Americans are the only full characters, alright, but don't pretend he's set up as a square-jawed, flawless hero.

as far as antiheroes who buck the system, welcome to cinema. presumably if his name was Tariq and he was a cagy insurgent setting up IEDs instead of dismantling them then you'd be fine with the antihero cliches.


As you know very well, none of these "many stories that could be told about Iraqis, their feelings & their experiences" will be made for an American audience

yep. I'm not sure why you or anyone else would find that surprising, though. or, they might get made, but only for the very small American audience likely to search them out at film festivals or art house theaters or whatever. which, ironically (or perhaps not), was/is the same exact audience for the Hurt Locker, the antithesis of a blockbuster.


the audience that wanted, financed and carried out the war that created these 'experiences' in the first place.

& that's just bullshit. even aside from the fact that the Hurt Locker's most likely audience, aside from veterans, was people likely to have been against the war (& not that there's not some overlap between them & vets).

I thought even stodgy Marxists these days were past lumping all Americans into a vat of hyperexaggerated cliches, but maybe not.

polystyle desu
08-03-2010, 04:14 PM
Authorial intension is relevant in evaluating artworks in what sense?

Do you also ask defenders of the movie to make one before they defend it?

1. Hmmm, yes the author's view is what one paid for, spent time on.
Ppl familiar with Bigelow's work can guess what they are going to get and go see it.

2. No - I suggest 'evaluators' make their own content instead of getting all armchair about things.

polystyle desu
08-03-2010, 04:16 PM
Has this bit of dialogue ever been sampled on a tune? It's perfect darkside, isn't it?

you are joking , right ?
that's what's precieved as 'darkside' and worth sampling ?

gumdrops
08-03-2010, 04:32 PM
if that bit of dialogue ever got sampled it would make me hate the artist for life.

polystyle desu
08-03-2010, 04:34 PM
hear that Gumdrops.
ppl think 'wobble' is corny ?

padraig (u.s.)
08-03-2010, 04:39 PM
you are joking , right ?
that's what's precieved as 'darkside' and worth sampling ?

he was talking about darkside jungle, which was infamous for sampling bits of dialogue from Terminator, Blade Runner, Predator, etc. there was definitely a kind of cartoonish element to the "darkside" vibes as well. like that Remarc tune that used the Cape Fear theme (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhYlnaxNiMY). not that I think this sample would've been the best, mind, but I could see some bedroom junglist cutting out the Vietnam-specific parts & just having something like "I want to meet interesting people...and kill them" which is right in that kinda campy, black humor darkside wheelhouse.

gumdrops
08-03-2010, 04:46 PM
yeah i know what he meant. as long as the last bit about wanting to kill them was taken off, it could be ok.

Mr. Tea
08-03-2010, 04:48 PM
It would sit well in some early '90s industrial tune, but then virtually any industrial after about 1985 is corny as hell by definition...you can certainly enjoy cheesy horror/war/sci-fi samples in a 'cartoonishly evil' way, for sure.

nomadthethird
08-03-2010, 05:47 PM
I thought even stodgy Marxists these days were past lumping all Americans into a vat of hyperexaggerated cliches, but maybe not.

Don't hold your breath.

Haven't you heard? All Americans are idiotic consumer zombies who don't have thoughts and know nothing about politics or the dread neo-liberalism. Especially American women.

Oh yeah, and don't forget that every American in this country is responsible for the garbage that Hollywood spews forth. Somehow. We're all involved in the making of crap films, apparently.

Also, we all supported the war.

gumdrops
08-03-2010, 05:55 PM
All Americans are idiotic consumer zombies who don't have thoughts and know nothing about politics or the dread neo-liberalism. Especially American women.

Oh yeah, and don't forget that every American in this country is responsible for the garbage that Hollywood spews forth. Somehow. We're all involved in the making of crap films, apparently.

Also, we all supported the war.

i respect your honesty.

nomadthethird
08-03-2010, 06:08 PM
i respect your honesty.

Har har.

3 Body No Problem
08-03-2010, 09:02 PM
I thought even stodgy Marxists these days were past lumping all Americans into a vat of hyperexaggerated cliches, but maybe not.


Also, we all supported the war.

Do you deny or confirm that the war is paid for by the American tax payer, i.e. essentiall every American adult?

Do you deny or confirm that in the 2004 US presidential election, the overwhelming majority of the electorate either voted for a pro-war candidate (Bush, Kerry) or abstained from the vote (which is a "I don't care about the war" vote)?


Haven't you heard? All Americans are idiotic consumer zombies who don't have thoughts and know nothing about politics or the dread neo-liberalism. Especially American women.Oh yeah, and don't forget that every American in this country is responsible for the garbage that Hollywood spews forth. Somehow. We're all involved in the making of crap films, apparently.

Nobody has claimed any of this in this thread.

padraig (u.s.)
08-03-2010, 11:04 PM
Do you deny or confirm that the war is paid for by the American tax payer, i.e. essentiall every American adult?

just tbc - are you encouraging people to risk going to jail or losing their homes for refusing to pay war taxes (I've actually known a couple people - Quakers - who did just that, tho it's clearly not an option for most people)? more to the point, are you saying that anyone who doesn't refuse to pay their taxes cannot be against the war? because that sounds like a rather specious argument to me. also - did -you- make a point of not paying your war taxes, or any other taxes you find unpleasant (if you pay taxes at all, I guess)? or did you just pay them like most everyone else?


Do you deny or confirm that in the 2004 US presidential election, the overwhelming majority of the electorate either voted for a pro-war candidate (Bush, Kerry) or abstained from the vote (which is a "I don't care about the war" vote)?

and what do you suggest they should have done instead? storm the White House & implement a glorious dictatorship of the proletariat? back Ralph Nader? some kind of happy medium between the two? really, let's hear your brilliant ideas. (I'm in the third category, btw, and mine was very much not an "I don't care about the war" vote)

also, whatever you make of the decision to go to war - undoubtedly, it was a bad one - once you break something, you have a responsibility to stick around & try to implement some kind of functioning society. in fact, say what you will about American imperialism - & there's plenty that could be said - it's kinda amazing that Iraq is functional enough to hold reasonably open elections that - it seems - will lead to a nonviolent transfer of power between regimes. I won't say it's better than it was before the invasion (though that's v. likely true, between Saddam & the sanctions), but it's leaps & bounds better than it would've been had the U.S. withdrawn in 2004. I don't believe you or anybody else seriously thinks otherwise; mind, I'm not giving all the credit for that to Americans, but a large share, definitely.


Nobody has claimed any of this in this thread.

oh, come off it. seriously.

nomadthethird
09-03-2010, 12:12 AM
Do you deny or confirm that the war is paid for by the American tax payer, i.e. essentiall every American adult?

Do you deny or confirm that in the 2004 US presidential election, the overwhelming majority of the electorate either voted for a pro-war candidate (Bush, Kerry) or abstained from the vote (which is a "I don't care about the war" vote)?



Nobody has claimed any of this in this thread.

Oh for fuck's sake. I cheat like crazy on my taxes. The gov always pays ME money, I never pay in anything, or if I do, I make sure I get it back. I am basically an expert at tax fraud. I learned from the pros. A good portion of my income was/has been "under the table" anyway.

But the people who *did* pay their taxes didn't necessarily pay them because they were pro-war...that's just ludicrous. I suppose you paid your taxes, despite the fact that several countries within the EU pitched in troops for the war effort?

Oh, and Bush STOLE THE GODDAMMNED ELECTION, in case you didn't hear. He used his Florida connections to cheat his way into office the first time, and the second time, the opposing candidate was total shit and stood no chance of winning.

mixed_biscuits
09-03-2010, 07:53 AM
Should Jonathan Ross have arrested Bigelow at the BAFTAs for inciting racial hatred?

Mr. Tea
09-03-2010, 11:43 AM
Oh, and Bush STOLE THE GODDAMMNED ELECTION, in case you didn't hear.

It's great, isn't it, how the election of Bush Jnr. can be used as a stick to beat America from any possible angle. You can either point out the massive electoral fraud that allowed him to get in in the first place (which I'm sure 3BNP would be happy to do in any other context), to demonstrate how corrupt and undemocratic the political system is - or you can conveniently ignore this, and the lack of a viable anti-war alternative, and berate Americans for being ignorant, gung-ho retards.

The perfect have-cake-and-eat-it situation!

mms
09-03-2010, 02:24 PM
Hurt Locker has no political perspective other than banalities like war is a drug and soldiers often repress their homosexual sides. In the film, all Arabs are sweating, dirty, creepy, whiney, unhealthy, badly dressed, randomly killing people, devoid of individuality. All Americans are strong, charismatic individuals with great upper bodies who take great care not to hurt others. Americans suffer great emotional anguish if they 'have to' kill an Arab. Americans form friendships and make jokes. Hell, the Arabs don't even have clean teeth. I mean, if someone doesn't care for dental hygiene, you just have to invade their country.

i think you wanted a diferent film about the iraq war. thats all, not being into a film cos it doesn't fulfil your ideology is a bit thick. The films pretty subtle i think, all over, alot better than the really shallow description you've given above which are just a banal predetermined list of complaints which don't really fit the actual work very well.

scottdisco
09-03-2010, 03:17 PM
I mean, if someone doesn't care for dental hygiene, you just have to invade their country.

i hope not.

us Brits would be first against the wall.

zhao
09-03-2010, 03:35 PM
i hope not.

us Brits would be first against the wall.

i've met some english girls with very good teeth...

