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Posted by on Oct 29, 2007 in At TMV | 10 comments

Movies About Americans Acting Badly


A Scene From Taxi to the Dark Side

Coming to a theater near you just in time for the holidays: Movies about Americans acting badly.

Film-makers are on a roll these days with movies like Taxi to the Dark Side, Rendition and Redacted. All have gotten generally good reviews at screenings but won’t compete with forthcoming biggies like a remake of Revenge of the Nerds and will raise the usual howls of protest that Hollyweird is run by America-loathing liberals, Clint Eastwood excepted, of course.

The story of a young taxi driver in Afghanistan falsely accused of being a terrorist provides the framework for Taxi to the Dark Side, a documentary examination of U.S. torture policies.

Rendition is the story of an Egyptian born terrorism suspect who disappears on a flight from South Africa to Washington and CIA analyst who is forced to question his assignment in an attempt to save thousands as he becomes a party to the torture of the Egyptian.

And veteran director Brian De Palma offers a montage of stories about U.S. soldiers in Iraq in Redacted, a docudrama that focuses on the gang rape-murder of Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi and killing of her family in Mahmoudiyah in March 2006, an outrage that I have blogged about at length.

With the Bush administration providing a steady supply of grist, expect more movies about Americans acting badly.

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Copyright 2007 The Moderate Voice
  • Rudi

    Yes we need to go back to the 1950’s “Family Values” days, when movies were good and we had WWII heroes like John (Gacy)Wayne. The good ole days, when blacks, women, Jews and Mexicans knew their place in America. Before the country clubs greens were cut by “wetbacks”, when ‘coloreds’ groomed the fairways and knew which doors to use. (end snark)

  • JSpencer

    I’m sure there is a steady supply of grist for movies displaying Americans acting with courage and compassion in the middle east too. Imagine the number and variety of stories there are that could be made into movies? About as many as there are people over there I’d say. Presumably, our troops are not little Bush/Cheney/Rumfeld clones with guns. Each follows the chain of command, but each also possesses individual character, conscience, and sensibilities.

  • domajot

    The flurry of ‘Ugly American’ movies represents, to my mind, a coming of age phaxe. While WWII procuced mostly idealized fairy tale movies that era was one of childlke faith, in general. We won the war, the middle class was growing like weeds, ant the optiimism left no room for considering our dark side. The hard questions about race and inequality were swept under the rug, not to resurface until the failure of Viet Nam and the ’60s.

    The upheavals of the ’60s were ugly and destructive, but they also were a growing up experience. It forced the nation to put aside the fairy tale version of ourselves.

    Likewise, today’s movies reflect the current era of feeling disappointed and helpless. To ask questions about where we wernt worng is an adult reaction, IMO, and much healthier in the long run than another round of fairy tale fluff.

    To be sure, a better balance would be welcome. In time, some form of heroes will return to movie making. We are in the mourning phase now, ant the silver lining is yet to be discovered and immortalized in drama.

  • Entropy

    Well, there’s a new Rambo movie coming out too….

    It’s about Burma no less.

    BTW, the video on the link above is definitely R rated.

  • Rudi

    Entropy – Does the new movie star 60 something Stallone the steroid abuser? Now Stallone is a role model and hero for todays cynical world. Even better than John Wayne.

  • Entropy

    Watch the video Rudy. Of course it’s Stallone. He makes a new “Rambo” knife with his own hands and then uses it to lop the heads off the Burmese military when he’s not gunning scores of them down. And yes, he’s got his hunting bow too. What’s not to like?

  • Rudi

    A 60 year old Stallone or Steven Segal are both non-heroes compared to the Buddist monks in Burma. Buddist monks standing up to a military dicatorship versus bad actors in cliche riddled movies, there is no comparison. Even SS liberal movies are stupid crap!!

  • No End In Sight seems like an interesting doc on Iraq that I saw on C-Span last night. Don’t know when it’ll be out, though.

  • Sam

    Stallone really had me in Rambo III when he took out a russian helicopter gunship from horseback with a flaming bottle of Vino. I’m really not kidding if you haven’t seen it, its cinema genius.

  • Bob Boldt

    De Palma’s Redacted redacted

    I am appalled to hear that Redacted has even itself been redacted. As if it were possible to further destroy the identities of the poor, maimed, dead Iraqis whose faces formed the background of the end titles in Brian De Palma’s film, now add the redaction of their images entirely. Are the cost benefit analysts working for the pharmaceuticals, automobile manufactures and the tobacco companies the only ones with any sense of risk or courage anymore? I prefer to think this has less to do with protecting the producers from legal action or the Iraqis from humiliation and invasion of privacy, than a monumental cowardice when it comes to confronting of the American moviegoer with a little too much reality. De Palma’s initial acquiescence to the insurers forced him to abandon the use of any actual documentary footage in the body of the film. This has already resulted in the Right Wing warmongers accusing him of “making it all up” because he restaged rather than using “real” footage. This colossal inability on their part to understand the difference between art and life is too outrageous to even deserve comment.

    What this chronic failure of nerve on the part of underwriters will do to the future of actual documentary filmmaking I leave to cynical speculation. I am convinced however that eventually the entertainment industry, corporations and the insurance pencil pushers will so lobotomize the creative spirit in this country, that the only artists left in our culture will be members of the Britney Spears Ilk’s Club.

    If you wish to see an unrepentant, unredacted piece of filmmaking that is not afraid of lawsuits and not afraid to show the real face of war, I recommend to you a moving three minute video on YouTube called “Kindertotenlied”.

    I hope that when the producers, whose footage was stolen for use in this video, finally get around to suing little old filmmaker (me), they will learn exactly how much blood can be squeezed from a rock (as opposed to Iraq). Abject poverty, ah my foes and oh my friends, does have its privileges!


    Bob Boldt

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