Monday, December 26, 2011

A Dreary Slog

I have not seen Angelina Jolie's directorial debut. As I mentioned the other week, the trailer was enough for me to dismiss it as derivative, and the strong opinions of those who have seen it have only fortified my determination not to actually pay Ms. Jolie for the privilege of being insulted.

For better or for worse, the Serbs don't have an ethnic lobby in the US - neither a political pressure group, nor an organization set up to be professionally offended. The only bit of public outcry so far has been on the social networks, as well as this review from the American Serb publisher William Dorich, deservedly taking the film to task for misrepresenting the Bosnian War.

The government in Serbia is so useless, it may well promote the movie to show its commitment to the Empire. Things are somewhat different in the Bosnian Serb Republic, where there have been calls for a boycott and even banning the movie. All things considered, though, a public campaign against Jolie - by the "evil Serbs" no less - could only give her publicity. What to do, then?

As with many problems, this one sort of solved itself. You see, in addition to wallowing in bigotry, the  movie is actually rather terrible. It appears I wasn't the only one less than impressed with Jolie's film-making skills. Last week, the Onion's AV Club dismissed "In the Land of Blood and Honey" as "fevered good intentions gone awry, a dreary slog of a message movie with little but noble if unfulfilled aspirations to commend it," giving it a D+.

Writes critic Nathan Rabin:
"Serbian groups have justifiably complained about Jolie’s glib stereotyping of Serbs as racist heavies. Kostic, for example, emerges as the film’s hero almost exclusively by virtue of being somewhat less terrible than his contemporaries. Subtlety and understatement become collateral damage as Jolie drives her points home as forcefully as possible and the film devolves into a grubby melodrama that fails to edify or entertain."
While Jolie has successfully attracted the attention of the Western public to international atrocities, Rabin continues, "It’s possible, if not particularly likely, that someday she will get around to dramatizing atrocities compellingly as well, though her colorless work here suggests she’s a lot more likely to do that as an actress than as a filmmaker."

There you have it, then. For a much better story about the horrors of war, go see "War Horse" instead.

7 comments:

Mabuballah said...

Go see "War Horse"? Aren't we there already?
Schtick!

balkaninfo said...

For a reality-based blockbuster movie on Bosnia there have to be nazis in it (search for "HVO and HOS in Herzegovina 1992" and "Albanians and Afghans fight for the heirs to Bosnia's SS past") and scenes from Nasir Oric's Greatest Hits and Izetbegovic's video tapes (also available at Islamic cultural centres in Bosnia). An adequate movie title would be "Saw C".

"One copy of the video tape where the ritual slayings are documented was sent as a gift to President Alija Izetbegovic. The detainees were being kept in a sheep pen and executed slowly. Left without food and water for days, they were exhausted, and some hallucinated. The mujahedeen distributed knives to them and requested that they kill one another. "If you won't kill him, I'll kill you," they said to the bewildered people who then stabbed one another. The mujahedeen chopped the heads off of the wounded people, using cleavers or chainsaws, and those who were still alive had to kiss the heads which were later nailed to trees. Some POWs were left hanging on ropes, while others were either nailed or bricks were tied to their sex organs and they were drowned slowly in wood barrels filled with water."
- Slobodna Bosna September 13, 2001

mrchess said...

Slightly off topic . You are probably aware that in 2005 the ICTY published the official casualty results of the bosnian war . At that time it was stated that 'the researchers estimate the number of killed civilian Muslims and Croats to be around 38,000, while the number of killed civilian Serbians was about 16,700.' Well , I was just looking at the Bosnia War wiki and they changed the numbers ! The new 2011 figures have only about 7,000 Serb civilians killed although the total number of people killed altogether doesn't differ much ( 104,700 compared to 102,000 ) .

Isn't this very strange that professional statisticians can be off by about 10,000 ( more than 50% ) ?! I have not read the document fully yet to comprehend this huge discrepancy .

Gray Falcon said...

Oh, I remember the ICTY numbers all too well. But that was the 2003 study that finally emerged in 2004. The 2005 numbers were just short of 100,000, the result of Mirsad Tokaca's research.

I saw Tokaca's conclusions, though, and they don't correspond to the discrepancy you mention. Given that anyone at all can edit Wikipedia, could it be that the Wiki info is deliberately misleading, doctored by the professional victim lobby?

mrchess said...

Well , the wiki links to an official pdf from the ICTY site . I downloaded myself just to make sure .

The previous report I am talking about was made by Ewa Tabeau and Bijak and showed 102,000 dead total ( and 16,700 serbs ) .

Now the report is written by Ewa Tabeau and some other guy and shows 104,760 total ( and 7500 Serb civilians killed ) . In the report it mentions that are using some different techniques to arrive at these conclusions but I am no statistician . Seems to me they decided 16,700 was not politically correct .

Gray Falcon said...

Thanks for the clarification. They do seem to have taken a leave from their senses, all right. Or could it be they've decided that facts don't matter, since they can just make them up? I mean, it's worked for them (according to their own belief, anyway) so far...

Arius said...

Angelina Jolie must be sitting at the feet of agitprop expect Roy Gutman.