Perceptive Talking Heads Can't Redeem a Sloppy Cinematic Blog
Anybody who tries to deconstruct the new American empire erected by the Bush regime's schnooks and crooks winds up babbling to himself and others, "You can't make this shit up." But then you have to get your hands dirty and mold it into something that's interesting to look at. That's something Michael Moore did in Fahrenheit 9/11, but which Robert Greenwald doesn't do in Uncovered: The War on Iraq. Moore created a movie; Greenwald gives us a cinematized blog.
His vast made-for-TV experience (The Burning Bed, with Farrah Fawcett) didn't serve Greenwald well when he put his strong social conscience to work on this documentary. Yes, he was pressed for time, because he's been scrambling to get this thing done and out, according to published reports. But he must have misplaced the formula: The result is that he shot interviews with a horde of credible counterterrorism experts and basically posted the results.
Greenwald hunted the elephant with a crudely fashioned atomic pea-shooteryou can fire a hell of a lot of spitwads with one of those, but they're not necessarily going to penetrate. Moore, on the other hand, used an elephant gun. And while the creature was still breathing, Moore cut through its hide like a doctor on CSI: Bush, pulled out some ugly material, and closely examined it. Fahrenheit 9/11 was an autopsy on a living thing. No wonder the elephant yelped.
There are some fascinating nuggets to be fished out of the flash flood of quotes in Uncovered. The most intriguing spills out at the end, when former CIA analyst Ray McGovern says, "When the emperor has no clothes, you have to have the presence of mind and the courage to stand up and say, 'The emperor has no clothes.' " OK, there's some sort of narrative thread there. Back to the cutting room, Bob.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.