WFF: Day 1 (Friday, 10th October)

Belated post, I know :] As planned, I saw three films on Friday…

Full Battle Rattle

Impressions In Short
I thought it was excellent :) A very clever way of approaching the subject matter of the war on terror.
One of the biggest strengths of the film IMO is that it’s very difficult to suss what the directors’ opinion or political views are. A whole film about US army training and I have no idea whether they’re against the war in Iraq or not… Very unusual for an American documentary I think :)

Some Details
They spent quite a bit of time on telling the stories of the Iraqi people playing characters in the fictional villages. Many of them are refugees of the current war (shockingly, less than 400 Iraqi citizens have been granted asylum in the US since the start of the war!) and trying to get the paperwork required to stay in the US long-term. Some have moral dilemmas about whether what they’re doing is right - after all they’re helping the US army in occupying their own country. Most however feel that their work is good and important. By helping to train the US army they’re ensuring that less innocent people die. They also hope that they will live to see a free Iraq thanks, in part, to their work.
They tell some stories about Iraq itself, what it was like to live there before the war, how much fun the people there are. Many say that sometimes in this make-believe village they really do feel like they’re in Iraq again.
It was fascinating to see the reactions of the soldiers too. At first some of what they do and say is irresponsible. But eventually they are heart-broken when their efforts aren’t paying off, innocent civilians are “dieing” (the deaths are staged of course, but they have a sense that their actions might really lead to innocent deaths after they’re deployed) and they are very shaken when their own soldiers get “killed and maimed” by the insurgents. In particular the commander of the regiment is a great character to follow. He really cares about his men and the villagers and puts a lot of effort into understanding what needs to be done. Still, by the end of the film he seems to have a sense of failure. The training hasn’t gone as well as he would have liked.
Another very interesting aspect of the training to me was that it’s constructed in a way where gaining trust in the villages is extremely important. Communicating well with the village population is a key factor in winning, but is something that I think the soldiers are least prepared for when they enter the training. It’s interesting to see this being such a major part of their strategy in the Iraqi war and actually goes a long way in explaining why the military situation in Iraq has improved. In Afghanistan where the policies have been quite different the military situation has deteriorated. Apparently, they are now in the process of turning the Iraqi villages into Afghan ones. Lets hope US soldiers will soon be better prepared for Afghanistan.

Absolutely yes. It works very well as a film, so unless you’re not even mildly interested in the war on terror (is that even possible? ;)) I think you’ll get a lot out of it.


Polish Distributor: Imperial Cinepix (14th November 2008)
Director: Clark Gregg
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Kelly McDonald, Anjelica Huston, Clark Gregg
Production House: Contrafilm, ATO Pictures
Plot: (imdb)

A sex-addicted con-man pays for his mother’s hospital bills by playing on the sympathies of those who rescue him from choking to death


Impressions In Short
It feels like the material (the original novel by Chuck Palahniuk) was much better than the film.

Some Details
I am now confident that I do not like Sam Rockwell ;-P He just puts too much distance between himself and the role for my taste *sigh* In fact he’s one of the major reasons why IMO this film doesn’t quite work (not the only one, but still an important one…). I’ve been trying to remember where I’ve seen Rockwell before and I think I’ve finally solved the mystery :] It was Confessions of A Dangerous Mind. The weird thing is I didn’t even remember seeing the film and yet I must have because the still photos kind of look familiar and also I know I’ve seen one film directed by George Clooney and this seems like the only one I could have…
But I digress… Choke has some great dialogues (Kinga assures me they’re all taken literally from the book) and an appealing plot (I imagine it also closely mirrors the book :]), but as far as I’m concerned that’s about it.

Not really… I mean it’s ok, but IMO far from essential watching. I think I can recommend the book though - which sounds a bit weird considering I haven’t read it ;)


Impressions In Short
Having watched the trailer and read the plot I thought it would be a film with a short scene of explicit sex and a lot of hard violence. Turns out I was wrong - there was a lot of explicit sex and about one scene of hard violence ;)

Some Details
This was shown in the section for directors with one or two feature films made and well… I would have guessed the director was relatively inexperienced even without knowing that…
The script seemed rather crappy to me. A lot of the time when I heard the dialogue I was thinking “aha, this sounds very fake, you’ve put it there to tell me this and this about the plot”. The film did have a clear style to it though.
As already mentioned, lots of gratuitous sex and nudity (not that I mind really). Everyone in the screening hall had a bit of a giggle when near the end of the film the main character tells the journalist something along the lines of “aha, I knew all along what you wanted from me - it wasn’t information, it was sex!” and then they proceed with having gay sex.

Kind of interesting from a cultural kind of perspective, but I think most people would be happier skipping it :] So no, not really….

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