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Kyle Smith (Twitter: @rkylesmith) is critic-at-large for National Review, theater critic for The New Criterion and the author of the novels Love Monkey and A Christmas Caroline. Type a title in the box above to locate a review.

Buy Love Monkey for $4! "Hilarious"--Maslin, NY Times. "Exceedingly readable and wickedly funny romantic comedy"--S.F. Chronicle. "Loud and brash, a helluva lot of fun"--Entertainment Weekly. "Engaging romp, laugh-out-loud funny"-CNN. "Shrewd, self-deprecating, oh-so-witty. Smith's ruthless humor knows no bounds"--NPR

Buy A Christmas Caroline for $10! "for those who prefer their sentimentality seasoned with a dash of cynical wit. A quick, enjoyable read...straight out of Devil Wears Prada"--The Wall Street Journal

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    “The Bourne Insufficiency”: Kurt Loder

    By kyle | March 17, 2010

    MTV’s dead-on film critic Kurt Loder puts his finger on exactly what’s wrong with “Green Zone” — no matter what your politics. It’s an “action movie with no sense of adventure.” The shaky-camming never stops — even two guys sitting at a table are “filmed as if there’s a riot going on.” That’s just on the superficial level. On a more thinky level, as Kurt astutely points out, the Special Forces dude played by Jason Isaacs is very much supposed to be the bad guy — whereas the good guy, the Sunni general, was presumably complicit in Saddam’s reign of torture and political murder. Well done, Mr. Loder. This is exactly what I mean when I call the film “anti-American” — the whole point of it is to rile up people who hate American actions in the mideast, logic be damned. You could make a much more interesting movie out of Iraq if you actually stuck to the complexities of the truth and the real reasons things went wrong. For instance, the de-Baathification program may have turned out badly (compared to what, though?) but it was not obvious at the time that it was a stupid decision. (“Saddam’s Generals Now Receiving US Paychecks, Training”–How’s that for a Times headline? Subhed: “US in Startling Shift from De-Nazification Policy of German Reconstruction”) There must have been a lot of smart people debating a lot of angles. What were they? That could be a movie. The problem with the standard liberal view of war is, there is no “compared to what?” Any casualty count above a couple hundred is unacceptable. Any occupation that lasts longer than a year is unacceptable. Any friendly fire casualties, strategic cockups, any profits winding up in the pockets of any companies are unacceptable. This is not a serious frame of mind with which to approach the messy business of war.

    In a way I think “In the Loop,” which is a sort of oblique black-comic-absurdist take on war in general, gets closer to the truth than the would-be documentary-ish “Green Zone.”

    Topics: Iraq, Movies, Politics | 8 Comments »

    8 Responses to ““The Bourne Insufficiency”: Kurt Loder”

    1. Robert P. Says:
      March 17th, 2010 at 11:22 am

      Am I the only one who thinks the whole “shaky cam” technique to make the film look like a “real” documentary just makes the whole project look one hundred times more fake and inauthentic?

      For example when watching Frost/Nixon, I didn’t marvel at the inserted “interviews” with characters in the film, thinking it gave the film a gritty documentary feel. All I did was marvel at what a lazy storytelling technique it was.

    2. blackhawk12151 Says:
      March 17th, 2010 at 11:38 am


      The shaky cam is a crutch for lazy, untalented directors masked as a “technique” to make the film look real. You are right about Frost/Nixon, I thought the same thing.

    3. Pete Says:
      March 17th, 2010 at 12:06 pm


      Respectfully disagree about the “shakycam”. Greengrass used it quite effectively in United 93 and Bloody Sunday (amazing film, btw). Possibly the two Bourne films began to overuse the device.

      Sam Raimi and the Coens used it extensively in their 1980’s films.

      Hell, Barry Levinson’s “Homicide” tv series used it effectively.

    4. blackhawk12151 Says:
      March 17th, 2010 at 12:24 pm

      I should rephrase. The shaky cam combined with the quick cut editing is what makes it really maddening. Just compare the opening scenes of the two latest Bond movies. Casino Royal gave us a beautifully shout, coherent chase scene. Quantum of Solace gave us an indecipherable assault on our senses.

      Children of Men is a film that uses the shaky cam well. The continuous shot through the battle at the end was especially well done, but that was because you could follow the action.

    5. kishke Says:
      March 17th, 2010 at 12:47 pm

      blackhawk: I too liked that scene in Children of Men. It was altogether an affecting movie, and far better than the book, in my opinion.

    6. Pete Says:
      March 17th, 2010 at 12:54 pm

      I might counter that Greengrass employed very good editors on both the Bourne films, where Quantum of Solace was not so fortunate. Think of it like swing musicians trying to play bop jazz without any understanding of the new genre.

      Children of Men used some very clever splicing in that battle scene.

    7. Pete Says:
      March 17th, 2010 at 5:42 pm

      hey blackhawk,

      Another good use of shakycam is the Hong Kong director Wong-Kar Wei. He compounds the effect by shooting with a telephoto lens in INDOOR shots and other trickery. However, it gives his films a weird energy to them (Tarantino is a champion of his work). Lately, unfortunately, he’s turned into a neo-Kubrick, making impenetrable but beautifully made pictures.

    8. Kevin W. Says:
      March 17th, 2010 at 8:31 pm

      Someday there will be an entertaining, insightful, and balanced film about the Iraq war. But not today. It’s funny how WW2 movies were all rah-rah patriotic and somewhat of a whitewash during and just after the war, while later films showed the true horrors and were more morally ambiguous. With the Iraq war, we have contemporaneous movies that are tendentious and anti-American, and we have to hope for a fairer telling of the story down the road. Kyle, I liked your imagined NY Times headline. Can you imagine the uproar if there hadn’t been de-Baathification? The left would have whined, “We just spent all those American lives and all that treasure on removing a Baathist dictator, and then we PUT THEM BACK IN CHARGE?! You’re damned if you do and…etc.