Mr. Tea
09-03-2010, 03:41 PM
I know, I think it's just a daft old stereotype perpetuated mainly by the Simpsons writers. Though maybe 'we' do have bad teeth compared to Americans, given the preponderance of kids in the US who have braces (retainers) at some point - that, and our collective national love affair with refined sugar. http://img691.imageshack.us/img691/7229/biggrintj.gif

mms
09-03-2010, 03:47 PM
I know, I think it's just a daft old stereotype perpetuated mainly by the Simpsons writers. Though maybe 'we' do have bad teeth compared to Americans, given the preponderance of kids in the US who have braces (retainers) at some point - that, and our collective national love affair with refined sugar. http://img691.imageshack.us/img691/7229/biggrintj.gif

my teeth are shocking.

Mr. Tea
09-03-2010, 03:49 PM
Well you've got your own personal smiley to use now!

nomadthethird
09-03-2010, 05:12 PM
I know, I think it's just a daft old stereotype perpetuated mainly by the Simpsons writers. Though maybe 'we' do have bad teeth compared to Americans, given the preponderance of kids in the US who have braces (retainers) at some point - that, and our collective national love affair with refined sugar. http://img691.imageshack.us/img691/7229/biggrintj.gif

People over here are ridiculous about their teeth. Some of my cousins get their teeth lazer whitened a couple of times a year. Just about everybody I know had orthodonture (braces) in their teens, even if their teeth were fine. I knew a girl who went through several sets of porcelain veneers by the time she was 20. I remember when I used to smoke my mother bought me this really expensive bleaching treatment that she couldn't afford, so my teeth wouldn't get stained.

Of course, I'm getting cosmetic dentistry myself, I can't really look down on anyone...

nomadthethird
09-03-2010, 05:20 PM
It's great, isn't it, how the election of Bush Jnr. can be used as a stick to beat America from any possible angle. You can either point out the massive electoral fraud that allowed him to get in in the first place (which I'm sure 3BNP would be happy to do in any other context), to demonstrate how corrupt and undemocratic the political system is - or you can conveniently ignore this, and the lack of a viable anti-war alternative, and berate Americans for being ignorant, gung-ho retards.

The perfect have-cake-and-eat-it situation!

It's funny to me how Marxists who supposedly don't believe in individual agency suddenly *do* believe in it when it can be used to try to make every living American look responsible for the state of the world.

Mind, they haven't actually revolted or anything, so their own share of responsibility is...non-existent? I don't get these people.

Mr. Tea
09-03-2010, 05:41 PM
People over here are ridiculous about their teeth. Some of my cousins get their teeth lazer whitened a couple of times a year. Just about everybody I know had orthodonture (braces) in their teens, even if their teeth were fine. I knew a girl who went through several sets of porcelain veneers by the time she was 20. I remember when I used to smoke my mother bought me this really expensive bleaching treatment that she couldn't afford, so my teeth wouldn't get stained.

Of course, I'm getting cosmetic dentistry myself, I can't really look down on anyone...

I had three sets of braces - two removable, the last set fixed ("train tracks") - over the course of several years when I was a kid/teenager. But my teeth were pretty shockingly protrusive and it (eventually) fixed them. Good old NHS!

Edit: sorry, pretty badly off-topic - I've not seen the film and can't say I'm particularly keen to. So.

nomadthethird
09-03-2010, 06:17 PM
I had three sets of braces - two removable, the last set fixed ("train tracks") - over the course of several years when I was a kid/teenager. But my teeth were pretty shockingly protrusive and it (eventually) fixed them. Good old NHS!

Edit: sorry, pretty badly off-topic - I've not seen the film and can't say I'm particularly keen to. So.

Yeah, I couldn't care less about this movie. Some people are excited about a woman winning for best director, tho.

baboon2004
09-03-2010, 06:35 PM
Yeah, I couldn't care less about this movie. Some people are excited about a woman winning for best director, tho.

Yep, funny how 87 (?) years without a woman winning Best Director can be twisted to be OK as soon as you give one out! Did Campion not win for the Piano (obv she didn't, that just surprised me). Apparently the last film Kurt Kobain watched before he died...

mms
09-03-2010, 07:52 PM
if you want to watch a recent film about that protests against the iraq war and the brutality of US colonialism go watch Avatar.

Mr. Tea
09-03-2010, 11:33 PM
if you want to watch a recent film about that protests against the iraq war and the brutality of US colonialism go watch Avatar.

But that film is just as racist as The Hurt Locker! Um, according to John Pilger.

Case of "damned if you do, damned if you don't"...

massrock
09-03-2010, 11:41 PM
And Zizek.

http://www.newstatesman.com/film/2010/03/avatar-reality-love-couple-sex

mixed_biscuits
10-03-2010, 08:41 AM
It concerns a young rich person in crisis who gets his vitality restored through brief intimate contact with the full-blooded life of the poor.

Zizek knows why I have days off in Clacton.

JWoulf
10-03-2010, 11:13 AM
hardly straight up racist. Certainly defending the american presence in Iraq , and not a very good movie. But it's the "terrorists" who are depicted as inhuman, not the Iraqis per se, take for example the scene when he goes looking for the kid and ends up at the academics house.

gumdrops
10-03-2010, 11:26 AM
not straight up racist but def 1 dimensional. 99% of every iraqi on there is presented in a less than favourable light. obv its from the troops' perspective but even so, theres not 1 iraqi in there who is allowed to really speak, apart from the kid.

zhao
10-03-2010, 12:59 PM
there is next to zero positive representation of Arabs in Hollywood period. and have never been.

craner
10-03-2010, 01:30 PM
Lawrence of Arabia?

gumdrops
10-03-2010, 01:52 PM
anyone know of any films about The War On Terror from an iraqi/afghan perspective?

matmustard
10-03-2010, 01:59 PM
Lawrence of Arabia?

ha! together with the rest, long may your wit pravail.

routes
10-03-2010, 02:02 PM
this is Art Malik strapped to a missile in True Lies.

http://possumstew.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/true-lies-1.jpg

gumdrops
10-03-2010, 02:12 PM
good ol art malik. he was in the wolfman recently. glad hes still around. though my earliest memory of him was playing a husband who took his kids back to pakistan from their white mother. he must be used to getting the same old shit in scripts even though hes been doing this for decades.

Mr. Tea
10-03-2010, 02:17 PM
The definitive War On Terror movie:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ce8CgJRkr_I

zhao
10-03-2010, 02:57 PM
never wanted to see that as it looks as fucking obnoxious as the attitudes they are supposedly parodying. someone confirmed my suspicions by reporting that it does end up glorifying that which it allegedly criticizes... a dynamic we have seen time and again in hollywood movies.

Mr. Tea
10-03-2010, 04:17 PM
someone confirmed my suspicions by reporting that it does end up glorifying that which it allegedly criticizes...

I never thought it did this - in fact the only way I think someone could think this is just by a total failure to appreciate satire. It takes the piss out of both sides - of course, whether it mocks one side harder than it mocks the other could be debated ad nauseam - but it's not supportive of gung-ho US chauvinism on anything but the most superficial and obviously ironic level.

More to the point, it's funny as hell.

scottdisco
10-03-2010, 09:03 PM
On Hamas Al-Aqsa TV, Nahoul the Bee Replaces Farfour the Mickey-Mouse Character, Vows to Continue Farfour's Path of Martyrdom, Jihad

i love my comedy (http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/2296.htm)

scottdisco
11-03-2010, 09:30 AM
tb a bit more serious for a mo, and keep it more on-topic, something Gumdrops asked interested me. i don't know the answer to 'are there any films from an Iraqi or Afghan pov re the WoT' (what is drama like on TV in these countries? Padraig or Soof or Pstyle posted some things on the Iraq thread IIRC), but Michael Winterbottom is, at least, one of the few western directors who has made some presumably thoughtful films on these sorts of things. (tbc, i haven't seen any of the below, so i could be chatting out of my ass when i say the below seem to look fairly OK, but at least he's tackling important subjects.)

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/e0/Road_to_guantanamo_rejected_poster.jpg

and the below is about refugees, but they are Afghan, so...

http://images-eu.amazon.com/images/P/B0000AQVIC.02.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

http://moviestudio.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/mighty_heart_ver2.jpg

who's seen Generation Kill?
i saw one ep, which was good. really captures, i thought. there was an instance when a young girl was killed, and the American troops watched as her father carried her away, which was completely devastating. i can't speak for the rest of the show, but at least in that moment it was clear the makers were internationalist in their humanity, empathy and grief.

i saw a BBC report once covering Serbian TV doing a TVM about the battle of Kosovo. spraying dry ice around a field as extras advanced on unseen positions. i'd be well interested to see the end result of that...

gumdrops
11-03-2010, 10:34 AM
road to guantanamo is the one that was on ch4 isnt it? thats worth seeing but it can be a bit ambiguous.

not seen the others but im gonnoa add them to my lovefilm list. though i cant imagine the one witn angelina in is much cop.

not about iraq or afghanistan but if anyone wants to see a film about suicide bombers in palestine, then paradise now is a good one.

scottdisco
11-03-2010, 11:25 AM
yeah that movie you mention got a lot of press, might have to check it out, nice one.

i like Winterbottom's Welcome to Sarajevo incidentally.

