Thursday, August 23, 2007
In the Valley of Elah
It shouldn't bother us much when big screen stars patronize us daily with their moral superiority, or when they sound off on politics with inflated self-importance, or when they do all of the above while sporting the latest fashions trademarked by murderers like Mao and Che Guevara. It's all part of that frivolous pageantry that forms the background static of our national culture and without it we'd have to go back to thinking about something meaningful. It should only cause annoyance when the seriousness employed when sounding off in the public square inspires film. The "war as irrationality" stance taken by so many Hollywood elites may make for good posturing in the public eye, but produces terrible drama. Anyone who saw Troy, or The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, or Jarhead knows that the theme of alienation doesn't translate well to the screen. Who wants to see Achilles mope around like a disaffected teenager mourning the irrationality of war? Alienation may work in a Camus novel, but not in a movie. Combine the theme of alienation with the inflated sense of seriousness and self-importance and you have Paul Haggis' latest movie In the Valley of Elah. Haggis admittedly wanted this movie to be an important statement concerning the Iraqi War. I just wish Mr. Haggis would have confined his serious statements to the background static that we live with daily rather than awkwardly converting it to film. Read this interesting Variety article about the flick.