Dirty Wars. Is there any other kind? Probably not, but Dirty Wars is also an Oscar-nominated documentary and it's the download of the week — it's time to poke our heads outside the bubble of awesomeness we live in and see what the real world looks like (hint: it's depressing).
Dirty Wars follows investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill as he roots around the deserts of the Middle East and sniffs out some truly unsettling facts and observations surrounding America's "War on Terror."
Using (overusing?) Scahill's investigative process as a thriller-style narrative thread, the film starts with the aftermath of a US raid which killed Afghan children and pregnant women before following a trail of clues that suggest not everyone is playing by the rules, including the president of the United States.
Uncovering what seems to be missions where top secret U.S. death squads operate illegally in countries like Yemen and Somalia, Scahill paints a disturbing picture, albeit an incomplete one, of the real inhumanity and chaos left in the wake of the War on Terror. It's not an easy film to watch but it's also hard not to be drawn in to what looks like an incredible injustice. War sucks, but without films like this one who would ever know it? But now what?
On a lighter note, there is a war on good taste being waged in the Whistler Village 8 this week with the opening of That Awkward Moment. Zac Efron stars in a bro-mance/romantic comedy about three bafflingly wealthy high-fivin' white guys (except one is black) out navigating the perilous perils of dating in a world they just don't understand (aka the present). The mix of C-rate gross-out comedy and forced attempts to lure a female demographic works about as well as toasters and bathubs. Too bad because Efron is more talented than the scripts he ends up with and how can you go wrong with an actress named Imogen Poots!? This is how, skip it.
Also opening, Labour Day is the latest from Canadian writer/director Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air, Young Adult). It stars Josh Brolin as an escaped convict who seeks refuge in the home of a widow (Kate Winslet) and her 13-year-old son. Needless to say they both fall for his rugged charisma.
Adapted from some sort of bodice-ripping love/drama novel and set in 1987, Labour Day is hopefully better than the trailer makes it look. There's a shared moment while making peach pie that reeks of the pottery scene in Ghost and while the flick looks well crafted and acted, ultimately the cheesiness prevents me from wanting to dig in. Reitman is no slouch however so softer-hearted viewers might be quite smitten. Winslet, one of our finest actresses, is given a rather thankless role of pain and woe that (as is often the case in Hollywood) only a man can cure. I liked her better in Heavenly Creatures.
There are lots of great flicks playing at the Village 8, including Dallas Buyers Club from Canadian mastermind Jean-Marc Vallée (Crazy, Café de Flore). Matthew McConaughey stars as Ron Woodruff, a real life Texan diagnosed with AIDS in 1985. Shunned, ostracized and denied the medicine he needs, Woodruff teams up with a band of outcasts and establishes a network of alternative treatments, unapproved medicines and Jared Leto as a drag queen. This one is up for a bunch of Oscars and is worth checking out.
So is The Wolf of Wallstreet (Scorcese, DiCaprio, excellent) and American Hustle, an epic 70s-style con artist movie with not enough Jennifer Lawrence.