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July 9, 2004

Friday Aftrenoon Film Reads

Just collecting a few links to recent film articles and blog entries for future reference. First, GreenCine Daily directed me to Mark Richardson's "Polemical Posturing versus Feigned Naivety in Documentary" in The Film Journal. Richardson favorably compares Nick Broomfield's use of reflexivity in Aileen: The Life and Death of a Serial Killer to Michael Moore's use of it in F9/11 and Bowling for Columbine. I haven't seen Aileen yet (it's on the list), but it's an interesting take on how these two directors use reflexivity in different ways, although I'm not sure I entirely agree with Richardson's conclusions (I found Broomfield's Kurt and Courtney incredibly manipulative).

J.D. Ashcraft, an indieWIRE blogger, reports on an F9/11 panel he attended at the Enzian Theater. he notes that the panel debated some of the Big Questions, such as whether or not Moore's film should be considered a documentary and whether or not that label matters much, with one panelist noting that the classification might matter when it comes to the Academy Awards. Ashcraft does note an interesting phenomenon, in which one conservative guest took a lot of heat from the audience for what seems like a benign observation about the film's use of humor:

More than once, the seemingly conservative Peter Brown expressed contrarian views and was already getting grumbles when he offhandedly called the film humorous. The audience pounced, "What's funny about death and war?!" some members angrily shouted. People stopped asking questions and started just shouting out and stirring in their seats. All the panelists looked confused and it seemed to me things were on the verge of getting very ugly when Mr. Brown responded and, with help from fellow panelists and the moderator, calmed the crowd a bit.
I've found these responses to F9/11 increasingly frustrating, in large part because they seem to prevent real dialogue about the war in Iraq and Bush's foreign policy. I don't think it's possible to produce an objective documentary or non-fiction film about the war (or on any topic for that matter), but the true-false debates that have framed the discussion of the film are missing the real questions raised by the film about the decision to go to war in Iraq. Note to self: the F9/11 buzz will no doubt fade before summer's out, but a panel at Tech on a similar topic (documentary film, media and elections) this fall might not be a bad idea.

The cinetrix mentions a new book that I'd like to read, Operation Hollywood: How the Pentagon Shapes and Censors the Movies. The book "details the pernicious level of cooperation between the Pentagon and Hollywood. That's right. Your tax dollars at work." Interesting that Forrest Gump, a distinctly patrioitic film, did not receive any cooperation from the US military. She also mentions the new documentary, Gunner Palace, which focuses on a group of US soldiers stationed in a palace that once belonged to Uday Hussein (she also makes an excelelnt case in the comments that Three Kings is the first hip-hop combat movie). Also check out the interview with Michael Tucker in The Guardian.

Finally, I saw Spartan last night. It's an interesting take on the political thriller, implicitly critical of the Bush administration (although the presidential sex scandal may seem more Clinton-esque). Mamet still has trouble writing parts for women. Spartan very much presents a man's world, and none of the female characters, including the kidnapped president's daughter (she is kidnapped by a group in Dubai involved in the sex slave trade), are given mich depth at all. The Arab characters are all pretty much without depth and completely corrupt as well, which is another major problem in the film. It's still a pretty compelling movie, although while I was watching the final act I felt like the film was unravelling a bit. His other films that revolve around various schemes and conspiracies, such as The Spanish Prisoner, Heist, and House of Games are a little tighter narratively speaking. Of course the conspiracy in Spartan is so much "bigger" (in that it involves the President, the CIA, the Secret Service) that it simply can't hold together. Has anyone else seen Spartan?

Posted by chuck at July 9, 2004 1:49 PM

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Without a doubt ‘Uncovered: The War on Iraq - Interviews’ produced and directed by Robert Greenwald will not going to like that amongst the conservative U.S. and George Bush Jr. adherents, but this IS A VERY GOOD FILM. The War on Iraq was ... [Read More]

Tracked on September 18, 2005 6:53 AM


Yes I've seen Spartan but it's 1.30 in the morning so I'll save my comments for a later, more coherent time.

Posted by: Chris Martin at July 10, 2004 1:25 AM

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