REDACTED (2007) : B.De Palma : 1?/10

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NY : REDACTED is vile. De Palma has evidently lost his marbles. I walked out.

Stirlitz : I don't think Redacted is vile at all; I find it to be a tremendously important film in the context of American representations of their offshore wars. Perhaps not the brightest De Palma and perhaps not his stylistic peak, but consider the following: After the Vietnam conflict all American fiction films depicting it (or its consequences) had one (terrible) thing in common: What links films like Platoon, The Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now, Born on the Fourth of July (the list could go on forever) is the fact that they all depict Americans as victims. It took Brian De Palma and his Casualties of War to twist this selfish, cynical perception and show who the real victims were: the hitherto forgotten or invisible Vietnamese civilians. History now repeats itself with Iraq. What again binds stuff like In the Valley of Elah and Jarhead is the fact that victims (those shown suffering) are again the Americans. And again Brian De Palma had to come with Redacted to show who the real victims are here. Which, come to think about it, is also the reason why this films remains so neglected and unseen in the States.

NY : The fact that I greatly sympathise – and very largely agree with – his intentions and political stance doesn't remotely excuse the disgraceful shoddiness of his execution or the juvenile flimsiness of his ideas.
There aren't many "name" directors who would have had the balls to tackle this kind of material, and I commend him for doing so.
But I utterly deplore the fact that, having so valiantly and audaciously struggled up onto his cinematic soapbox/lectern/pulpit, he proceeded to unleash such gibberish nonsense upon the world.
Basically, he blew it. I can forgive talented directors making bad films. What I can't forgive or excuse is good, intelligent directors making bad, flippant, inept, unintelligent, crass films on deeply serious, pressingly topical, urgent subjects – subjects which must be addressed in our culture and which, for depressingly obvious reasons, are usually shunted off to the margins (documentary / "foreign" film).
De Palma took on a huge responsibility by tackling this material – and then proved utterly unsuitable for the task. He has often hit political/cultural targets by aiming at them obliquely, using the cloak of genre. Here, he aims directly and blows off his own feet.The results, in my view, actually deeply discredit the "anti-war"/anti-Bushist position which you, I and De Palma share, and for that reason I reject and condemn Redacted utterly. With friends like Brian, who on earth needs enemies?

Stirlitz  : I perfectly understand and even agree to some degree with your anger (rage?); my "mistake" I guess for often favouring ideology over actual execution, although I really don't think the film is that sloppy. Another "weakness" of mine is that I often place filmmaker's intentions before and above the end result. I do think De Palma is being totally honest…

NY : It's not a "mistake" to favour intention/ideology over result/execution — just a different (and entirely valid) way of responding to art. I usually rely on my "visceral"/gut response to cinema – and when I'm left in a state of boiling, indignant anger by a film, I have to ask myself why. I can sit and watch Hollywood crap like The Game Plan or Dan In Real Life and leave the cinema just feeling as though I could have spent those hours in a different way. But Paranoid Park, Redacted or Khrzhanovsky's 4 actually have a negative physical effect, putting me in a (violently?) bad temper and/or making me (temporarily) lose faith in the medium. I'm willing to put up with that, however, because there are other times when I stumble dazedly out of the auditorium having experienced a positive physical effect – most recently Petzold's The State I Am In at Bradford on Thursday.
Rose
: Are you okay?
Reinette : No, I'm not. But you and I both know, don't we, Rose, that the Doctor is worth the monsters.
    (The Girl in the Fireplace, 2006)

Stirlitz  : Mentioned point totally valid, I guess it's just that I'm more willing to forgive the likes of De Palma or Van Sant. What physically angered me recently (almost made me sick) was Juno, violently malign and idiotic trash comparable to No Country for Old Men.

Neil Young
with thanks to 'Stirlitz '
9.Mar.08

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USA/Can
91m (BBFC timing)

director : Brian De Palma (Mission to Mars, Femme Fatale, The Black Dahlia, etc)
editor : Brian Pankow (Drumline, Assault on Precinct 13 [2005] The Black Dahlia, etc)

seen 6.Mar.08 Bradford