Good, Not Feel-Good

About a year ago, I posted an entry about a little known film called The War Within, which I admired for its refusal to satisfy our kneejerk expectations of a happy ending.

Now I have seen another film that does the same thing. Civic Duty is a UK-Canada-US production whose protagonist is not a Pakistani suicide bomber wandering around New York, but an all-American accountant, Terry (Peter Krause), who happens to be down on his luck. Having lost his job and with too much time on his hands, Terry becomes obsessed with the mysterious doings of his new Middle Eastern neighbor, Gabe (Khaled Abol Naga).

Terrifically acted, the film engages in too many pseudo-artsy camera tricks for my taste. But this is a small vice compared with its major virtue: a courageous script that, like The War Within, encourages us to draw conventional conclusions then yanks each one away.

Terry is a media-manipulated reactionary who carries suspicion too far ... or is he? Gabe is an angry Muslim but innocent of any crime ... or is he? There's no hero, though Terry's girlfriend Marla (Kari Matchett) comes close. But even her love for Terry and trusting good nature do not produce the Hollywood resolution we crave. And much as I love Hollywood, on this topic I prefer irresolution.

September 14, 2007 2:08 PM |



PRC Pop 

The Chinese pop music scene is like no other ...

Remembering Elvis 

The best part of him will never leave the building ...

Beyond Country 

Like all chart categories, "country" is an arbitrary heading under which one finds the ridiculous, the sublime, and everything in between. On the sublime end, a track that I have been listening to over and over for the last six months: Wynnona Judd's version of "She Is His Only Need." The way she sings it, irony is not a color or even a set of contrasting colors; it is iridescence.

Miles the Rock Star? 

Does Miles Davis belong in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame? Here's my take on his career ...

Essay Contest 

Attention, high school jazz listeners ...

more trax

Me Elsewhere

Edward Hopper 

Painter of light (and darkness) ...

Dissed in Translation 

Here's my best shot at taking Scorcese down a few pegs ...

Henri Rousseau Revisited 

"Henri Rousseau: Jungles in Paris" appeared at the National Gallery of Art in Washington this fall ...

Paul Klee's Art 

Paul Klee was not childish, despite frequent comparisons between his art and that of children...

Our Art Belongs to Dada 

Rent my "Dadioguide" tour of the Dada show (before it moves to MoMA) ...

more picks


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Martha Bayles published on September 14, 2007 2:08 PM.

Another Clueless Expert was the previous entry in this blog.

Success With Chinese Characteristics? is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.