“The XXXXXXX Report” (M) *** and a half
WATCHING writer/director Scott Z Burns’s two-hour long film, I couldn’t help recalling historical highlights from previous centuries of European occupation of that fair and beautiful land mass, that home of the free and land of the brave. White Christian is right, skins of other colours and other religions are lesser beings.
The topic of “The XXXXXXX Report” is the conflict between US government agencies over the application of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques on Muslim prisoners in the wake of 9/11. The principal players in the story, people so high on Uncle Sam’s totem pole as to be newsworthy, were newsmakers at its time and in its place. Its flavour is documentary performed by actors. Its substance is best described as information overload.
Adam Driver plays Daniel Jones, to whom Senator Dianne Feinstein (Annette Bening) assigned the task of investigating how the CIA was torturing prisoners-of-war with “beating, binding in contorted stress positions, hooding, subjection to deafening noise, sleep disruption, sleep deprivation to the point of hallucination, deprivation of food, drink, and withholding medical care for wounds… waterboarding, walling, sexual humiliation, subjection to extreme heat or extreme cold and confinement in small coffin-like boxes”. The film reconstructs sequences showing several of these (the end credits list many stunt persons).
How does it play in Australia? That will depend on how local media covered the story and how much attention we individuals gave to it. Characters and agencies in the film may well be household names in the US. Politics at ground level here is tiddlywinks compared with its byzantine American cousin.
I was glad to see the end titles start rolling. Not because the film is ill-fashioned – it certainly is not. But because of that information overload in unfamiliar and complex political territory.
At Dendy and Palace Electric