Print Story London Film Festival marathon: politics day.
By Tonatiuh (Fri Oct 24, 2008 at 03:40:55 PM EST) (all tags)
So yesterday movies were:

- W (George W Bush's biopic) @@ .

- Waltz with Bashir (animated documentary about the Sabra and Shatila massacres) @@@@@.

W (George W Bush's biopic) @@

If you thought you may know everything there is to know about Mr Bush I have news for you: you may be right.

We all know that Bush was a heavy drinker good for almost nothing on his early years, we know about his religious conversion, we know he presided over a group of people that were completely ineffective against a major terrorist threat and whose response was insufficient where needed (Afghanistan, international cooperation) and demented where it wasn't (Iraq, where it has costed an unaccounted amount of human misery the misjudged obsessions of the people in power in the current administration ).

So why was it necessary to go over all this again? OK, now we may know that GW Bush and his dad didn't really bond, and we know that Laura Bush was a librarian. Well, big yawn.

GWB is painted as what he is: an incompetent politician completely out of his depth, the most lingering questions after the movie is how the heck he managed to achieve anything at all, let alone becoming POTUS, given  that before the Texas tenure as governor he hadn't really achieved much on his life (it is hinted that his admission to Harvard was thanks to a generous dose of nepotism).

GWB must have some redeeming feature, something hidden that we don't know. He may fool the US people (after all 40% of them or more will vote for a formula that includes Sarah Palin, just to think about it gives me the creeps, so it is obvious that fooling the US populace is not really that hard) but how can he fool fellow politicians?

We see in this movie real footage of his defining "axis of evil" speech and how John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Senator Kennedy, and well, pretty much anybody, stood and clapped praising the infantile black and white vision of the world of the Prez that hears god on his head.

That would have been interesting, but as it is, this movie is an anecdotarium, neither defence, indictment or even attempt to explain what muddled the minds of all the US political establishment, who allowed this individual to run the show for 8 long years.

Don't bother, unless you frankly know nothing about Mr Bush there is not much to see here.

Waltz with Bashir (animated documentary about the Sabra and Shatila massacres) @@@@@

One region that Mr Bush forgot for the best part of his dismal presidency was West Asia, where these movie takes place. If you are youngish (lets say under 30) you may not know much, if anything at all, about the massacre of Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon.

You can google for it if that is the case, suffice to say that this is perhaps the most shameful chapter in the history of the Israeli army, who stood idle when they should have acted.

So the movie is about that, but from the point of view of the soldiers that were present on the day.

The political intricacies are difficult to explain because they are relatively complex, what is easy to understand is the human side of the soldiers that have been traumatized by the events, the realization that something terrible has happened and that their high command has decided to do nothing about it.

The most interesting point about the movie is not its political militancy, but the way the director decides to present his documentary: animation. The movie progresses as a series of interviews with witnesses of the massacres, animation of the people interviewed is used, instead of real footage. This opens a new world of possibilities for the director, who very cleverly starts the movie with a surreal ferocious scene that happens to be a dream, but that establishes the language of the documentary.

This way the director can freely illustrate the points his interviewees are making, intercalating passages of how the war was. without the need of real or re-enacted footage. If somebody describes a very difficult scene they went and put it in animation, which makes things much more engaging.

The final sequence in the movie is terrifying, I don't wish to spoil it for anybody, so lets say that the director understood that there was a need for closure, and it was exactly what was provided. I have never been in a cinema audience that was so transpired, shocked and moved.

The director did superbly in the Q&A  session after the movie, he is a clever, witty and engaging fellow who does not suffer fools, or media studies empty heads, lightly (for bunnies sakes, which part of "Q&A" is not clear? How it comes that there are people genetically impeded to ask a question instead of saying a mini essay?)

I wish him the best of luck, I think he has invented a new genre and this movie may become a referential classic for many film makers in the future.

Particularly important is that this was a work heavily supported by the Israeli Ministry with responsibility for artistic matters. An encouraging sign in what is sometimes a void of good news in the region.

Hard going and dense but an absolutely must watch.
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London Film Festival marathon: politics day. | 2 comments (2 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Thanks for these reviews . . . by slozo (2.00 / 0) #1 Sat Oct 25, 2008 at 03:45:44 AM EST
. . . I will have to see the second one for sure once it's out on video.

W by duxup (2.00 / 0) #2 Sat Oct 25, 2008 at 04:27:33 AM EST
I guess it might be interesting some day but I just find the whole subject too depressing to want to see that movie.

London Film Festival marathon: politics day. | 2 comments (2 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback