Saturday, August 19, 2006

Little Miss Sunshine and the Road to Guantanamo

My brother and I drove up to Salt Lake City last night for a double feature. We started with "Little Miss Sunshine" and then "Road to Guantanamo."

First: Little Miss Sunshine.

The one word review? Meh.

I tried holding it up to the standard of Noah Baumbachs amazing "The Squid and the Whale" (I would describe the films as "in the same league" as far as comparable budget, cast and intended audience) but the characters and situations were just paper thin and too focused on being edgy. The two high points of the film are Steve Carrell and Alan Arkin, but they're underused and it's sort of annoying. The plot revolves around a "Little Miss Sunshine" beauty pageant and it really feels like a structure forced upon the characters. I would have much rather seen a movie about Alan Arkin (a grandfather kicked out of a nursing home for being a porn-addled drug fiend) and Steve Carrell (A suicidal homosexual scholar) coming home to live with Greg Kinnear (a dickhead of a motivational speaker) and his family. All of those scenes with that dynamic worked really well, the problem was that there were only three scenes in the picture with that dynamic.

At the end of the day, I didn't feel like I got to know any of the characters and I didn't learn anything about myself or other people by watching the film (something that did happen with "The Squid and the Whale.")

(click on link below to read more...)

There was also the most obnoxious jackass sitting right behind me in the theatre, so that may have contributed to my distaste for the film as well. He laughed (loudly) at every joke, whether it was funny or not (mostly not), clapped (loudly) every time there was an actually funny joke (perhaps five or six times through the picture), loudly repeated funny one-liners for all in the cinema to hear and also tried predicting what was going to happen next (sometimes he was right, mostly he was wrong.) He also repeatedly kicked my seat and kept his feet up on the chair next to me. Nothing ruins a movie faster than having to watch it with an obnoxious asshole.

These people should be banned from the cinema.

So, after the film, we decided we had enough time to make it over to the Broadway for the 9:20 "Road to Guantanamo." Going into this film, I knew I was going to leave disgusted and pissed, but afterwards I was both horrified and physically ill.

The film follows a group of British Muslims (all ranging in age from 20 - 25 or so) who go to Pakistan for a wedding, hear that there might be some good they can do, helping war victims in Afghanistan and end up getting picked up as Al Quaida and spending two years at Guantanamo. Since their stories about who they were and what they were doing checked out, they were eventually let go, but that doesn't change the fact that we robbed them of two-plus years of their lives. The filmmakers made an interesting choice in recreating the treatment the "Tipton Three" endured and it was certainly powerful and effective.

All of this torture and abuse is occasionally juxtaposed with press conferences of Bush and Rumsfeld explaining how there's only killers in Guantanmo and how it's just a bunch of terrorists and how all of the detainees there are being treated appropriately.

Detainees live, quite literally, in dog kennels. They get five minutes of exercise per week. They are subjected to torture and interogation on what seems to be a daily basis. They are abused by their guards. (In fairness to the Marines, the filmmakers did depict a couple of soldiers with souls and feelings who were actually nice to the detainees, but these were the exception, not the rule.) They were beaten severely if they even spoke at times. They weren't allowed to pray. Soldiers would abuse their Korans.

It was disgusting and it made me realize how immoral those who supoprt torture are.

Torture is not a traditional family value. Denying people their due process rights, regardless of combat status, is not an American ideal. Holding people indefinitely without charging them for a crime or letting them speak to a lawyer is a totalitarian measure.

The founding documents of our country describe the American ideology as all men are created equal and have the inalieable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There is no distinction of ethnicity or culture or religion or country of origin. In our own Constitution, we have also laid the backbone for a system of justice free from tyranny of rulers who beleive that they can decide what is best for the country without the due process of law. Yet, people like George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld ignore these ideals in a way that is both disrespectful to the American people, unpatriotic and is every bit as immoral as anything the "terrorists" have done to us.

Terrorism is using fear and terror tactics to control a populace. If you have any doubt in your mind that what the politicians in leadership positions in our country is not, by that definition, terrorism, then you are as unpatriotic and immoral as they are.

The great thing about the movie, despite it's being extremely hard to watch without squirming, is that it sparks this discussion in people. My brother and I spent an hour and a half after the film trying to figure out how things got this bad.

That's a good thing.

What the immoral hawks in the government are doing is a bad thing.

If you support either torture or someone who supports it, then you can't possibly call yourself a Christian or a patriotic American.

Just a friendly reminder: Orrin Hatch supports torture.

1 comment:

the narrator said...

I just finished watching Road to Guantanamo and found myself constantly wanting to turn the damn TV off. Lately I've been trying to really hope that this kind of anger and hatred can't exist with civilized people. This movie didn't helping any.