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|Index||35 reviews in total|
My biggest complaint with Morgan Spurlock's last film SUPER SIZE ME was
the inevitable feeling that you always got when a director
narrates/stars in his own work: the risk that what he says and does can
intentionally or unintentionally come off as really presumptuous,
sometimes resulting talking down to an audience rather than educating
or inspiring. This is even harder when making a film to appeal to a
broad demographic as you often have to entertain rather than provide
strict facts and it is a problem that documentary filmmakers from
Werner Herzog to, most obviously, Michael Moore have faced. However,
Morgan has found a fantastic balance: WHERE IN THE WORLD IS OSAMA BIN
LADEN? is a near-perfect mix of style.
In the beginning of the film we learn Morgan's wife is pregnant, prompting him to ask himself, "How can I allow my child to grow up in such an unsafe world?" Though definitely tongue-in-cheek, this average and perfectly legitimate question leads him to the question of global terrorism and he decides to do what anyone in any big budget American action film does: a stupid ordinary guy fights back. Using his wife's pregnancy as a backdrop, he travels to Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and finally Pakistan to attempt to come to the conclusion of where Osama bin Laden is.
As an American college student, I can safely say that I am aware that the United States' foreign policy has not exactly put us in a good image for the rest of the world. Morgan Spurlock investigates what seemingly completely different cultures think of us and attempts to break the barriers of what common American propaganda has taught us about the Middle East. He interviews civilians, military officers, poor people, rich people, various relatives of Osama and other known al Qaeda operatives, government officials, heads of departments, and just people on the street to try to understand why the so-called "war on terror" is really as ridiculous as it appears to be. He tries to dispel common stereotypes about Americans while at the same time learning more about cultures and religions that we ourselves grossly stereotype to learn that we're really not all that different.
The film's greatest strength is the fact that Morgan learns with the audience. It does not feel like he is preaching to you, but you and him are both on this journey, from speaking to the Jews about Palestinians and the Palestinians about Jews, to finding relatives of known terrorists who watch professional wrestling and having dinner with farmers in the ghettos of Iraq while discussing raising kids.
It helps illuminates one of the world's greatest disappointments: how the people who are the most extreme and the most negative are the only people we care to think about, how the moderates majority's opinions are not represented, and ultimately how people are alike all over despite cultural barriers and popular stereotypes. All we are asked to find out if Osama bin Laden really is the most dangerous man in the world? Is Osama really the problem or is he the symptom of a bigger problem? Do the people we think like him even really like him?
It is a very good balance of an entertaining, mass-appealing film that neither dumbs down its material nor treats its audience like idiots or the director like a genius. It is also a very humanistic film, showing how the many good people are all too often overshadowed by the few evil ones who just happen to have more power and influence. I hope that more Americans, particularly ones constantly fed gross stereotypes and lies by their government get to see this film.
The movie was quite good, but the reviews here demonstrate the limited power of even a thoughtful documentary approach, to really edify. Take a look at how many of the reviewers think they were enlightened by the movie to stop being ignorant Americans, but like some kind of shameful stereotype come to life, don't realize even after viewing the movie, that Pakistan is not part of the Middle East! A main theme of the movie is that people from diverse societies, have a very different perspective on American foreign policy than we Americans can even consider. Another very subtle theme is that we Americans should be a little ashamed at our ignorance. A point not easily taken, apparently.
What first comes to mind when you hear you're going to a movie titled
"Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?"? An odd title for a quality
film. I saw an advanced screening for market research purposes, and the
theater was full. In a similar way to Michael Moore (but far less
polarizing), Morgan Spurlock is able to make his point and maintain a
great sense of humor. He travels to all major regions of the Middle
East- including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan- on his quest
to find Osama. Along the way, we meet many middle-easterners: regular
citizens, terrorists' siblings, and islamist extremists. To see the
sentiment of these people up close and personal is quite amazing, and
Spurlock must be truly admired for his courage to venture into these
I have gotten this far but have failed to mention the humor in it. I will say this much: You will get at least 4-5 belly laughs, and countless chuckles along the way.
It is a great follow-up to "Super Size Me" and shows that he can tackle the more political/difficult issues, but still keep that signature Spurlock smile.
GO SEE IT!