The Terrorist is a 1999 film about the original suicide bombers, as it were: IIRC it doesn't explicitly say the young woman of the title is a Tiger, but the film's in Tamil, set in a patently south Asian warzone, etc etc, so it's fairly obvious. saw it once when it came out, can't honestly remember if i'd recommend it! but it certainly struck me. she doesn't give too much away IIRC, so if you're looking for some psychological portrait maybe not, but i dunno man, i was looking it up the other day and came across some (IMO) frankly pretentious blowhard who was putting the boot into it because it was a fairly superficial film he thought, and, well, OK, it's not a book is it, but the fact i am recalling it from a over a decade ago (trust me, my memory is shocking), might say something, FWIW.

(or you may think it's a horseshit film ;) )

incidentally, i just skimread this piece (http://www.chapelhillnews.com/2008/05/13/14481/film-about-suicide-bombers-presents.html) - concerning a more recent film about the LTTE, My Daughter The Terrorist, which the author contrasts w a film about IDF women soldiers, whilst searching for The Terrorist.
interesting audience responses re the Israeli film - To See If I Am Smiling (not seen it, me) - here (http://macsfp.wetpaint.com/page/To+See+If+I'm+Smiling), too.

i'd imagine Jolie gives a good performance in that film, actually, although, i ain't seen it, no.

me and mistersloane been going on about Johnny Mad Dog from last year or so, if you want contemporary war films. again, doesn't explicitly state where it's set as such IIRC, in the script, but there are many nods to Liberia, and in one scene a Liberian flag is clearly visible if i recall.
amazing film.

FWIW, i ain't seen THL, but i like what Padraig and Pstyle been saying about it, it sounds like it does a pretty good job. of course, the thrust of the criticisms are valid i'm sure about ignoring the Iraqi other, to a large extent, but, hey, i thought Black Hawk Down was pretty good, and whilst it would have been made better, perhaps, if we could have got a Somali pov in - and i don't want to sound facetious here but - that's why i read Justice for Africa and African Rights/HRW reports, you know? (scottdisco in states obvious middle-ground position shocker!)
if someone says OK, fair enough, but you're already lowering expectations w that sort of attitude, etc, fair cop, but, it is what it is.

scottdisco
11-03-2010, 11:35 AM
also can i add that NYT piece that Pstyle posted (nice one) about Bigelow's struggles to get it made was a really great article, cheers. and out to Padraig on it, once again, i remember you yammering on it on your blog and i was struck back then :cool:

vimothy
11-03-2010, 12:27 PM
Waltz with Bashir is good.

mrfaucet
11-03-2010, 01:08 PM
who's seen Generation Kill?
i saw one ep, which was good. really captures, i thought. there was an instance when a young girl was killed, and the American troops watched as her father carried her away, which was completely devastating. i can't speak for the rest of the show, but at least in that moment it was clear the makers were internationalist in their humanity, empathy and grief.

I really rate Generation Kill. It covers a lot of different aspects to the soldiers' experience and doesn't really neatly dovetail with any particular ideological viewpoint i.e. pro or anti war. For instance, you clearly see the soldiers struggling with the rules of engagement - 'don't shoot civillians but if you do then we'll back you' - and the difficulties they have carrying out a mission they weren't trained to do, but then you also see them describing the notion of dropping the atom bomb on Hiroshima as the coolest thing ever. Also gives you an indication of why there were such difficulties rebuilding/stabilising Iraq after the invasion. I haven't seen any mention of the speed at which the invasion was carried out come up in the Chilcot inquiry. Anyone know if it has been mentioned as part of the reason it was so difficult to rebuild the country? It's a recurring theme in Generation Kill.

vimothy
11-03-2010, 01:58 PM
I haven't seen any mention of the speed at which the invasion was carried out come up in the Chilcot inquiry. Anyone know if it has been mentioned as part of the reason it was so difficult to rebuild the country? It's a recurring theme in Generation Kill.

I don't think you can say that the speed of the invasion determined the length of the occupation; rather, the speed of the invasion and the length of the occupation are both symptomatic of US strategy going in.

mrfaucet
11-03-2010, 02:33 PM
Well it seems that there was this intent to move through the country and take Baghdad as soon as possible and this had the implication that the towns and cities that had already been captured were in fact left with no military presence. As I say, this is a recurring theme in Generation Kill - they race from one town to the next taking out the Ba'ath party before moving on and essentially leaving the town in destruction/chaos. Obviously the reasons for Iraq turning out as it did/has are complex and can't be explained by one thing alone, but this would seem to be part of any explanation.

vimothy
11-03-2010, 02:40 PM
So American strategic calculus vis-a-vis Iraq can be defined by:

1, "Shock and awe" at operational level
2, Disinterest in "Phase IV" operations: "we don't do nation building", etc

Tempo is a function of strategy, not the other way round.

padraig (u.s.)
11-03-2010, 03:06 PM
of course, the thrust of the criticisms are valid i'm sure about ignoring the Iraqi other, to a large extent, but, hey, i thought Black Hawk Down was pretty good, and whilst it would have been made better, perhaps, if we could have got a Somali pov

no one would deny it, including me. tho the THL isn't anywhere near as bad as Black Hawk Down in that regard. The Somalis are pretty much just an angry mob of black faces throughout the latter film, large of parts of which look like a video game. THL doesn't make a great effort to engage Iraqis, but it does portray them as individuals, instead of merely targets (excluding the two firefight scenes, obviously). I thought it treated Iraqis, or attempted, w/a perspective American soldiers ca. 2004 would've; suspicious, somewhere between not quite hostile and tentatively friendly, sometimes condescending, above all exasperated with their own situation. b/c, again - sorry to keep repeating myself - it was a film about American soldiers.

FWIW, the filmmakers hired Iraqi expatriates living in Jordan - where THL was filmed - to play the parts of Iraqis. tho someone will probably find some reason why that's merely another insult to Iraqis.


I don't think you can say that the speed of the invasion determined the length of the occupation; rather, the speed of the invasion and the length of the occupation are both symptomatic of US strategy going in.

well they're both kinda true. there was bad strategy going in, which directly contributed to the length of the occupation. the US military wasn't set up to do an occupation. at all; for a long while there simply weren't enough bodies on the ground to do the job ("just enough troops to lose"), a major reason why things fell apart. Tommy Franks' idiocy (there's really no other word for it) & Donald Rumsfeld's cocktail of incompetence & overarching hubris - all that shock & awe, rapid dominance stuff. also a wild overestimation of what air strikes alone can do, esp. bitter b/c the same exact thing happened in Vietnam, somehow it's a lesson that never seems to stick with Americans.

padraig (u.s.)
11-03-2010, 03:12 PM
Obviously the reasons for Iraq turning out as it did/has are complex and can't be explained by one thing alone, but this would seem to be part of any explanation.

no, it's a major part. Vim beat me to it, but you're just flipping the strategy & the tactics around. the latter follow from the former, which itself follows from policy. so really there was policy failure (on numerous levels) compounded by bad military strategy, resulting in a square peg into round hole approach. some of the other reasons are linked to that as well. rapid, comprehensive de-Baathification (as opposed to just removing the top/truly culpable people) really screwed infrastructure up, rebuilding efforts, w/out any kind of central purpose or plan, were badly mismanaged, etc.

vimothy
11-03-2010, 03:19 PM
^^ Well, yes. But in terms of causality, tempo was determined by strategy (such as it was). US forces didn't leave troops around to hold and stabilise ultimately because they decided that they didn't want to do that.

And of course, the unit in GK were light inf/Recon Marines at the very tip of the tooth.

EDIT: This post replies to padraig at 03:06 PM

EDIT EDIT: Think we're basically in agreement here padraig

Gavin
13-03-2010, 05:44 PM
Watched this last night. Agree that it's one-dimensional, cliche-ridden, and generally uninteresting. Somewhat shocked that a pro-war film (pro-Iraq War at that!) would win Best Picture in 2009 -- isn't the Academy full of hippies?

padraig (u.s.)
13-03-2010, 07:38 PM
please explain - not just Gavin, this is an open invitation to anyone who thinks so - how THL is pro-war & pro-Iraq War. specifically I mean, as opposed to simply declaring that it is or making vague allusions. I don't think anyone will have a good explantion, mainly because isn't a pro-war movie (at least not any more than Full Metal Jacket or Cross of Iron is a pro-war movie). people seem to be confusing "pro-war" with "not explicitly anti-war", i.e, not polemically anti-war enough for your tastes.

Gavin
13-03-2010, 11:51 PM
people seem to be confusing "pro-war" with "not explicitly anti-war", i.e, not polemically anti-war enough for your tastes.

And you seem to confuse what people actually say with what you think they seem to say. Discussion is much more satisfying when people engage with what's said rather than what a Marxist strawmn or whatever would say. But I appreciate you pre-empting any potential critique of casting Jordanians as Iraqis, a point no one brought up. One does wonder, though, with the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees in Jordan, why weren't they in the movie? Did they refuse? Did they have a choice?

On to my acceptance of your gracious invitation.

The Hurt Locker presents a pretty typical American hero: the reluctant one. He's unpretentious, highly skilled, unwaveringly moral but not a goody-two-shoes, and best of all, a workaholic. A QUIET workaholic. We are supposed to admire this man. Sure, he leaves his family behind, but this is merely evidence of THL's authentic grittiness -- any sitcom or male stand-up will tell you that each man's family is secretly his prison.

I think the utter lack of moral complexity in the film is what struck me initially -- there's no question as to whether James makes the right decision in every situation, even if he spices it up with some foolhardy machismo. Indeed, the soldier that hesitates to shoot Arabs costs the life of another soldier; James grins when this soldier "mans up" and "takes the shot" in a later scene. Compare this to the final scene in Full Metal Jacket and maybe you'll see why I think your linking of the two is ludicrous. FMJ to me is pretty clearly anti-war, really anti-military, though not polemical (Hollywood polemics of any leaning tend towards the execrable).

