16 May 2008


Guns scare the shit out of me. I've never shot one or even touched one (had the opportunity to in Alabama one summer with friends, but declined (I think they thought I was being ideological)). If it was my decision to make, I would destroy all guns. Invariably when I leave movies like "Stop-Loss," I will make this comment to friends: That movie was lame, but the way they portray the danger of guns is amazing. Blood Diamond comes to mind. In keeping with earlier posts, I missed this film in theaters, so I watched a pretty terrible bootleg copy online, at like three in the morning. "Stop-Loss" is basically a melodrama, so formulaic that you can predict each new scene down to the smallest of details, but there are several scenes where guns play a central role, and they all freaked me out.

Go here and click on the fifth video. It's the one with a dude with a buzz cut and no shirt holding a big rifle. It's intense, even at this resolution.

I found the ending of the film kind of frustrating.

Spoiler alert.

I guess I think it sucks that he just goes back to the army. I think it's realistic, and it doesn't necessarily cheapen the earlier drama. But it still kind of sucks. To me it presents a quite nihilistic view of human nature. Ryan Phillippe's character, Sgt. King, goes back to Iraq because he realizes he can't start his life over. He's obviously not against war as a concept, his flight is motivated by self-preservation, and the feeling that he's being treated unfairly. He goes back because he would rather risk his life than try to live it without his family, his hometown, and his country. I sympathize with the decision (who knows what I would do in his situation), but can't help thinking that the film-maker, Kimberly Pierce presents a depressing view of people (articulate, eh?).

Though I didn't care for the narrative of the film, I found the cinematography good and thought the acting was compelling (I don't really know anything about acting, but still). But it is most successful in it's unbiased use of an incredibly contentious political topic to produce a thought provoking narrative experience. The viewer is forced to wonder what they would do in Sgt. King's situation, a degree of empathy not often required by film.

I could also talk a lot about the representation of masculinity in this film, but I think I'll save it. I still need to download "Redacted" and "In the Valley of Elah."

05 May 2008


This video was sent a few days ago by a friend:

It's pretty funny, though gets kind of boring. The payoff is definitely not worth the buildup. But it is successful in its attention to detail, like the fake URL at the end, and the way it imitates the the grammatical constructions of "real" 9/11 conspiracy videos. I'm not sure if this is intended, but I think it is accurate in its mocking of making vague claims that aren't actually corroborated by the video--I'm never really sure what it is I'm supposed to be looking at in videos like this one:

(Interesting detail: the URL in this vid is also broken).

Like other, longer format documentaries, I am forced to question the motive behind these kinds of videos, the "real" ones at any rate. Real meaning they aren't jokes, like the first video. This video is so annoying to watch, with its glitch-y editing, it seems more like a stylized video art project than anything else.

The juxtaposition of these videos seems to capture the dichotomy of responses to the art of conspiracy theory. I find that most people are either quick to believe conspiracies, if not all, then some, while others are even quicker to make some sort of "mature" analysis like this one which was added by the editor to my brooklyn rail article: "Like all conspiracy theories, it taps into the powerlessness felt by the masses." I guess if I really had to think about it, I would probably be on the side of the editor, but I like to at least entertain the possibility of conspiracies before asserting my intellectual superiority over those who invent them. If nothing else, the creators of conspiracy theories, at least decent ones, are magnificent story tellers and fabricators, worthy of that much more praise for convincing at least the gullible among us that what they say is real. Much better than this guy anyway.