Thursday, January 5, 2012

Movies!: Green Zone

I don't watch enough movies.  I have Netflix and Hulu Plus, but I find myself just scrolling through the options, pausing on one or two that intrigue me, and then shifting my attention elsewhere because I can't commit to the couple hours it might take me to watch this thing I might not enjoy.  And this is dumb because I usually end up liking movies more than I thought I would.  So one of my many resolutions this year is to watch more movies.  It's an easy one, I think.

I watched Green Zone over at a friend's house during and after an awesome dinner of spaghetti squash in olive oil and tomatoes and some other stuff.  The movie mostly follows Roy Miller, a Chief Warrant Officer played by Matt Damon, around Iraq in the days leading up to Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech as he and his squad (squad?) follow leads looking for weapons of mass destruction.  They, of course, only keep finding empty warehouses because all the intelligence their commanding officers have them following has been coerced by torture or comes from otherwise unreliable sources and/or is just made up.  So Miller gets sick of risking lives in this ridiculous search, and he sets off on his own to find the truth about the WMDs.  He finds the truth and tells a reporter. The American citizenry is outraged.  The invasion is ended.  A full and thorough investigation is launched into who knew what when.  Iraq holds successful democratic elections.  Matt Damon walks off into the sunset with his fist in the air.

Some of those last few things didn't happen.

Actually there is a lot of shaky-cam action scenes, some terrible acting by Amy Ryan, who was Beadie Russell on The Wire and Michael Scott's love interest on The Office.  My girlfriend and I decided she needs good writing to act well, and I think this is probably true.  She's good on The Wire because The Wire is so good.  She was okaaaaay on The Office because The Office was okaaaaay.  And she was bad in Green Zone because the writing for Green Zone was bad.

I thought it was going to be a movie that told an important, under-represented part of the Iraq invasion, but it devolved into a bullshit action movie somewhere along the line--probably when this guy showed up:

It's unfortunate.  Green Zone's Baghdad feels claustrophobic and very real in a disturbing way (when the camera can hold still long enough to get a feel for the surroundings).  The movie reminds you that this was a city, y'know, with people living in it.  But nope.  The movie is a movie.  Matt Damon is Matt Damon.  It left me thinking of what Mary tells Kurt Vonnegut in Slaughterhouse V when she learns he's going to write a war story:
You’ll pretend you were men instead of babies, and you’ll be played in the movies by Frank Sinatra and John Wayne or some of those other glamorous, war-loving, dirty old men. And war will look just wonderful, so we’ll have a lot more of them. And they’ll be fought by babies like the babies upstairs.
Not to say that Matt Damon is a war-loving, dirty old man, but the point holds.  I think this movie wanted to be an invasion story, but it ended up just another war story.

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