Friday, March 16, 2007

"The Wind That Shakes The Barley"

Destined to be one of the best films of the year, Ken Loach's new drama opens today. Here are my scribbled thoughts on the movie just after seeing it premiere at Cannes. There was a fair amount of hoo-haw about the movie and its depiction of the British being one-sided or too stereotypical, which is absurd. (I speak as a British subject with Irish roots, a Catholic who despises the IRA.) First, the movie is NOT about the Irish versus the British in Ireland. The British play a very small role. It's really about the horrible cycle of violence, how killing the enemy (the British) leads to killing informers which leads to killing close friends and even your family. It is inevitable and brutal and dismaying, even if every step along the way seems right and reasonable and even necessary. Besides, the bullying treatment by the British, the beating of prisoners and so on is hardly historically inaccurate. And there's a balancing scene where one British soldier speaks bitterly and painfully about the situation they're in that makes you feel empathy for them as well. This is a movie in greys. The New York Times has a nice review by AO Scott.
But how silly is their revamp of the Times website. Nestled in the review was a video link, which I assume contained the trailer or a scene from the film. Instead it contained an AO Scott one-minute condensation of the very review we're reading. What is the point of that? Video should be value-added, not just the story you're reading boiled down in 60 seconds. An interview with the director, a debate on the politics, a glimpse of the movie at Cannes or a scene from the movie would be good. Just rehashing the very article you're looking at is moronic.

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