This is one of the most interesting films in a long time. Morgan goes
to several Middle East countries, including Afghanistan, Egypt, Israel,
Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan to interview the average person
on the street mostly to get their views on Osama Bin Laden.
We get a glimpse of people in these countries to get their views on Osama including all ages, young and old. Some westerners may be surprised at the views of most people in these countries which is quite different than many people believe There is also a look at the topography and landmarks of some of the countries. If you want to see what people are like in these countries this film is hard to beat. This is a 10 star film.
Let's make something perfectly clear: Morgan Spurlock doesn't really
want to find Osama Bin Laden. I can only assume his real motivation for
making Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden? runs parallel with his
motive behind Super Size Me - to educate fat, stupid Americans.
Considering everyone around the world knows there's a lot of fat,
stupid Americans, you could say the target audience for this
documentary would be as big as the one that made SSM a must-see hit.
But, to Spurlock's detriment, there are things people are ready to hear
and there are things they aren't. Based on the critical and box office
woes of WITWIOBL, it would seem no one in the USA wants to hear the
truth about the so-called War on Terror.
Spurlock might be preaching to the choir of informed critics who know exactly why the US is globally detested, but right here in the good old US of A, he's asking the masses to swallow a very bitter pill. I say the pill is bitter because he spends the duration of his film humanizing Muslims, letting them speak for themselves in ways that radically contradict the conveniently palatable perception Americans have of their (ahem) enemy. The Muslims Spurlock interviews are not gun toting, blood thirsty, irrational, unreasonable or anti-American Jihadists, instead they are the exact opposite: peaceful, reasonable, rational, logical and kind. While there is no doubt a shared resentment towards the US Government, the resentment is justified.
Spurlock doesn't pull any punches in his quest, he tells the history of US foreign policy as it happened and this version doesn't hide the fact the US has been in bed with brutal dictators and regimes for a very long time. The fitting quote provided by FDR sums up the US attitude to their profitable alliances with murderous thugs: "He may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch." This understanding of US foreign policy begs the question: is it any surprise they hate the US Government? All actions have resultant repercussions and if you consider that US foreign policy has marginalized, oppressed and killed millions of people, then is it any surprise when the victims bite back?
There's one particular interview with one of Spurlock's subjects that basically makes us ask: if the US military can describe civilian casualties as "collateral damage," then what do you call the innocent Americans killed by a Jihadist's attack? It's all a matter of perspective and Spurlock posits the uncomfortable reality that war is war and their loss of innocent lives hurt and resonate just as much as ours do.WITWIOBL is by no means a deep or probing study of the issues in the Middle East; it glosses over the complex history of the region and, at times, does so in a very adolescent way. Spurlock, an obvious student of the Michael Moore school of documentary film-making, makes light of many topics by (over) using animated cartoons as a means to parlay a number of ideas. Spurlock uses a mock-video game template to structure WITWIOBL and, despite it being a new approach, it doesn't do the film any good. While on one hand I can appreciate Spurlock is trying to bring a little levity to a very serious subject, his gags are rarely funny and his overall schtick is wearisome. But if you stick with WITWIOBL you'll be rewarded with a film less about Spurlock's self-indulgences and more about having a better understanding of the Muslim world.
Spurlock concludes that, ultimately, Muslims and Americans want the same thing: to have a better world to bring up their children in. Fine for those who have kids or want them, but I don't. As a consolation, I'd be happy to settle with living in a world where people were introspective enough to realize it takes two to tango. WITWIOBL might open the eyes of a few, but in a country divided by two political parties, asking a filmmaker to bridge the divide between two foreign world's might be asking a bit much. Nevertheless, WITWIOBL is well intentioned even if it has nothing to do with it's title.
I just saw this film at the Melbourne Internatinal Film Festival. I,
along with everyone else in the audience (or at least, form what I
could tell from audience reaction) found it very entertaining. The film
begins with Spurlock deciding to seek out Osama bin Laden in order to
make the world safer for his unborn child. As you would expect from
this type of documentary, you have humorous animation sequences, songs
and interviews. This humour often derives from Spurlocks apparent aim
to find bin Laden, however this is not really what the doco is about.
More than anything, I found the aim of this doco to be to say 'everyday
Muslims are just like you and me' and in telling people that not all
Muslims are terrorists. This is most definitely a very good and
important message for the people of today. However, I don't feel that
this doco really covers any new ground. This message has been covered
by many people before in many different ways and will be again. No new
light is shed on the topic, or, for that matter, on any topic.
