A look at tightrope walker Philippe Petit's daring, but illegal, high-wire routine performed between New York City's World Trade Center's twin towers in 1974, what some consider, "the artistic crime of the century."
Jean François Heckel,
Alex Gibney explores the charged issue of pedophilia in the Catholic Church, following a trail from the first known protest against clerical sexual abuse in the United States and all the way to the Vatican.
Using the torture and death in 2002 of an innocent Afghan taxi driver as the touchstone, this film examines changes after 9/11 in U.S. policy toward suspects in the war on terror. Soldiers, their attorneys, one released detainee, U.S. Attorney John Yoo, news footage and photos tell a story of abuse at Bagram Air Base, Abu Ghraib, and Guantanamo Bay. From Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Gonzalez came unwritten orders to use any means necessary. The CIA and soldiers with little training used sleep deprivation, sexual assault, stress positions, waterboarding, dogs and other terror tactics to seek information from detainees. Many speakers lament the loss of American ideals in pursuit of security. Written by
Not an easy watch, but an important and excellent film
Too few have heard of Dilawar. Those who have will probably never forget him. Alex Gibney certainly will not. His latest film starts and ends with this poor innocent taxi driver who, in 2002, was taken to the Bagram airbase in Afghanistan. Five days later, he was dead.
Dilawar's death was the spark which ultimately led to the international awareness of what the Bush administration was doing to its detainees in the war on terror. Gibney's film, however, decides to look up the tree, not down, to discover who was really responsible for these unpleasant developments.
Gibney's film is bolstered by frank and interesting interviews with some of the troops on the ground. Their remorse is clear, as is their disgust. And disgust is the right word. This is, by no means, an easy watch. The use of the appalling footage which has been generated by the recent conflicts is necessary because, if anyone is in any doubt about how morally reprehensible these tactics are, this film will make it abundantly clear.
However, this film's real strength is the structure of its attack on the tactics that are employed. Gibney demonstrates that the tactics used are hopelessly inadequate and never yield effective information. There is a cutting and brilliant comparison with the old techniques and the new where an interviewee, a former FBI interrogator, uses his old tools of interrogation words and you can feel yourself being persuaded.
This is not just a polemic. It is a human story and a powerful and well-constructed argument. It should be essential viewing as what has happened at Guantanamo, Bagram and Abu Ghraib should never be forgotten. This is excellent, important film-making.
4 Stars out of 5
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