Topic: big media
To be fair we steered clear of this 2007 Hollywood new release because we expected it to be tendentious bleeding heart material. Worthy but boring. Now counter intuitively we gave it a go partly because we have trawled the DVD library forever now.
But no, if you enjoy the West Wing tv series, or Left Wing, as Republican's like to call it, then you will enjoy this 2007 film.
Just like WW the production values are high, as with casting, costume, cinema quality, credible actors, research, plot line. It's all there. We listened to the South African director's commentary. That's over four hours invested in watching the main show and again as commentary - and he would know the subject of torture from his own country's painful past. He reveals sources in general being ex CIA officers who "quit" over torture in rendition, and academics into terrorism regarding the "chilling" martyrdom speech.
Rees Witherspoon is surprising for buying into this cerebral centre lefty content - and she gives a powerful speech 'don't be one of those people who just turn away' to her buddy the senator's aid who buckles under the moral pressure. No wonder Witherspoon she didn't last with ex Ryan Phillipe though he is surprisingly good too in the true story Breach about a 20 year career of treachery by FBI operative Eric O'Neill. That's a centre right wing show - to be sure, to be sure.
Meryl Streep is outstanding as the hard nosed bitch too.
The water boarding scene in Rendition reminds of BBC film's 2004's Red Dust (only released in the USA in 2005) another South African related political drama about torture but so much more, of real merit with Hillary Swank and a Nigerian born british actor Chiwetel Ejiofor. We got teary watching both. Rendition can be bracketed easily with Lions for Lambs and Spy Game, and Catch a Fire and Blood Diamond. Also presumably Cry Freedom we haven't seen. All quality work in our view.
Rendition gets a 3.5 and at times 4 out of 5 from this writer. A worthy addition to a bevvy of thoughtful films leavened with action. It helps if one is nostalgic for Morocco street scenery, and the CIA character reminds of a suitably sceptical uni buddy etc.
So to read the wikipedia entry where some dufous at Rolling Stone said Rendition was the "worst" anti war movie made in 2007 ... well the guy is either cash for comment, an idiot or malicious. You don't have to be a Democrat or Republican, lefty or whatever to enjoy this movie. Assuming you are interested in alternative cultures and politics of torture.
Here is their entry:
"Roger Ebert awarded the film four stars out of four, saying that, "Rendition is valuable and rare. As I wrote from Toronto: 'It is a movie about the theory and practice of two things: torture and personal responsibility. And it is wise about what is right, and what is wrong.'" In contrast, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone applauded the cast, but noted that the film was a "bust as a persuasive drama". Travers declared the film the year's Worst Anti-War Film on his list of the Worst Movies of 2007"
Similarly with Red Dust, we noticed some dope and his very big fat encyclopaedia of films at the ABC Bookshop with a 2.5 stars out of 5 (?) for Red Dust. Or perhaps allowing for cultural variations maybe it was out of 4? 2.5 out of 4 still doesn't do justice to the production values, and legal drama as well as generally instructive content about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission issues. Again like Rendition it's for a fairly selective political audience but if you are in that segment it's top value from the local DVD shop.
Which just leaves the question why are film reviewers so easy to discredit? It reminds of the blarney over Nicole Kidman as the so called "porcelain doll" to suggest one dimensional quality in the latest folktale Australia. Which shows they never saw her perfect French African accent in The Interpreter.
And speaking of South African cultural outreach to Australia - it's obvious how much westernised populations there and here in Australia have in common. Something about the light, the landscapes, the wide open spaces, even for want of a better word, the drawl or ocker. Whether this is a good thing is another question but the echo is there.
Interestingly we notice in the suburban free press South African Jewish community in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney is quite significant running into the 10 or 15,000 mark, with an exhibition on at their cultural museum this month.
The multiracial/cultural South African cricket team is going excessively well here in Australia too. We notice the international solar conference is on in South Africa later this year 2009 also.