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‘Civil War’ gives journos their dumb Trump dictator fantasy

Is it really difficult to become a photographer? Maybe this is just the resentment of someone who is paid for their words, but to me it just looks like pointing fingers and shooting.

In comparison, this one is digging a ditch.

If Garland had spent a $50 million budget building the kind of desperate democracy fever dream that has stupefied half the country since 2016, he’d have built a “Battlefield Earth”-level We would have had a camping classic. .

The characters in Alex Garland’s new film Civil War are more than just professional photographers. war correspondent. This means pointing cameras at people being shot, burned alive, blown up, and picking up battered teddy bears from the rubble.

In this case, they don’t have to look for action in far-flung “shitholes” (as Nick Offerman’s modest but clearly Trump-inspired president/dictator calls them). It’s happening in their backyard.

It’s in a slightly more dysfunctional version of New York City that we first meet veteran photojournalist Lee (Kirsten Dunst) and her Reuters colleague Joel (Wagner Moura), now a three-term FBI agent. It is occupied by forces opposed to the fascist supreme leader who disbanded it.

Confusingly, it is also stated that Offerman’s personality has a tendency to order airstrikes on American citizens, which seems to be more of an Obama thing. I don’t think you can expect a British writer-director to know all of our customs.

Lee and Joel narrowly escape death at the hands of a suicide bomber who eats an adorable corn emblazoned with an American flag. In the midst of the commotion, Lee reluctantly helps Jesse, a clueless new cameraman, who ends up teaming up with both of them — as well as an old friend with a round face from “The Wreck of the New York Times.” At least they didn’t call it a “failure”.

This opening scene proves that war photography is, on the one hand, more difficult than regular photography. The point is that you, like the poor sap you’re covering, could be shot or burned alive. He could even end up in one of your competitors’ unforgettable, potentially award-winning photos.

On the other hand, this is a photo shoot in easy mode. Reality does most of the work. Absorbing all the human suffering gives you a sense of world-weary gravity that your average paparazzi doesn’t.

Sure, it hurts to be hung from a tree branch by your thumb or beaten like a meat-covered piñata for stealing beef jerky for your kids, but “testimony” Have you ever tried?

“That’s the job,” as the battle-scarred characters in countless battles say to their naive, young, tear-stained disciples, and as the battle-scarred protagonists of “Civil War” say: As he spoke to his innocent, young, tear-stained disciples.

“Civil War” is essentially a workplace drama, so all the shop talk makes sense. Dunst and his allies have one goal: reach Washington, D.C., and record interviews with beleaguered leaders before “Western forces” seize the White House and end the war. It’s something to do.

Despite the work-related stress, the Dunsts don’t seem to have any skin in the game. I have no spouse or children. There is no one to love on the other side.

So are the ordinary people they meet along the way, soldiers fighting for their lives and refugee families fleeing with shopping carts full of worldly possessions. Understandably, they don’t seem to care whether our brave professionals achieve their career goals or not. After a while, viewers stop feeling the same way.

The gory street fights, threatening rednecks with “assault rifles,” and real-life Dunst husband Jesse Plemmon wearing red sniper shades are all done to great effect. If it is asserted that “war is hell,” consider it decided. However, that’s not to say Steven Spielberg couldn’t have done better with his 25-year-old Saving Private Ryan.

And that’s sort of the point, since the movie says nothing about our current political divisions. If you take away the attack on the burnt-down shopping mall and the Lincoln Memorial, a “Civil War” could easily take place in Baghdad or Odessa.

If Garland had spent a $50 million budget building the kind of desperate democracy fever dream that has stupefied half the country since 2016, he’d have built a “Battlefield Earth”-level We would have had a camping classic. .

A motley crew of trans lesbians is held captive in an abandoned Victoria’s Secret by the remnants of the 103rd Hot Gun Girl Brigade. Rob Reiner wearing a terrible Bannon wig. He then introduces Keith Olbermann (playing himself) and murders a Proud Boy with his own tiki torch.

“What is so civil about a civil war?” a great American once asked. Garland’s violent but cowardly film is an answer of sorts.

It is rarely so vulgar as to reveal the liberal assumptions beneath the polite guise of impartiality. It produces some attractive images without providing any necessary context. The work waxes lyrical about moral ambiguity while refusing to consider the political nature of its own most cherished premises.

Is it possible for that to happen here? Garland and his crew are skilled enough to make it seem plausible. But why does it happen? What kind of passion drives everyday Americans to turn on their neighbors and tear apart the country we all love?

If Civil War has a theory, it lacks the courage to state it.

If you think about it, it makes perfect sense that we were forced to experience this catastrophe only through the eyes of the once proud Fourth Estate. Their journey through a divided America is as maddeningly dull and curious as anything you’d see on CNN.

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