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'Land of the Blind'

Wrongheaded and bizarrely outrageous, the first feature from Robert Edwards chronicles the madcap historical throes of a fictionalized ur-nation (an amalgamation of Chile, Argentina, Iran, and the U.S., plus whatever) as it endures a Caligula-like scion in a line of military despots (Tom Hollander), suffers a quasi-socialist revolution at the hands of a Marx-haired playwright- messiah (Donald Sutherland), and then descends into Stalinist/Taliban fascism. The literate blitz of allusions and thefts does not obviate plenty of bathroom humor and shtick; in fact, the movie relentlessly veers toward the preposterous every time you think it might cohere into a political position. In this world, everybody's either an evildoing behemoth or a dolt. Who exactly is the one-eyed man in this Mad magazine version of dialectical materialism isn't clear; it surely isn't Ralph Fiennes, as the passive hero who graduates from being a good soldier to being Winston Smith in a re-education torture chamber. It's an easy movie to loathe, but it's designed imaginatively and enjoys the committed attention of its cast.


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