Monday, April 20, 2009

W./Road to Guantanamo

It has been a while now since I wanted to talk about Oliver Stone’s W. and Mat Whitecross and Michael Winterbottom’s Road to Guantanamoo. Stone recently screened the film in Singapore. As I had suspected, he told the audience that he had found it difficult to raise money for the 25 million dollars film (Why would mainstream Hollywood want to bankroll a project like W.?). Help came from various quarters, most importantly, from Hong Kong. Josh Brolin walked in when Christian Bale walked out at the last moment as he thought the make up was not working for him. Brolin is good in the film. Difficult to say it is the same guy who was in No Country for Old Men (2007).

What I loved about the movie was its straightforward narrative—a crooked man’s tale simply told still remains a crooked man’s tale. The bookending of the narrative with stadium scenes works amazingly. The film starts with a confident though wayward Bush and through the movie his character is transformed—he is “born again”. By the end of the movie, he leaves the scene confused and jaded.

Loved the way Richard Dreyfuss plays the wily Dick Cheney. If you see the war room meetings, you will know why Iraq was attacked. For vendetta and oil. Cheney’s character actually says there is no exit strategy from Iraq as there will be no exit. Permanent occupation. Is that the Neocon’s big plan—permanent occupation from Afpak to Iran?

Mat Whitecross and Michael Winterbottom’s Road to Guantanamo is a different ballgame. It is as searing and intense as it could get. And yet it is playful when it deals with a group of innocent guys from UK visiting Pakistan and Afghanistan. The bombing scenes are so real that you feel that you yourself are getting bombed—you feel dazed after watching those scenes. Some scenes (dehumanized Afghan prisoners, hungry, weak, over packed in little spaces) are so powerful, they seem like the perpetration of another holocaust—the only difference this time is that the victims are Muslims.

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