Review: The Devil Came on Horseback

July 25, 2007

Eyewitness account of the genocide in Darfur. Passionate documentary makes a methodical and persuasive case for international action.

After leaving the service, former Marine Captain Brian Steidle signed up as an unarmed military observer for the African Union. Starting in 2004, he led a three-man patrol to investigate claims of genocide in Sudan. A cease-fire there had supposedly stopped fighting after two decades of war. But a rebel attack on an airport in Al Fashir led to the expulsion of foreigners and a strict clampdown on the western regions of Sudan.

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Review: No End in Sight

July 25, 2007

Who decided how to wage war in Iraq, and what are the consequences today? Troubling documentary that draws disturbing conclusions.

Author and political scientist Charles Ferguson directs his first film like a case study, trying to show how decisions were reached about conducting the war in Iraq. By sidestepping loaded questions about whether the war is justified, Ferguson can concentrate on the nuts and bolts of the war plans. His conclusions seem as accurate as they are dispiriting.

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Review: Vitus

July 25, 2007

Child prodigy must choose between a normal adolescence and a career as a classical pianist. Low-key drama is a beguiling treat.

On the surface a routine family melodrama about the conflicts between a gifted child and his demanding parents, Vitus is actually a lot more interesting, and challenging, than its premise suggests. Swiss director Fredi M. Murer touches on the standard elements of a prodigy story, but is after much bigger game than a movie-of-the-week morality tale. There are many ways to interpret what happens in Vitus, all of them worthwhile, most of them troubling.

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Review: Transformers

July 25, 2007

Mutating aliens war over a power cube that could destroy Earth as we know it. Popular action figures get a live-action adventure mounted on an immense scale.

If games can become hit movies, why not toys? Introduced in 1984 by Hasbro, the Transformers franchise quickly grew to include comic books, cartoons, and the ever-expanding world of the toys themselves, metal and plastic objects like cars and trucks that open out into warrior robots. Molded with care and precision by director Michael Bay and an army of technicians, Transformers should provide a boost in income to every corner of the mutant robot world.

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