Add to that the way all the action scenes are shot as kewl videogame type simulations (i.e., fun), the aforementioned critiques of Orientalized Arab characters, the wealth of cliched characters (soft liberal college boy chaplain [blown up for being nice to Arabs], young guy who cracks under pressure, evil British capitalists, etc.), and you have a movie that is designed NOT to make you think. You are supposed to watch, enjoy, partake in some visceral thrill, ironize, rather than consider that this is a distortion of currently occurring reality that requires the complicity entertainment like The Hurt Locker engenders in its audience. This is the politics of "apolitical" war films. It's worth considering that in the face of almost unanimous critical acclaim the group with the loudest criticisms of the film are actual soldiers.

craner
13-03-2010, 11:54 PM
Hurt Locker, straight up sexy director

padraig (u.s.)
14-03-2010, 04:00 AM
On to my acceptance of your gracious invitation.

well I elicited your views, didn't I?

I don’t agree that James is portrayed as a “typical hero”. He takes stupid, unnecessary risks that endanger lives he’s responsible for. Those are not heroic actions. Antiheroic perhaps, tho I suspect you’d say that merely serves to make the character more appealing & hence more odious (tho at a certain point this becomes an impossible argument – if the normally heroic qualities and the “gritty” antiheroic ones both serve to make him more of a squarejawed Yankee, then what doesn’t…) Also, I didn’t read his grin as macho bloodlust at all, rather as a sign of reassurance to a scared, confused soldier under his command.

(nor do I agree that the qualities you listed are uniquely or even especially American. Most of them are widely valued across many cultures including, one might add, Iraqi culture. At least from the Iraqis I’ve known [Chicago, as you likely know, has a large expat pop]. Tho perhaps you’re saying the particular blend makes them American)

What James is, really, is a different stereotype; the white male iconoclast who bucks the system. So is Private Witt from The Thin Red Line & Captain Willard from Apocalypse Now, as well as Private Joker, though his rebellion is sardonic and smirking, which is the real difference between FMJ & THL. The former isn’t really anti-war at all; it’s only anti-military. Everyone is either stupid (the lifers & poges, e.g. the real enemy) or in on the joke (that it’s all nuts) & hence wink-wink, wisecracking cynical – this becomes even more clear if you read the novel its based on. (it’s also all, aside from the sniper, American POV, but no one has a problem w/that in this case b/c the POV is a “good” American, i.e. one you agree & can identify with) THL also says, if not as loudly, “this is madness”, but it delineates between policy and the military that carries out the policy, as FMJ does not.

As to the archetypal characters & war movie clichés, sure, there’s some of that stuff in that there. I thought the psychiatrist (the dude you thought was a chaplain) was particularly silly. The cinematographic style is just Bigelow’s style, which she’s had going back to Point Break & beyond. It’s certainly not videogame-esque in the way, say, Avatar is, & I think that’s kind of a ridiculous charge to make. To the charges of Orientalizing/racism, I refer back to what I already said upthread. It's imperfect & some more balance would've been nice (though it's still better than most war films...) but that's ultimately not what the film is about.

Ultimately, nothing you’ve said really contradicts the notion that your main problem with the film is that it doesn’t present your views. For a movie about the war to have validity, it has to say what you think it should. I’m not sure what exactly it’s “engendering complicity” in, either, given that we’re in the midst of a drawdown (that is, a gradual withdrawal) of American soldiers from Iraq. & the irony of people getting up in arms about this film, really. I mean, where was the f**king outrage the last seven years while this was actually happening? & when there were far more legitimate targets for that outrage…


But I appreciate you pre-empting any potential critique of casting Jordanians as Iraqis, a point no one brought up. One does wonder, though, with the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees in Jordan, why weren't they in the movie? Did they refuse? Did they have a choice?

I think you’re confused here. They did hire Iraqi expats/refugees to play Iraqi characters. Unless I’m misunderstanding what you’re trying to say.


It's worth considering that in the face of almost unanimous critical acclaim the group with the loudest criticisms of the film are actual soldiers.

those criticisms have almost unanimously been of flaws in realism or the incorrect portrayal of technical/procedural things, not politics.

(note: the Marxist bit was directed solely at 3BNP & no one else, tbc)

Gavin
14-03-2010, 04:45 PM
I don’t agree that James is portrayed as a “typical hero”. He takes stupid, unnecessary risks that endanger lives he’s responsible for.


No he doesn't. There are 0 repercussions for his supposed risks. He freaks out his unit, but that's it. He's exceedingly good at doing his job and never fails, unless you count not rescuing the Iraqi guy strapped with bombs at the end, but who really cares about him? Everyone else had already given up on him, once again proving the moral worth of James, and the overall good intentions of the invasion and occupation. We're there to protect Iraqis from themselves, but gee, it's really hard sometimes!



What James is, really, is a different stereotype; the white male iconoclast who bucks the system. So is Private Witt from The Thin Red Line & Captain Willard from Apocalypse Now, as well as Private Joker, though his rebellion is sardonic and smirking, which is the real difference between FMJ & THL.


He doesn't buck the system, he bucks bureaucracy. He achieves the same goals in his own individualist way, breaking the rules but getting the job done. Just like Batman, Dirty Harry, John Wayne, Kindergarten Cop, Axel Foley, Rowdy Roddy Piper, George W. Bush, etc. etc. This archetype is deeply embedded in American mythology.



Ultimately, nothing you’ve said really contradicts the notion that your main problem with the film is that it doesn’t present your views. For a movie about the war to have validity, it has to say what you think it should. I’m not sure what exactly it’s “engendering complicity” in, either, given that we’re in the midst of a drawdown (that is, a gradual withdrawal) of American soldiers from Iraq. & the irony of people getting up in arms about this film, really. I mean, where was the f**king outrage the last seven years while this was actually happening? & when there were far more legitimate targets for that outrage…


Ultimately nothing you've said responds to the crux of my argument, that this movie is smooths over the moral complications of fighting in an illegal occupation and asks no questions of its audience by presenting a romanticized view of the occupation. It's ideological. It should be critiqued on these grounds, not ignored. You know, like Fox News or a State of the Union address. But I guess this is "getting up in arms" which for some reason is unjustified in a DISCUSSION THREAD ABOUT THE MERITS OF THIS VERY FUCKING MOVIE in which I AM ANSWERING A QUESTION YOU ASKED. According to you even criticizing the way violence is portrayed is off-limits because "that's just her style," as if the director has no choice in how to craft a film! This is really nonsensical flailing on your part, and I have no idea why you would go to such lengths to defend this movie AND simultaneously slam the anti-war movement AND write off any notion that a movie about A CONTROVERSIAL, ILLEGAL, AND UNPOPULAR ONGOING WAR could possibly be political. I mean, what the fuck?

padraig (u.s.)
14-03-2010, 06:25 PM
There are 0 repercussions for his supposed risks.

except for the soldier who is shot & seriously wounded b/c of a stupid risk James takes. maybe you missed that part...? (the true hero of the movie, if any, is Sanborn - the black guy - but that's another matter)


as if the director has no choice in how to craft a film

the director does craft a film - that's exactly what I said. you, OTOH, are suggesting that this film -goes out of its way- to portray combat as being, in your words, "cool" and "fun". you're also saying that the only possible motivation it could have for doing so is to "romanticize the occupation", e.g. that the director's previous work, aesthetics, narrative, etc. (any non-ideological reason) couldn't possibly be on an influence on how it was shot. again, it can't be a film, it has to be, above all, a political statement, tho preferably one you endorse.


Ultimately nothing you've said responds to the crux of my argument, that this movie is smooths over the moral complications of fighting in an illegal occupation and asks no questions of its audience by presenting a romanticized view of the occupation.

one has to ask - what would a film about the war look like that wasn't "romanticized"? clearly our definitions differ greatly. The Sands of Iwo Jima, that's a romanticized war film. I get the feeling you'd only be happy with a film that portrayed all American soldiers as vicious & stupid. (or as cool guys like Joker who speak truth to power expository about the evils of the illegal occupation & so on) does it cover every single ugly piece of the war? Blackwater, Haditha, Abu Ghraib, WMDs, etc.? no. but does it claim to do so? or to be the single defining narrative of the war? no. you want to see a political message, so you're creating one. sure, it's pro-American soldier, but there is a world of difference - which you refuse to acknowledge - between that & being pro-American policy. the message of the film there is ambiguous, which seems to be your problem. I think many of the moral complications are present or implied without having to be shouted out loud

what questions should it have asked of its audience, according to you? (as if it were up to this film to tease out all the moral complications of the Iraq War) if you were saying "to make a film after Iraq is barbaric" & uttering a blanket condemnation it would one thing - I would disagree, but at least there would be consistency. instead, films can be made, but not only do they have to have a starkly mapped out political message, it has to be one vetted by you.

