A long weekend and 'War, Inc.'

posted: 22 July, 2008
As the final minutes of yesterday's Glasgow-only bank holiday ticked away, I realised that this is the last long weekend I'll have in Glasgow. This is significant only because I've had quite a few of them, and through every one I am plagued with the feeling I've wasted it. This time, like most of the others, I whiled away the time by recording, reading, watching some films, cooking, and cycling a bit. I can't think of what I could have done to be more productive, yet without an actual 'product' at the end of the three days it feels disappointing.

I watched a few films this weekend, including War, Inc. Though I didn't realise this til I saw the credits, the script was co-written by Mark Leyner of Tooth Imprints on a Corn Dog fame. I loved Leyner when i was in high school. His absurd, hilarious mish-mash of pop culture and gonzo narratives spoke directly to my soul. It's not that I've moved on to more "highbrow" fiction; I just kinda forgot about him, due to his reduced literary output.

War, Inc. is enjoyable, despite the critical lashing it received. It's a Philip K Dick-inspired futuristic satire on the Iraq War that updates Gross Pointe Blank with a pisstake attitude and narrative excess that approaches (though comes nowhere near) Southland Tales territory. It's got John Cusack stumbling through it, totally upstaged by Joan Cusack's minor role; it's Syriana meets James Bond divided by heavy layers of irony.

The biting commentary on Halliburtonesque war profiteering isn't subtle, nor is it particularly convincing. Because of the over-the-top nature of the film the politics just become a sideshow to the main focus, which is actually a pretty conventional adventure film. When it ended I felt disappointed, thinking about what this could have been - an indictment of the Bush administration and the 'militarisation of pop culture' while still being absurd and funny. But I dug it anyway; the action/fight sequences were surprisingly good. Three Kings it is not, but it made an otherwise slow Sunday afternoon quickly pass.
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