Sunday, January 26, 2014

Dirty Wars: A Sloppy Movie

When writing about a political documentary, it is difficult not to (as the films themselves tend to do) take one side of the argument or another. But that will be my intention with Dirty Wars. Instead, I will try to understand why the film turned out the way it did.
It's nominated for Best Documentary, so it must've gotten someone's attention. And Jeremy Scahill's arc is certainly interesting. Though his purpose is frequently underwhelming. He consistently returns to new tangents that have little baring on his original "mission." Yes, his investigation uncovers something frightening... a present day "Minority Report" of sorts in the form of JSOC. But getting to that ultimate realization feels intensely long and repetitive considering the film has only an 87 minute run time.
Essentially, Jeremy is a war reporter. So I must not forget that he is regularly putting his life in danger to gather information in order to keep us "civilians" informed. I appreciate his sacrifice. But the film, being a return to a thought rather than an in the moment realization, frequently left me asking "why didn't he do more?" He of course explains the difficulty of maneuvering through the media circus in perhaps one of the most interesting sequences of the film, but ultimately he still comes up short.
Rick Rowley made an interesting documentary with a near shocking realization at the end. But the extremeness of this particular situation leaves that "bitter tasting" moment deep in your digestive system rather than stuck on the tip of your tongue. I watched this film yesterday, and today I've practically forgotten its message.
Best documentary? I tend to doubt it.

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