I'm not slamming the anti-war movement (tho, speaking from personal experience, not much of a movement w/r/t this war). I'm slamming the complacency of the large majority of Americans, irregardless of their politics, for the last decade. let him the shoe fits wear it; if that's not you, great. I do wonder about this illegal occupation - you'd have preferred that we left in the country in 2004 or 2005 (or whenever), in total shambles? keep in mind that this is not the same the thing as the initial invasion, which we all agree was a terrible idea. you'd have been fine with the consequences of that? you don't think Iraq is better off now than in 2004 (not that that is a justification for abuses, but nonetheless)? these are not rhetorical questions - I would like to hear what you have to say.

lastly, calm down. it's just the Internet. it feels like you're about to have a stroke.

scottdisco
14-03-2010, 07:32 PM
it delineates between policy and the military that carries out the policy, as FMJ does not.

a crucial distinction, made well.

scottdisco
14-03-2010, 07:33 PM
Waltz with Bashir is good.

i really want to see this, nice one V.

droid
14-03-2010, 11:31 PM
Disappointing. Suffers from similar problems. Plenty of hand wringing, but totally dehumanises Palestinians who have almost no voice in the film. As a film about soldiers it makes sense in an extremely narrow way. Otherwise its totally ambigious through its lack of context, both political and historical.

But as has been stated, what else can one expect?

scottdisco
15-03-2010, 08:21 AM
ah right.

i know Vim and i agree that J Sacco's Palestine is a very good attempt at fleshing out the Palestinian experience: and i know you are a big graphic novels man, Droid.

the last good sound/vision attempt at 'Palestinian life' i saw (and i don't see many, granted) was that (i think BBC?) British TV documentary about a tea selling lad.

IdleRich
15-03-2010, 09:34 PM
"Disappointing. Suffers from similar problems. Plenty of hand wringing, but totally dehumanises Palestinians who have almost no voice in the film. As a film about soldiers it makes sense in an extremely narrow way. Otherwise its totally ambigious through its lack of context, both political and historical."
I think that's a little unfair. It is from one person's perspective so it is going to be narrow and, as that person is an Israeli, it's unlikely to give the Palestinians much of a literal voice. The viewpoint you do get though, while it could be described as hand wringing ('cause really that just means regretful right?), is fairly sympathetic to the Palestinians. I haven't seen The Hurt Locker so any comments I make on that are obviously limited but I get the impression from what people are saying that it lacks even this kind of balance.

droid
16-03-2010, 09:50 AM
Hey Rich. Check out this review. Its OTM in my opinion:


To say that Palestinians are absent in Waltz with Bashir, to say that it is a film that deals not with Palestinians but with Israelis who served in Lebanon, only barely begins to describe the violence that this film commits against Palestinians. There is nothing interesting or new in the depiction of Palestinians -- they have no names, they don't speak, they are anonymous. But they are not simply faceless victims. Instead, the victims in the story that Waltz with Bashir tells are Israeli soldiers. Their anguish, their questioning, their confusion, their pain -- it is this that is intended to pull us. The rotoscope animation is beautifully done, the facial expressions so engaging, subtle and torn, we find ourselves grimacing and gasping at the trials and tribulations of the young Israeli soldiers and their older agonizing selves. We don't see Palestinian facial expressions; only a lingering on dead, anonymous faces. So while Palestinians are never fully human, Israelis are, and indeed are humanized through the course of the film.

We most often see Palestinians -- when we do see them -- being blown to pieces or lying dead, but there is one scene where mourning Palestinian women occupy a street. They don't speak; they cry and shout. We don't see the hard lines of their grief, we don't see their tears. Rather, the focus zooms into the face of the younger Folman watching them as his breathing becomes more shallow, functioning as the emotional anchor of the scene. This is very typical of the film in that the suffering and experiences of Palestinians are significant principally for the effects that they have on the Israeli soldiers, and never in their own right.

Several critics have noted the real -- and horrifying -- footage from Sabra and Shatila at the end of the film. Indeed the only people portrayed in the film who are not animated are Palestinians in this footage. There is a woman screaming and crying. She shouts "my son, my son" in Arabic. She repeats again and again in Arabic "take photos, take photos," "where are the Arabs, where are the Arabs." But her words are not subtitled; she is just a screaming woman and her words are irrelevant and incomprehensible. So even in the same gesture whereby we are reminded that the massacre was no animation and it was a real event, the victims of that massacre are presented to us in a way that is deeply dehumanizing and "othering." The coping of the wailing Palestinian mother cannot compete with the quiet reflection and mild manners of the Israeli veteran. Folman does not talk to any Palestinians and the only Palestinians we see are in flashbacks and this footage at the end of the film. Not only are Palestinians essentially absent then, they are also of one time -- Sabra and Shatila. Palestinians are not part of time's passage; they are frozen in an incomprehensible, and in effect inaudible, wail.

It is not that the absence of Palestinians is necessarily a problem per se. There are indeed films where what is absent is key, and therefore has a presence that is all the more significant. In Alfred Hitchcock's classic Rebecca, for example, the haunting absence of the true central character, the traces of her, the allusions to her, make Rebecca all the more present. Not so with the Palestinians in Waltz with Bashir. They are peripheral to the story of the emotional life of Israeli veterans, a story of Israeli self-discovery and redemption. Indeed, it transpires that the filmmaker does not need to find out about Sabra and Shatila for a full understanding of his own role there, of what happened, of his responsibility, of truth. Rather, Sabra and Shatila are a portal to "other camps." The psychologist-friend cum philosopher-priest-moral-compass tells Folman that this is in fact all about "another massacre," "those other camps." At this point it transpires that Folman's parents were camp survivors. "You were engaged with the massacre a long time before it happened," the psychologist says, "through your parents' Auschwitz memory." The solution that he suggests is for Folman to go to Sabra and Shatila to find out what happened. Everything falls into place. This is the meaning of Sabra and Shatila -- a means, a mechanism, a chapter in Israeli self-discovery and coming to peace. The Palestinians are doubly absent.

Folman's psychologist friend, like many psychologists one presumes, often talks in therapist mode, in addition to his priest-philosopher mode. He puts forward the idea that Folman suppressed the memories because his 19-year-old self -- with the Palestinian camps as simulacrum for those "other camps" -- unwittingly associated himself with the Nazis. But, he reminds Folman now, at Sabra and Shatila Folman did not kill, he "only lit flares." So while Folman has been teetering on the edge of an overwhelming guilt, his psychologist friend drags him from the precipice. Folman and his contemporaries need not carry the guilt of being perpetrators -- they were accomplices. They lit flares so that Israel's ally in Lebanon, the Phalange militia butchering Palestinians could see what they were doing.

The question of who was doing whose dirty work is not so easily answered however Israel was nobody's sidekick when it invaded Lebanon. The film does not show us the Israeli shelling of Beirut that led to 18,000 deaths and 30,000 wounded, the violations committed against civilians, the destruction of Palestinian and Lebanese resistance. And what about the fact that the Palestine Liberation Organization and armed resistors had been evacuated more than two weeks before the massacres, and that it was the day after multinational forces left Beirut that Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon made it known that 2,000 "terrorists" remained in the camps? The focus of Folman's quest for responsibility in Waltz with Bashir hones in on lighting the flares as the Phalangists "mopped up" the camps. That two months before the massacres Sharon had announced his objective to send Phalangist forces into the camps, that the Israeli army surrounded and sealed the camps, that they shelled the camps, that snipers shot at camp dwellers in the days before the massacres, and then having given the green light to the Phalangists to enter Sabra and Shatila, the Israeli army prevented people from fleeing the camps -- all of this is absent in Waltz with Bashir.

In the film, it is on the shoulders of the Lebanese Phalangists that responsibility for the massacres is unequivocally placed. The Israeli soldiers have qualms and do not act on them, the Israeli leadership are told and do nothing, while it is the Phalangists who are depicted as brutal and gratuitously violent. But just as this is not a film about Palestinians, nor is it a film about the Lebanese Phalangists -- it is a film about Israelis. The point seems to be to set up the young Israeli soldiers as morally superior to these blood-thirsty beasts, not only in that it was not they but the Phalangists who actually massacred and executed, but also in their very way of being in the world, they are superior.

In a moment of what is presumably supposed to pass as brutal honesty, one of Folman's friends remarks sadly of how he realized that he "wasn't the hero who saves everyone's life." Essentially this is the limit of the notion of responsibility in this film: the Israeli veteran's guilt at not having been a hero. The pain of having done nothing at the time, although there were stirrings in their consciences, even then -- which the film contrasts with the Israeli leadership, and most starkly with the Phalangists.


http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10322.shtml

droid
16-03-2010, 10:01 AM
ah right.

i know Vim and i agree that J Sacco's Palestine is a very good attempt at fleshing out the Palestinian experience: and i know you are a big graphic novels man, Droid.

the last good sound/vision attempt at 'Palestinian life' i saw (and i don't see many, granted) was that (i think BBC?) British TV documentary about a tea selling lad.

Yeah, Im big into Sacco.

RE: Israeli films - have you heard about this: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1113469.html

The overarching problem with American war movies, and all war movies is precisely the fact that they are set out to be 'one soldiers tale' and that 'all they were meant to be'.

Imagine a genre of film that concerned car crashes, but rather than being shown the victims we're continually bombarded with the POV of the joyrider, with whom we are meant to sympathise. Sure there may be passengers in the back telling the guy to slow down, there may even be genuine attempts to show what can go wrong when speeding around drunk in the middle of the night, but the end result is pretty much the same, empathy with joyriders, glorification of speed and adventure and willful ignorance of the fate of victims other than as ciphers on which to reflect the thoughts and concerns of the joyriders...

War is not adventure, its not 'Speed in Iraq' or cartoons in Lebanon. It's not entertainment. It's unwatchable heartbreaking misery:

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/4od#3048585

IdleRich
16-03-2010, 11:15 AM
"Hey Rich. Check out this review. Its OTM in my opinion:"
Some good stuff but I think it goes too far.


