Feelings About The Green Zone and Handling the Truth

Hi, everyone… or anyone. Welcome back to my blog. Someone out there may remember I had a blog of the same name while I was at the LA Weekly, which, along with most of the paper’s history, at least the good parts, has been disappeared. Oh, well. C’est la vie.

For my first post I was going to write about the experience of seeing The Green Zone. Well, I guess I am writing about it, but I also came across Marc Cooper’s excellent post, which pretty much says everything I was going to say about it.  Here it is: http://marccooper.com/green-zone-must-see/

In case you don’t feel like clicking there, let me just strongly recommend the film. For the most part, it’s gotten a critical bashing (48 percent on the Rotten Tomatometer) including Anthony Lane’s withering review in The New Yorker, a digest of which appears here: http://www.newyorker.com/arts/reviews/film/green_zone_greengrass.

While I’m not the biggest Paul Greengrass fan in the world – he pretty much bludgeoned the art out of the Bourne franchise after Doug Limon got it off to such a fresh start— I have to disagree with the general consensus here. Greengrass, at least, had the balls to address the lies, corruption, ambition and immorality of the entire debacle, and it’s truly the most unfortunate episode in our country’s history since Vietnam, which says a lot considering our doings in Latin America in the ‘80s.  The only other mainstream film to so directly address the sociopathic nature of these eight years in Iraq is In The Valley of Elah, a film that suffers greatly from Paul Haggis’s hammer hands when it comes to dealing with morality. But, again, at least he had the balls to turn the camera on the pathologies that are endemic to morally bankrupt policies.

One of the main criticisms of The Green Zone is that it exploits war pornography – action and dramatic tension, in other words – in an attempt to appeal to the mainstream.  Okay, so what? Are Iraq war dramas, such as, say, The Hurt Locker, or Generation Kill, which do the same, but which dodge the central issues of right and wrong more sacrosanct? To me, they are just more pornographic. The Green Zone, unfortunately, perhaps, for the film’s shelf life, at least tells the truth and if it takes Matt Damon as a Jason Bourne redux searching for WMD in the early days of the Iraq occupancy to turn our attention back to it, cool.

Probably not going to happen, though. We still don’t seem to be able to handle the truth about Iraq, either at the Justice Department or at the movies. The Iraq War has been a graveyard for Hollywood, so at least some filmmakers and studios still have enough moral indignation to try to get us to give a shit (bad old Hollywood), more than we can say about Eric Holder or the Obama administration, where you’d need a microscope to see any policy differences from his predecessor on Iraq. I hope The Green Zone somehow finds a broader audience and continues to make it as uncomfortable and pissed off as the full house I sat with at the Arclight on Saturday night.