Monday, January 21, 2008

Let's Go To The Movies: "Taxi To The Dark Side", "Able Danger", and "The Reflecting Pool"

I have no interest in movies, and no patience for them either. It's been more than ten years since the last time I watched a feature film without falling asleep. So I'm not in a position to write any movie reviews. But not everyone shares my aversion, and you may be interested in three soon-to-be-released works of cinema.

Taxi To The Dark Side was written and directed by Alex Gibney, who also made Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room. It looks at America's sudden post-9/11 transformation from a nominal proponent of human rights to the world's foremost supporter of torture, and it starts with the story of a young taxi driver.

NPR gives some of the background:
In December 2002, a 22-year-old Afghan taxi driver named Dilawar was detained and sent to Bagram Air Base for interrogation by U.S. soldiers.

Dilawar was suspected of involvement in a rocket attack against U.S. troops.
The New York Times has some, too:
Though Dilawar was never charged with any crime — and was never shown to have any connection with Al Qaeda or the Taliban — he was subjected to horrifically harsh treatment: deprived of sleep; suspended from a grated ceiling by his wrists; kicked and kneed in the legs until he could no longer stand.
Here's NPR again:
Five days after his interrogation began, he was dead.

The U.S. Army said Dilawar died of natural causes. Gibney [says] his death might have gone unnoticed if it weren't for one clue: a note, written in English, clipped to the man's death certificate and discovered by New York Times reporter Carlotta Gall.

It said: "Cause of death: Homicide."
The NPR page mentioned above links to an interesting interview and a clip from the film. The New York Times page mentioned above is a review of Taxi To The Dark Side by A. G. Scott. I think you should explore both of these links ... if you can stay awake.

I'm pleased to see the big media mentioning a film about torture that doesn't glorify it, even if the mention comes with the usual spin. Thus, NPR says:
The film was written and directed by Alex Gibney, who also made the 2005 documentary Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room — a portrait of another culture that ran amok.
Another culture? Hardly. It's the same culture. And it hasn't run amok so much as it's taken over our country -- and with Congressional approval. But NPR can hardly say that!

The other two films pertain more directly to the treason behind 9/11 itself.

Able Danger is a work of fiction, based on the factual terrorist network that directed and protected Mohammed Atta and the rest of the 9/11 "hijackers".

Unfortunately for us, this network was part of the US government, consisting of special forces and intelligence agents, put together by the Joint Chiefs and protected by the Pentagon. When its existence became known it destroyed all its data. It could have been the greatest scandal in US history but instead it was buried, like all the rest of the truth about 9/11.

The Reflecting Pool is another work of fiction about an investigative journalist. We used to have those, and they used to get paid for it! Right in our own country, if you can imagine!

You can read a review of Able Danger and The Reflecting Pool from Daan de Wit at Deep Journal. You can even watch trailers for both films while you're at it.

And finally, one for the irony department. A. G. Scott writes in the NYT:
Plenty of moviegoers would happily pay not to think about the issues raised in Taxi to the Dark Side. But sooner or later we will need to understand what has happened in this country in the last seven years, and this documentary will be essential to that effort.
The irony, of course, lies in the fact that the NYT has been a major force preventing us from understanding what has happened to this country in the last seven years -- and in the century before that, too, if anyone's still counting.