"This is very typical of the film in that the suffering and experiences of Palestinians are significant principally for the effects that they have on the Israeli soldiers, and never in their own right."
I'm not really sure that's true, we see the Palestinian's suffering and, yes, it comes through the viewpoint of the Israelis - as does everything in the film 'cause they are the narrators - but the suffering still comes through to the viewer. Most of the people I know who've seen the film have said something along the lines of "Crikey the Palestinians got a rough deal" and never "Oh, I never realised, a few of the Israelis were actually decent blokes who worried when they were blowing up innocent people" so if the aim of the film is to get that message across I would say that it's failed.


"There is a woman screaming and crying. She shouts "my son, my son" in Arabic. She repeats again and again in Arabic "take photos, take photos," "where are the Arabs, where are the Arabs." But her words are not subtitled; she is just a screaming woman and her words are irrelevant and incomprehensible. So even in the same gesture whereby we are reminded that the massacre was no animation and it was a real event, the victims of that massacre are presented to us in a way that is deeply dehumanizing and "othering." The coping of the wailing Palestinian mother cannot compete with the quiet reflection and mild manners of the Israeli veteran."
But it does compete, in fact it obliterates the "quiet reflection" of the veterans because it's that scene that everyone I've asked remembers and when they do they are definitely not in any way sympathising with the soldiers - they are sympathising with a woman in anguish even if they can't understand what she is saying.


"The solution that he suggests is for Folman to go to Sabra and Shatila to find out what happened. Everything falls into place. This is the meaning of Sabra and Shatila -- a means, a mechanism, a chapter in Israeli self-discovery and coming to peace. The Palestinians are doubly absent."
There is something in this.


"Folman did not kill, he "only lit flares." So while Folman has been teetering on the edge of an overwhelming guilt, his psychologist friend drags him from the precipice. Folman and his contemporaries need not carry the guilt of being perpetrators -- they were accomplices. They lit flares so that Israel's ally in Lebanon, the Phalange militia butchering Palestinians could see what they were doing."
Well yeah, but that's pretty bad isn't it? I don't think they absolve themselves of guilt by admitting only to that - and the fact that the rotoscope coalesces into horrible, real footage (the final scene I think?) is evidence of that. That point is the "realest" point of the film, you could equally well argue that that sudden realness cuts through the pontificating and reveals the reflections of the poor, traumatised Israelis for the insubstantial hand-wringing it is.


"The pain of having done nothing at the time, although there were stirrings in their consciences, even then -- which the film contrasts with the Israeli leadership, and most starkly with the Phalangists."
So the film says that the Israeli leadership were responsible after all?

scottdisco
30-03-2010, 03:05 PM
worth quoting normblog (http://normblog.typepad.com/normblog/2010/03/illiberal-imagination.html) (let me roughly outline two common responses to normblog that we would expect to encounter on a lesser board, but thankfully, this board i know sh/wouldn't entertain such juvenile claptrap: 'he's a prissy or precious writer who annoys me so i am not minded to take anything he says that seriously, though i might give this a look', or, 'he supported the invasion of Iraq and is a Eustonian, etc, Decentist, etc, therefore anything he says can be scorned'; i apologise for outlining this crude rejoinder at the start, but, hey, you never know...)


Is it possible to enjoy a movie, and more than that, judge it to be a good movie, when you think there's something wrong with the politics of it? This is one, I would say, that's not for John Rentoul's 'Questions to Which the Answer is No' series. The answer to it is so obviously yes unless you have a cramped imagination. Welcome, once more, to Slavoj Žižek, who's writing on the London Review Blog about The Hurt Locker. As I've already said my piece about the film, I won't repeat my positive assessment. But here's Žižek:

The film largely ignores the debate about the US military intervention in Iraq, and instead focuses on the daily ordeals, on and off duty, of ordinary soldiers forced to deal with danger and destruction.

After referring to a couple of Israeli films that I haven't seen and won't therefore comment on - in one of which, according to him, 'most of the action claustrophobically takes place inside a tank' - Žižek judges the focus of such movies as politically disabling and a mark against them:
In its very invisibility, ideology is here, more than ever: we are there, with our boys, identifying with their fear and anguish instead of questioning what they are doing there.

Now, Žižek's judgement of The Hurt Locker is itself open to question. The claim that it shuts any intelligent viewer off from questioning what 'our boys' are doing in Iraq doesn't square with the movie as I, and others, saw it. Furthermore, Žižek allows no mileage to the idea that 'dismantling terrorist networks' might have something to be said for it. These responses of his, however, are predictable. They are no matter for surprise.

What is more revealing is the assumption that a film set in Iraq that 'largely ignores the debate about the US military intervention' must be defective. Why must it? What if The Hurt Locker is (though I dispute that it is) too narrowly, exclusively, focused - on the mind and the job of a man who is a member of a bomb-disposal unit? Must that necessarily detract from its quality? This last question does belong in John Rentoul's 'Questions to Which the Answer is No' series. To think about movies in this way is truly cramped, the product of an illiberal imagination. If the thing doesn't include your orthodoxy, there must be something wrong with it.

I am put in mind of a movie I liked so much when I first saw it that I went back to the cinema the next night with a friend, in order to 'show' it to him, and then we both went back again the night after that so that he could get a second look and I a third. It's one of the great pictures of the 1950s: Elia Kazan's On the Waterfront. Subsequently I read a number of put-downs of On the Waterfront from French film critics of the left, who pronounced it to be anti-trade-unionist and an apologia by Kazan for his having given testimony and named names before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Did I amend my rating of this great movie? Strangely, no, I never have.

rubberdingyrapids
07-01-2012, 10:36 AM
shes doing it again -
http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2012/jan/06/kathryn-bigelow-bin-laden-joel-edgerton

zhao
08-01-2012, 05:17 AM
just saw HL and did like it mostly, for the details, for the mood, for the way it's made.

and it is without any doubts a straight up racist and propagandist movie which subtly yet certainly furthers US pro-war ideology through heroicizing US soldiers and dehumanizing Iraqis.

Gavin and Zizek are on point here.

and anti-heroes are of course, much more than anything else, heroes.

zhao
08-01-2012, 05:18 AM
shes doing it again -
http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2012/jan/06/kathryn-bigelow-bin-laden-joel-edgerton

i have about as much interest in seeing this as pulling the nail out of my left pinky.

slowtrain
08-01-2012, 07:40 AM
Yeah, that looks like utter shite.

I am saying this purely because if it is only about a year or so away, it means they have been working on it for a while already, and dude, how many months ago was bin Laden killed?

zhao
08-01-2012, 02:31 PM
if we lived in any kind of not even just, but simply less fucked world, Penguin would be publishing the collected poems and short works by Bin Laden. i hear he wrote science fiction as well. would be keen to read some but i doubt they will be available anytime soon.

slowtrain
08-01-2012, 07:50 PM
if we lived in any kind of not even just, but simply less fucked world, Penguin would be publishing the collected poems and short works by Bin Laden. i hear he wrote science fiction as well. would be keen to read some but i doubt they will be available anytime soon.

Wow, I would actually be kind of interested in that.

As in, just to see if he was doing something interesting, or it was all 'golden age of islam, flowers and whatever' fantasy world things....

Definitely be keen for the sci-fi though.

grizzleb
08-01-2012, 08:42 PM
Yeah I think I need to read some of that shit. There will be some quality (as in revealing) ideological shit in there if nothing else.

droid
08-01-2012, 08:51 PM
His sci-fi is OK actually. Certainly as good as most of the stuff that gets printed in Interzone and the like.

Mr. Tea
08-01-2012, 08:51 PM
Funny that he was into sci-fi. I read a perhaps slightly fanciful but very interesting piece in the Guardian years ago remarking on bin Laden's literary tastes and speculating that al-Qa'eda's ideology may have been influenced by Asimov's Foundation series and Frank Herbert's Dune. The latter does actually make some sense, what with all the millennial prophecy and messianic jihadi fervour.

http://i169.photobucket.com/albums/u230/ppcccaps/dune4.jpg

THE SLEEPER HAS AWAKENED!

(Unless OBL was actually just hacking out homoerotic Star Trek slash fiction, which would be kinda cool too, I guess.)

Edit: duh, post keeps replicating. Droid, what's his sci-fi like? Got a source for it? Would be interesting to see how it compares to AQ's salafist/Qutbist ideology.

slowtrain
09-01-2012, 12:01 AM
Yeah, I would also like a source.

Quick web search didn't reveal much.

droid
09-01-2012, 12:06 AM
John Eden sent me a pamphlet... Ive already said too much.

padraig (u.s.)
09-01-2012, 01:58 AM
and it is without any doubts a straight up racist and propagandist movie which subtly yet certainly furthers US pro-war ideology through heroicizing US soldiers and inhumanizing Iraqis

I stick by all of what i said two years ago. it's only a propagandist film to those for whom every film on the war must be, ironically, a piece of propaganda that adheres to their POV. if this was 1986 you'd be saying Platoon subtly furthered the cause of U.S. imperialism by failing to have someone stand on a table + shout "VIETNAM WAR BAD" for two straight hours. James ain't no hero nor anti-hero, he's just an asshole adrenaline junkie. go look at any reaction to the movie by actual Iraq War veterans (American ones, which should be clear, but I'm sure someone would say something if I didn't) and, positive or negative (there are both) + that's their unanimous opinion of him. the attempt to fix him in the square jaw JW/Rambo/whatever lineage is frankly, bullshit. + no it's not perfectly, or even well, balanced but it doesn't purport to be + since when was that a requirement for any kind of art and...you know what, fuck it. I reckon you won't be able to say anything Gavin didn't already say ten times better, but feel free to pick up where he left off + actually say something instead of just tossing buzzwords around.

