The First Great Work of American Culture Inspired by the Iraq War?

Title, above, of a long skimming post at Daily Kos.

Video of Steve Earle’s referenced City of Immigrants.

Some corrective remarks, in my view, regarding the assessment of Three Kings: John Pilger’s view in Hollywood Hurrah.

Lists of Iraq and Afghanistan war fiction – novels, graphic novels, plays, film and video – also, nonfiction.

Upton Sinclair, Oil!, There Will Be Blood

Detailed overview of Upton Sinclair and his novel Oil! in relation to the recent film There Will Be Blood:

The usual rule among movie people is that better films are made from mediocre books than from great ones: so Francis Ford Coppola came up with a better version of The Godfather than Mario Puzo. The theory, though, is challenged by this year’s Oscar nominations for best picture. The Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men, an exceptional film, derives from a novel by Cormac McCarthy that is at least very good. And Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood, a masterpiece, is adapted from Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel Oil!, which, though not one of the greatest works of American literature or even one of Sinclair’s best books, is exceptionally impressive.

The Powerful Art of Polemics and Other Political Films

Caryn James

Not so long ago, the documentary feature category was among the snooziest at the Oscars, the target of jokes that said you couldn’t lose by making a film about the Holocaust. That backward-looking pattern began to morph when Michael Moore won the 2002 award with “Bowling for Columbine,” and exploded with last year’s win for Al Gore’s one-man show, “An Inconvenient Truth.” Odd though it sounds, Michael Moore and Al Gore have made the image of documentaries – O.K., maybe not sexy, but hot.

This year all five nominees are politically charged, four are about war, and amazingly, only one feels like homework. Spurred by global conflict and by technology that allows filmmakers to turn out movies in months rather than years, these works carry urgent messages. With their pointed arguments, though, this year’s nominees also raise an inescapable question: Can they have any real political impact?

They try in extremely varied ways. Mr. Moore’s “Sicko” is wildly comic while tearing apart the country’s health care system. Alex Gibney’s “Taxi to the Dark Side,” about American abuses of prisoners in the war on terror, is eloquent.

And even the less artistic films vividly present the faces and voices of people who have witnessed some of today’s most anguishing conflicts. Continue reading The Powerful Art of Polemics and Other Political Films

Propagandizing delusional and criminal mentality via Charlie Wilson’s War

Review by Jeremy Kuzmarov:

By sanitizing and distorting history, and presenting Western militarism as a force for good, films like Charlie Wilson’s War ultimately help to perpetuate the ideological mindset shaping continued foreign policy blunders and crimes of historic dimensions, which the U.S. public has yet to fully come to terms with. 

Mark Vallen on Bertolt Brecht and Mahagonny

Excerpt from Art for a Change

Brecht understood theatre not just as a form of entertainment, but as a vehicle that could help workers understand and analyze their political situation, he felt theatrical performances should appeal to reason and not simply give way to sentimentality. In the 1957 book, Brecht on Theater, the playwright described his theory of “alienation effect” theatre as being that “which prevents the audience from losing itself passively and completely in the character created by the actor – and which consequently leads the audience to be a consciously critical observer.” The original Brecht production of Mahagonny, as with his other plays, utilized various contrivances to prevent viewers from being lulled into a theatrical fantasy. Stage settings were deliberately sparse and flooded with harsh lights, with no attempt to hide stage lighting equipment. Slogans and explanatory text were projected upon stage walls, and actors carried placards onstage bearing political messages. With outbursts of songs whose lyrics drove home his political points, Brecht would use music itself to interrupt stage action.

Continue reading Mark Vallen on Bertolt Brecht and Mahagonny

Politics of the Bourne Ultimatum, and other movies

The Bourne Ultimatum: rejecting the CIA” by Hans Bennett provides an overly optimistic and perhaps false view of a number of movies and novels, to my knowledge. Is violence really “not glorified at all” in Bourne, the man and the movies?; Are the “critiques of US militarism and foreign policy” actually all that “remarkable” and “scathing” in these films, especially when taken in context of the films in their entirety? Seems rather dubious. Nevertheless, the article does point out some libratory instances.

Tinseltown much critical of Iraq War? – No, thank you

‘Prom’ Date: Play documents a side of the Iraq War 

J. C. Lockwood

Newburyport – Playwright George Larkin laughs when he’s asked, as a joke, how long he’s hated America. He’s heard comments like this before. In these politically polarized times, any writer dealing even tangentially with international or homeland security issues who is not sufficiently patriotic, not solidly positioned in the God-Bless-America camp, leaves himself open for attack — even in Los Angeles, supposedly the land of limousine liberals and America-lasters, where Larkin has been developing “The Baghdad Prom” for the past five years. Continue reading Tinseltown much critical of Iraq War? – No, thank you

Killing History Via Charlie Wilson’s War

Brzezinski and Charlie Wilson’s War

By Stanley Heller

Imagine, they made a funny movie about how the US helped turn Afghanistan into a killing field. It’s the film “Charlie Wilson’s War, a ligthearted look of how a skirt-chasing Congressman and a no-nonsense CIA thug helped bring mountains of weapons and money to the fanatic, women-despising “freedom fighters” who gave us 9/11. It’s certainly material for a “laugh riot”.

Great Review of Charlie Wilson’s War by Chalmers Johnson


“My own view is that if Charlie Wilson’s War is a comedy, it’s the kind that goes over well with a roomful of louts in a college fraternity house. Simply put, it is imperialist propaganda and the tragedy is that four-and-a-half years after we invaded Iraq and destroyed it, such dangerously misleading nonsense is still being offered to a gullible public. The most accurate review so far is James Rocchi’s summing-up for Cinematical: ‘Charlie Wilson’s War isn’t just bad history; it feels even more malign, like a conscious attempt to induce amnesia’.”

The Kite Runner – Reviewed by Laura Flanders

From Alternet

“Some will say it’s unfair to hold the movie of a novel to task for repeating the propaganda version of U.S. history, but the myth of the United States as macho rescuer is not only misleading, it’s deadly — for people in Afghanistan and around the world. Shed all the tears you like as you’re watching, but don’t leave the remorse in the cinema. Try as it might, Hollywood can’t purge our guilt, or dissuade us of the need to act.”

“reality-based community” – Suskind – Rove – Bush – Corporate Media

Scheherazade in the White House
Christian Salmon

George Bush’s war administration used a magician, Hollywood designers, and Karl Rove – presenting 1,001 stories to sell the invasion of Iraq. And Rove kept the distracting images of John Wayne-like morality tales spinning to help the American public avoid seeing the disaster in Iraq, says Christian Salmon.

Continue reading “reality-based community” – Suskind – Rove – Bush – Corporate Media