War, what’s it good for? Not necessarily movies
Director/Writer: Brian De Palma
Cinematographer: Jonathon Cliff
Starring: Izzy Diaz, Daniel Stewart Sherman, Patrick Carroll
Studio/Run Time: HDNet Films/Magnolia Pictures, 90 mins.
“Ain’t gonna study war no more,”
runs the civil-rights/peacenik refrain of “Down By the Riverside.” After seeing Brian De Palma’s Redacted
, about U.S. troops in occupied Iraq, it seems like an idea worth considering. “Don’t be expecting no adrenaline-pumping soundtrack,” the wide-eyed Angel Salazar (Izzy Diaz) says to the camera near the film’s beginning. Of course, it’s exactly what the veteran director gives us. Comprised of fabricated video journals, webcams, security tapes and embedded news footage, the film is breathless with its own “realism” and oversaturated explosions. De Palma delivers his characters—bullish dumbass soldiers, faceless Iraqi rape victims—without an ounce of nuance, sympathetic or otherwise, and ultimately only affirms (quite graphically) that war indeed makes for a very disturbing existence. For a war that’s been impervious to art, De Palma offers only artifice, his compromised realism nothing but tasteless shock in the face of a reality stranger and harsher than any film.