That said, if you were to go in to this film with a complete ignorance toward Muslim society then it may be a different story. If that were the case you would be supplied a highly entertaining lessen in tolerance. Unfortunately, in my experience people of that type of ignorance are not necessarily the type who would sit down and watch a documentary. I suppose the all we can hope is that the cheesiness of the title will draw them in! Overall I would rate it 6/10 for being entertaining, if not groundbreaking.
I got another copy of the Christofascist propaganda film Obsession in
the mail yesterday. It is appropriate that I sit down to watch this
film after the attempts to scare me.
Morgan Spurlock is a genius. He made a highly entertaining film that has a real message that needs to be seen and heard by everyone.
No matter where he went - Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Morocco - you name it, the people were dismissive of Osama bin Laden and felt that he was responsible for their lives being so bad. he was not a hero, but a villain to Muslims everywhere.
What was equally impressive was the fact that everyone hates our government. Not us, but out government. Guess what? We hate it too, but will we have the guts to change it? I don't mean just change parties, I mean change our government to one that doesn't sponsor dictators and terrorism throughout the world as long as it benefits us.
The bottom line in this film was that most people in the world are just like us. We want to earn some money, take care of our families, and live in peace. What a novel concept! Check this one out.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you are a serious news junkie with an affinity towards the Middle
East and you get your information from numerous sources chances are you
are not going to learn anything new in this film in terms of
geopolitics. However, what you will learn from this film is what you
won't get get from the general media, the Islamic world from the
perspective of its inhabitants.
In "Where In The World Is Osama Bin Laden" Morgan Spurlock is more concerned with educating an American public whose majority will never travel outside this country and therefore will never meet the very same people that are typically vilified on our news. That's what makes this film important simply because he adds a human face to Muslims in a way that most journalists can't because it simply doesn't bring in good ratings. In other words fear sells and how can we fear someone that looks like we could hang out with and have a good laugh? And that's the genius behind the film in that he injects humor throughout the film both in voice over commentary and in the interviews and many times his interviewees express the same brand of humor right back. What we are left with is a broader picture of a people who share a lot in common with us but have been belittled by the politics of their own governments and ours (a sentiment that we also share about our own state of affairs). If that's not enough to see the film then see it for the hilarious animated sequence of Osama Bin Ladin dancing to MC Hammer's "Can't Touch This".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Any spoilers should be vague and won't give much away.
This film for me is a must see, it's a film for a broad audience. I won't go into politics or the "This film effected me by s..." comments so don't worry!
The film shows an ordinary guy travelling on a search for Osama Bin Laden it really is that simple. The film shows through interviews mostly how the lives of normal working people in many country's unfold. We come to see people who you'd see on any street corner talking like they do anywhere else. The interviews like this seem to be very real, i got the feeling of a group of friends chatting more than an interview or interrogation, i for one really liked this, finally an investigative journalist with a personality!
The film does however make some interesting points for the more politically minded. I always thought i had a good idea of the political systems in the countries he visited, i was shocked to see some of the things i did.
All in all i'd say this film is thought provoking for all people, and definitely enjoyable!
One scene where Morgan finds himself getting surrounded by xenophobes is hilarious especially how Morgan reacts, he reacts the way any normal guy would.
Ten out of Ten for me, i learned something, i laughed, i frowned and i learned something. What more can you want?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Having watched "Supersize me", I decided to watch this movie thinking it'd be just another "documentary" telling us what anybody with half a brain would already know. Fortunately, I was wrong. The movie is full of small surprises, ranging from a highly divided Islamic world (in which even those who agreed with Osama's JIHAD, or with the war against a power they think is oppressing them, were amazingly polite and well mannered towards a "representative" of such oppression), to the incredibly hostile attitude of some orthodox Jews (supposedly our allies?). A great documentary, not about geography, or about data anybody can find on Wikipedia or the local library, but about people, what they think or feel, and why. If nothing else, the movie proves invaluable just by demonstrating that, not only Muslims are not all evil, bloodthirsty fanatics, but that even those that agree with Al Qaeda understand that Americans are not evil either, and are lucid enough to separate the American people from their government. That to me speaks about much better informed people than we give them credit for.
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