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This blog is the work of an educated civilian, not of an expert in the fields discussed.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Film: WMDs and George Hamilton

And Also: Providing one of my duties as a resident, I filled out my census form today. It asked a few questions beyond necessary by express demand in Art. I, but "Who questions the power to do this?"

Green Zone was an imperfect movie but overall has a lot going for it. My problem with it basically was its simplistic plot development -- at some point, including a key moment near the end -- it had a tired standard "good guy vs. everyone else" device. This includes him acting very recklessly (including in ways that were tragic, though the viewer seems to be invited to elide past them) to support what he thinks is right, which at some point starts to get hazy. You might feel good about the film being on the right side ("why we go to war matters!"), but self-satisfaction only takes one so far.

But, the viewer can also see the problem with this approach. This possibility, which in some way might be part of the point, helps save the film from some criticism.* As noted by a news clip at the link, the film also has various real vets serving as extras and military personnel. This suggests that the film is deemed by people (including an advocate who has popped up on Maddow et. al., who has a cameo at a military briefing in the film) that matter as an fairly accurate portrayal of events. No matter that a disclaimer notes that it wasn't based on any one in particular, comparisons to Judith Miller et. al. purely coincidental.

And, it does make some serious points on WMDs and on our role in the Iraq War as a whole. Two Iraqis have key moments in the film, something some critics of The Hurt Locker for lacking such a local voice might find appealing. It does this as part of an exciting thriller, its movie aspects acceptable up to a point as dramatic license in telling a deeper truth. I still think the film got a bit much toward the end, less believable, even if aspects of that part of the film hit home.

Meanwhile, I recently saw another 2009 film (the year still was not great, but did miss a few pretty good films the first time around) on DVD, My One and Only. Narrated by a teen who will become George Hamilton, it concerns an odyssey by a wife played by Renée Zellweger, who takes a cross-country trip with her two teenage sons to try to find a husband to replace the one she just found cheating on her. Finding a husband she feels she deserves repeatedly is hard, though she tries to keep her spirits up and sense of decorum in place. It is a good character piece, one of those smaller films that make watching film enjoyable.


* SPOILER: Matt Damon's character breaches orders and recklessly takes a few of his men into danger, leading to others (including a special forces agent we are led to dislike) to their deaths when the meet-up goes bad. But, his justification for going there ultimately comes off as lame when he tries to explain it to an Iraqi who is helping him.

The film does not seem to invite us to be too upset that U.S. military personnel were killed by his reckless actions -- it ends with him leaking the news that there appears to be no WMDs and how the U.S. government selectively took the word of someone who said there was. Really, he should be up for court martial. But, the viewer can also see what happened. How he acted recklessly in pursuit of the truth.