($10,000 says if Werner Herzog - or Oliver Stone or whoever - had directed the same movie, literally shot for shot, you would be standing up + cheering it as a brilliant indictment of U.S imperialism)

padraig (u.s.)
09-01-2012, 02:58 AM
al-Qa'eda's ideology may have been influenced by Asimov's Foundation series and Frank Herbert's Dune. The latter does actually make some sense, what with all the millennial prophecy and messianic jihadi fervour.


I would be very interested to see some of his science fiction. the Dune thing (real or imagined) is especially fascinating. I mean the heroes are literally hardline millenarian jihadist guerrillas who topple a decadent, massively powerful but declining empire, install their own caliphate in its place + carry out a jihad across the entire galaxy. of course things don't so smoothly after that (the 2nd book is largely about fall-out of aforementioned galactic jihad) but still, it's like the Islamist equivalent of all those large-breasted alien women Cap'n Kirk made it with. can't you just see a teenage OBL beating it frantically over Paul Muad'dib crushing the Padishah Emperor...[uncomfortable thought]...anyway, I'm kind of shocked it's never been denounced by some crazy evangelical type as Islamist propaganda (speaking of that term).

I have a feeling OBL's political writings + poetry would a lot less interesting, tho.

zhao
10-01-2012, 05:39 AM
I stick by all of what i said two years ago. it's only a propagandist film to those for whom every film on the war must be, ironically, a piece of propaganda that adheres to their POV. if this was 1986 you'd be saying Platoon subtly furthered the cause of U.S. imperialism by failing to have someone stand on a table + shout "VIETNAM WAR BAD" for two straight hours. James ain't no hero nor anti-hero, he's just an asshole adrenaline junkie. go look at any reaction to the movie by actual Iraq War veterans (American ones, which should be clear, but I'm sure someone would say something if I didn't) and, positive or negative (there are both) + that's their unanimous opinion of him. the attempt to fix him in the square jaw JW/Rambo/whatever lineage is frankly, bullshit. + no it's not perfectly, or even well, balanced but it doesn't purport to be + since when was that a requirement for any kind of art and...you know what, fuck it. I reckon you won't be able to say anything Gavin didn't already say ten times better, but feel free to pick up where he left off + actually say something instead of just tossing buzzwords around.

($10,000 says if Werner Herzog - or Oliver Stone or whoever - had directed the same movie, literally shot for shot, you would be standing up + cheering it as a brilliant indictment of U.S imperialism)
jesus christ you are such a vindictive petty little man. and no amount of time spent on typing "well researched and articulated arguments" will ever change that.

i stated my perspective and opinion on a bloody movie (briefly exactly because a similar case has already been laid out so well), and you have to start with personal attacks?

and all your points are either wrong or way off but i am not going into it with you lol

padraig (u.s.)
10-01-2012, 03:01 PM
jesus christ you are such

coming from one of the most petty, vindictive flame warriors in the history of the Internet, whose entire style is based on ad hominem attacks (like, you know, this one), that's a bit rich. I really didn't intend a go at you personally - tho c'mon bro that was pretty tame, your skin must've gotten thin since I was around last - but I see it was heat of the moment, so to clarify, no shots (discounting that flame warrior one).

otoh I am attacking your casual parroting of something I think is very wrong, hell yes. but you're free to answer that attack. seriously, how can you just toss around words like racist, imperialist propaganda + act all surprised when someone calls on you to back it up? I really don't think you can but why don't you prove me wrong? "you won't get into it" snide dismissal is like the oldest, lamest copout there is. you're free to it I guess just know how lame a position it is to take.

zhao
20-01-2013, 05:35 AM
Not the least surprised. Of COURSE it turns out to be propaganda for the US War Machine, decontextualized and ahistorical "hero catches bad guy" cliche Bull Shit, the same way Hurt Locker was deeply racist cheerleading for State-Terrorism, how ever dressed up in a nuanced humanist costume.

Pure ideological brain washing in support of US crimes against humanity.

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/zero-dark-thirty-is-osama-bin-ladens-last-victory-over-america-20130116

rubberdingyrapids
20-01-2013, 11:21 AM
shes building up quite a body of patriotic cinema though am surprised she hasnt had more award nominations. im going to see zero dark thirty though i know it will make me angry like argo.

craner
20-01-2013, 11:34 AM
On the other hand, Zhao is alright with ideological brain-washing, terrorism and crimes against humanity when perpetrated by German Marxist-Leninists.

Patrick Swayze
20-01-2013, 04:47 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupation_(TV_serial)

I remember that being good (or at least well acted) but I was young when i saw it so maybe I missed potentially racist undertones? I suppose the private contractors are used to cast the army in a good light.

I fell asleep in the cinema during hurt locker.

rubberdingyrapids
28-01-2013, 09:42 AM
i saw zero dark thirty. its well made and all the rest of it, it actually better than hurt locker imo, if actually kinda boring in the same way as united 93 - you know whats going to happen, how its going to happen, to the point that i was unsure what the point of the film actually was. is it just to give americans/the west catharsis, a way to 'give closure' to one era of the war on terror? because the film didnt tell me anything new about bin laden, the hunt for him, the WOT, or care about any kind of wider political context, etc etc. im unsure why its being praised so much - its really well crafted and shot and paced, and so on, but bigelow is basically just making politically stupid movies that appear to be intelligent.

its a myopic story of one womans (well she is basically a representation for america) obsession and hunt for bin laden, every pakistani looks suspicious, the torture is never vindictive or racist but simply cruel but fair, harsh but reasonable ('i dont want to do this... but you know im going to have to!') american cia operatives, terrorists who no one ever knows the reasons for what theyre doing (not that im condoning what they do at all, but there is no acknowledgement that they might have a reason). no one clapped as it ended, which was surprising, but there were people laughing during some of the early torture scenes, which was pretty wtf. the terrorism is almost incidental actually, what its mostly about is one womans fight to be taken seriously, her obsessive resolve to finish a task, and lack of anything else going on in her life.

rubberdingyrapids
28-01-2013, 10:24 AM
basically although i dont think theres a frame in ZDT that isnt political, despite stupid critics calling it ambiguous - yeah right - i think bigelow should just stick to straight down the line action thrillers (preferably with characters of a right wing, conservative bias). whenever she tries to restrain her action instincts to do 'serious', she gets pretty ropey. so id like to see her do a movie in support of the NRA for her next one. the message would run along the lines of 'guns are bad.. but they get the job done'.

zhao
28-01-2013, 03:27 PM
On the other hand, Zhao is alright with ideological brain-washing, terrorism and crimes against humanity when perpetrated by German Marxist-Leninists.

The violence of liberation struggle, Winnie and Nelson Mandela, Algerian War of Independence, the history of slave revolts, (of which the Baader Meinhof gang are a misdirected distortion, only slightly belonging in the lineage), can only ever be a minor fraction of the pandemic systematic violence of the state.

so yes, absolutely, i am MORE than "alright" with violence against state oppression.

Mr. Tea
01-02-2013, 02:16 AM
A Pakistani view of 0D30 (http://dawn.com/2013/01/31/zero-iq-thirty/)

baboon2004
01-02-2013, 10:27 AM
The Pakistani characters were speaking Arabic? That's hysterical.

e/y
01-02-2013, 10:55 AM
http://mubi.com/notebook/posts/can-monitors-monitor-the-monitors-or-reality-as-an-extension-of-fiction-by-other-means

baboon2004
01-02-2013, 11:17 AM
Jesus, Jennifer Ehle - she dropped off the map since her heyday in the 1990s...

good article btw

IdleRich
01-02-2013, 11:53 AM
"The Pakistani characters were speaking Arabic? That's hysterical."
I read that. How could that happen?

craner
13-02-2013, 10:46 AM
I did wonder about the languages, but not speaking or understanding Arabic or Urdu, I had no option but to let that pass. I don't actually recall any long chatty local market scenes, I must say. Also, there were a lot of Arabs (not to mention Uzbeks and Chechens) in those areas at a certain time.

I thought this was a very good film, and I don't recognise the thing that rubberdingyrapids describes at all. Myopic? Not really. The Maya character is clearly shown to be one agent among many following their own leads, trying to convince their superiors and colleagues of the validity of those leads (and sources) and usually failing. The CIA is shown to be something close to what it is: a purveyor of assessed intelligence that is has to sell to cautious, sceptical administrations (with one notable exception). Line from an Obamoid: "My political response is 'fuck you.' I was in the room when your previous boss sold us Iraqi WMD", etc.

As for this, "terrorists who no one ever knows the reasons for what theyre doing." I see that you were not paying attention, then. There's a key scene (early on) when Maya and Jessica cross swords on tactics and tradecraft (it's brief, I admit). Maya's basic contention is that you can't simply bribe jihadis: money can't buy out ideology, although (she concedes) that did work well in the Cold War; thank you, the elder spook replies, sarcastically. This is not a film uninformed by reasons or motive, unless you're too dull to notice; with its snappy textual abbreviations (ISI, UBL, etc.) it rather presumes the audience will know its way around A-Q ideology, Pakistani politics, the significance of the FATA, U.S. military divisions, and so on. There's no point in slowing down to explain all of these things.

I think, in the space of a taught action thriller, with allowances for dramatisation and military and linguistic inaccuracies, Bigelow did a rather good job of depicting the political context of agency and military operations: both the tensions and connections. The almost imperceptible change in tone from the early Bush era ("enhanced interrogation", torture, black sites) to the Obama shift (and shiftiness) is accomplished in a fairly subtle way: there is a good moment, for example, when the agents are all talking in a back-room in the Islamabad compound while an Obama presidential speech unspools in the background. The candidate says, suddenly, that his administration will not condone or engage in torture and will punish those who do. The agents all go quiet for one, two seconds, and then carry on talking. And that's it! There is no way that all the implications of torture are not at least conveyed in this film, even if they are not accurately presented.

Jennifer Ehle is a revelation as Jennifer Lynne Mathews, but the eagle-eyed will also spot Mark Strong from Our Friends in the North and (most bizarrely) John Barrowman!

Racist? It’s about as racist as you are.

craner
13-02-2013, 01:29 PM
Just to add this: the essay-review e/y links to above is very badly written and rather overwrought but does link to an essay which is (in comparison) sublime and maybe the definitive thing written about the fiilm so far: The Monitor Mentality (http://mubi.com/notebook/posts/the-monitor-mentality-or-a-means-to-an-end-becomes-an-end-in-itself-kathryn-bigelows-zero-dark-thirty) by Ignatiy Vishnevetsky. One point to add to this essay is to say that, in a way, the torture scenes go too far: in their chaotic and libidinal sadism they conflate Abu Ghraib with the entire "Enhanced Interrogation" programme; as somebody more informed put it, these people couldn't just break off and do a quick water-boarding session for every wrong answer, as the film shows. It was systematic: brutal but bureaucratic. On the other hand, at certain moments in certain areas the sadism was as sickening as suggested, and there is proof of it. There is also the implied differentiation between national intelligence and security agencies (the logic behind 'rendition') and this is subtly alluded to without having to be CLEARLY SPELT OUT.

e/y
13-02-2013, 04:36 PM
I thought that essay was pretty off the mark, total garbage. Specifically b/c the main point that:


What emerges is a portrait of modern warfare as an elaborate technocracy. Torture, surveillance, and enemy action are all treated as data, which is then used to calculate probabilities. These probabilities form the bases for future actions, which yield more data. The cycle goes on and on and on.

...which yes, IRL it is, but it is not something that I saw in ZDT at all. If anything, and not surprising for a Hollywood blockbuster, it came off as stressing the importance of the human factor of w/e in intelligence operations (down to reducing the work of entire departments to the heroic struggle of a photogenic protagonist). I wish Bigelow had made a movie that did Vishnevetsky describes.


Within Zero Dark Thirty's mise en scčne, monitors and live video feeds become interchangeable with their real-world subjects. People become tracking device blips, shapes glimpsed through the spy planes, photos pasted on dry erase boards. Late in the film, Maya stands in the CIA's Predator control center, gazing at a wall-sized screen; in front of her is the ultimate expression of technocratic warfare—live video of a drone strike.

All of this has been done within the last decade by other movies which have put more stress on these elements.

also:


...an apparent inability to distinguish a work of fiction from journalism...

...wrt to Greenwald's piece of ZDT is complete bullshit - Bigelow and the dude who wrote the movie have repeatedly made claims that they are presenting an accurate, neutral portrayal of the events. They may not directly claim to be journalists, but they are trying to sell their film as being true to IRL events.

craner
13-02-2013, 08:47 PM
Ha, good, I'm glad you said that e/y, because I was reading it with envy, thinking "I wish I could write as well as that." Maybe it wasn't as good as I thought.

e/y
13-02-2013, 11:51 PM
Heh well I should be the last person to criticise anyone's ability to write. It is nice to read, but I think a lot of his analysis is very off, made worse by several glaring factual inaccuracies (specifically the thing about artistic license vs a journalistic approach).

Bangpuss
22-02-2013, 11:43 AM
I find it infuriating when political journalists attack a film for not portraying the world as they see it. True, blatant propaganda like Top Gun and Pearl Harbour needs to be flagged up as such, as do historical inaccuracies, and even the wider role a film like Zero Dark Thirty plays in the public discourse surrounding the events.

But when a humourless dogmatist like John Pilger compares Zero Dark Thirty to Nazi propaganda, he comes across as no better than the killjoy right-wing zealots who criticise sexually explicit films. Here's what he said -- he called Katheryn Bigelow, "the Leni Riefenstahl of our time, promoting her master's voice as did the Fuhrer's pet film-maker."

Now I think Zero Dark Thirty -- while gripping drama -- is a hugely problematic film politically. But comparing the director to a Nazi propagandist? Come on, John, you're giving people on your side of the argument a bad name. Unless political commentators have something insightful to say about films -- as Taibbi did for Rolling Stone -- they should shut up and leave the job to film critics, and hope the political significance isn't lost on the professional reviewers.

Bangpuss
22-02-2013, 11:55 AM
Let me just ask, though: besides whether the film 'glorifies' torture or not on an aesthetic level (I'd say it probably does), I can't remember if the crucial evidence Maya uses to track down Bin Laden in the film actually leads them to him. Because if it does, that's a straight-up endorsement of torture right there. But I honestly can't remember if the torture evidence they obtained was useful as the film portrayed it. Someone help me out with this one please, because I think it's key to an analysis of whether the film condones torture or not.

Either way, I'd say the fact that I'm having to ask this question means it wasn't very explicit, which is the central flaw of the film for me. If the torture information wasn't at all useful, and Bigelow wanted to make this point (as some have claimed she did, subtly), she could have done so more clearly, rather than hiding it in one or two lines of dialogue. Because don't you think, with such a dark and dangerous act like torture which has been at the centre of international debate for a decade now, and which is a central tenet of the story of the war on terror (and the hunt for Bin Laden), if it really wasn't useful to the central characters in the film's quest (and America's quest), that ought to be made crystal clear?

Some critics are saying it's a subtle repudiation of torture because the beatings, etc. didn't actually yield useful information. This is something I can't have been watching closely enough to notice. And I'm not the only one, because there are other people coming at it from the same point of view as me: I certainly don't remember this being the case. So if it's in there, it's a small (but crucial) point that gets lost amid a 140 minute film in which we're essentially rooting for the torturers.

Mr. Tea
22-02-2013, 12:51 PM
Ha, yeah I saw that quote by John "Hyperbole? I'd rather scoop my eyes out with a rusty spoon!" Pilger.

craner
22-02-2013, 02:21 PM
Maybe you were, I dunno, a bit distracted. I thought it was fairly clear. Torture leads to some useful information (the existance of the courier, Abu Ahmed) but it also leads to a dead end, because torture of further suspects (for example, Abu Faraj in Pakistan) leads to no new leads and the trail goes dead. The actual identity of Abu Ahmed is then deduced through some internal intelligence sharing and analysis, conducted against the backdrop of Obama's Drone War which (unlike the torture) is shredding and murdering a lot of people (a point not emphasised by the film, it should be noted).

So, this is where we stand in Zero Dark Thirty: torture can yield a certain level and quality of intelligence, but it is a brutal and ultimately self-defeating method with natural limits and diminishing returns. Analysis, intelligence-gathering and -sharing can lead to better results but are only as good as the sources and the raw data. It does not glorify torture on an aesthetic level. It does not root for torturers.

Bangpuss
23-02-2013, 12:27 PM
Thanks for the clarification, craner. That sounds about right.

I would still say that we're definitely supposed to be rooting for the torturers. Not necessarily when they're doing the torturing, but later in the film, the audience is supposed to be rooting for those very same people -- torturers -- to get their man. Of course, there will always be contrary bastards who are on the baddies' side in a movie -- usually the same people who tortured butterflies as children, it must be said. But to argue that Maya is not the protagonist in Zero Dark Thirty is to ignore the entire structure of movies and how they work, in which there is nearly always a protagonist to cheer for. Whether it's Bruce Willis in Die Hard or Maya the CIA agent, we're supposed to be on their side. And in ZDT, seeing as they're torturers, we're rooting for torturers.

As you explained in the plot recollections, I think the film is slightly more nuanced than the likes of John Pilger give it credit for. I think it does 'raise questions' about the moral line that's been crossed, albeit in whispers. But this is totally overpowered by the overarching narrative, which is wholly supportive of the CIA sadists. Maya is portrayed as a hero, isn't she? Flawed, but a hero nonetheless.

Now I come to think of it, Zero Dark Thirty may actually be evil, although for a reason I haven't heard voiced before. And it's this: if torture was shown to be useful -- a 'necessary evil' -- then you can argue it's the lesser evil and that's permissible. In fact, pretty much all pro-torture arguments are predicated on the stump that 'it works' in preventing greater atrocities -- the 'ticking bomb' scenario, etc. But I've never heard anyone say we should torture people even if it doesn't work.

So if torture doesn't work, as the factual accounts say it didn't*, and doesn't, and actually creates more enemies likely to bomb your cities, then to cheer for the torturers knowing that it doesn't work is just outright depraved. The movie doesn't go anywhere near an actual debate or exploration of how effective it was. There's never a moment when somebody explicitly questions what the hell they're doing, which no doubt must have happened, but Bigelow chose to leave out.

What Zero Dark Thirty does is turn us all into the sadists who rip the wings from butterflies, as we're strung along into supporting the people who do it.

*The info gleaned from torture was given up to the FBI by the same detainee before the CIA laid a finger on him.

zhao
24-02-2013, 02:12 PM
he called Katheryn Bigelow, "the Leni Riefenstahl of our time, promoting her master's voice as did the Fuhrer's pet film-maker."

As art/entertainment which supports, sustains, and furthers dominant ideology, of course a valid comparison can be drawn.