Martha Bayles: December 2007 Archives
To judge by the bottom line, Hollywood's latest venture into cinema engagé is not resonating with the public. Autumn 2007 saw the release of four films claiming to tackle hard questions about hard power: In the Valley of Elah, directed by Paul Haggis, offers a nightmare vision of U.S. soldiers in Iraq; The Kingdom, directed by Peter Berg, dramatizes an FBI probe into terrorism in Saudi Arabia; Rendition, directed by Gavin Hood, focuses on "extraordinary rendition," the American government's handing over of prisoners to countries where torture is allowed; Lions for Lambs, directed by Robert Redford, accuses the news media of passivity and the privileged young of apathy. None has done well at the box office, so this trend may soon die out. But that raises a question: why haven't these films attracted a bigger audience?
Winged Avengers of the Jury, I stand by everything I have said about Martin Scorcese, and also about the verbal poverty of The Departed and many other contemporary sceenplays. And as evidence I offer the following
short version of Scorsese's well acted, skillfully produced, but substantively inferior rip-off of Infernal Affairs (the cool, classy Hong Kong original).