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October 1999, Week 2


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 12 Oct 1999 15:21:46 -0400
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>most other films out there, but it's not quite *that* cutting-edge

I think it was the reviewer in Salon who pointed out that the film's politics, such as they are, could appeal to both Bush and Hussein & that nevertheless without the action film trappings still probably wouldn't have been greenlighted by a major studio.  Russell meant well but having characters pondering aloud "What did we do here?" (as most of them seem to do) isn't quite the same as more useful concrete information that, say, Kuwait isn't a democracy (as contemporary polls revealed most Americans thought it was) or that US/allied forces often bordered on outright slaughter of Iraqis (who in some cases were using decades out-of-date armor such as T-34s) or even anything more than the barest mention of blatant censorship of journalists (which the film seems to override with its gadabout reporter fearlessly uncovering the truth).  Not that this should have been a documentary but even the action film structure apparently doesn't include any necessity for explaining just why any!
body should be helping the torture victim beyond escaping from that immediate situation.  Any idea whether he had actually organized torture or murder?  He doesn't mention any such activities in his brief biographic monologue though who would?  Action film logic is that he's initially a victim and so therefore needs to be helped, no important questions asked.

Not to sound too harsh because I still think we're better off with "Three Kings" than "Saving Private Ryan" (or even better off with "Thin Red Line" or Joe Dante's overlooked "Second Civil War" and "Small Soldiers" or even oddly Herzog's "Lessons of Darkness") but most of the real activity is stylistic and not political.


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