Saturday, January 15, 2011


This is part III of the Documentary-palooza.  You can check out parts I on Joan Rivers and II  on Exit through the Gift Shop here and here.

Restrepo - A documentary created by a journalist and photographer based on the year they were embedded with the 2nd Platoon, B Company in Afghanistan.  It starts just as the group they focus on is about to ship out and you see the movie's namesake, PFC Juan S. Restrepo, as part of the platoon.  You also see how his death in Afghanistan affects the rest of his platoon, to the point they name their outpost Restrepo.  The rest of the film looks at building the outpost, interacting with local people (the Afghan with the pink beard is a bit of unintended levity), and of course the firefights with the Taliban.  The movie juxtaposes real-time footage with quick interviews and commentary on the action with the soldiers after the fact.  All the interviews and much of the footage is shown with almost overwhelming close-up.  They do a good job making you feel like you're part of what's going on and that it's the words, not the person exactly that matter the most.  The fact that the voiceover from the interviews explains what you're seeing in-country helps with that feeling.   The hand-held camera work can be off-putting, but it's a documentary in a serious war zone, so what can you expect.  Interplaying the interviews does give you respite from the shaky cam, and provides a balance for the viewer.  The movie does a good job staying very neutral about everything except that war sucks and having your friends die in war sucks a lot and you'll never forget what happens.  3 of 5 stars/lambs

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