Errol Morris Releases Abu Ghraib Film Amidst Iron Man Opening

Wow. So it’s finally happened. I’ve become “one of them.” I have become a film critic-or at least a reasonable fact simile. Here’s the deal; I’ve always loved movies and at about 15 years of age I started reading movie reviews in the Chicago Reader. And over the years I finally got into the habit of cutting out movie reviews and going to the see the movie THEN to read the reviews. Because I learned that I didn’t want a review in my head as I watched the movie, but I DID want to maybe read some history about the directory or how the movie came together, and yeah, even what the reviewers thought. Of course Chicago is quite famous for nor only our love of movies but our reviewers too; Gene and Roger anybody? One of the “tricks” I noticed that reviewers used is to dual review some big budget movie and then contrast it with some independent art house movie in the same story . And so, ladies and gentlemen, I have arrived.

This week Iron Man opens. It LOOKS like the best comic book movie ever made . And I really want to go see it-but my car is loaned out to my mom . So I’m kinda screwed and have to wait.

Iron Man is basically about Tony Stark. Tony, like his dad, is supposed to be a weapons designer, who sees the light and realized that misused military might cost him so much that he has to change his ways. (See, this is my pro movie reviewer segue). But another, smaller, film is also opening this week; Errol Morris’s Standard Operating Procedure. I think most civilians take the expression for granted, but for those of us who were in the military it’s one of the MILLIONS of acronyms we use all the time (we normally just say SOP’s). But lingo like that can bleed into mainstream society if enough people start using it. Hell, now that computer stuff is becoming second nature to most people I hear TOS all the time now (Terms of Service). But the new Errol Morris movie is a film I can give a stamp of approval on without even seeing . Here’s the subject matter; Lynndie England in "before" and "after" pictures.

Errol Morris is one of those directors that has truly taken film in a new direction. Strangely, he’s done so by being more simple than everybody else. He seems to have queried "what would happen if I asked people questions and let them answer?" I’ve got about a half a dozen interviews cut out where people tried to capture the Morris style of filmmaking. And a lot of his style comes from his interest in people and topics that YOU didn’t know you were interested in until he made a movie about them. He also invented a device which I THINK projects a mirror image of the subject back to themselves when they look across at Errol. So instead of seeing his face they see their own face. I believe I’ve seen all of his movies. His last 2 were without parallel. He usually focuses a film on either one person or one subject so it tends to be very in depth. And his last films were essentially long interviews with the Donald Rumsfeld of the Vietnam war, Robert S. McNamara, and before that he made a film about a man who designs and maintains electric execution chairs. I’m telling you; his movies are not like anybody else’s.

So what’s happening in this new movie? Morris goes and talks to the people who participated in the Abu Gharaib incident. That’s really all you need. I mean, either this is your cup of tea or it isn’t. But he talks to Lynndie England and he talks to Sabrina Harmon, pictured below in the good old days. And I’m pretty sure SHE’S the one that took all those famous pictures. And these 2 haven’t talked to anybody.

Want some trivia? Well I heard about the movie a few weeks ago listening to KCRW, which is one of the 2 LA based radio stations I listen to when I’m there (and now over the internet). And then on Friday I was listening to Killing Time with Bronwyn C. She does an hour long show on WFMU right after Billy Jam’s show (which I listen to religiously). Bronwyn is a straightforward, pragmatic radio woman. It’s hard to describe her air personality in print, but she reminds me of my friend Fontaine who has been doing college radio 25 years in Richmond Virginia-mostly at WDCE. Her show is also on Fridays. I like a lot of these women DJ’s music and chat topics, some play more music than others, but mostly they’re just interesting people who tend to play music I like. Like another “friend” I have is an ex KUSF/WMFU DJ named Janteen B. But we’re only Myspace friends. Wow. I really listen to a lot of radio don’t I? And I’ve really gotten off topic haven’t I? Ok, one last connection; so Bronwyn mentioned the movie and the fact that Kenneth Keith Kallenbach died recently. He’s famous from being on the Howard Stern radio show-and I started listening to Howard when I first moved to NYC in 1988 because his show reminded me of Steve Dahl’s radio show in Chicago!!!!! So much radio in my life!

2 thoughts on “Errol Morris Releases Abu Ghraib Film Amidst Iron Man Opening

  1. I went straight to the Apple trailer page to check out the trailer for Morris’ documentary and I will also have to add, I want to check that out. I’ve heard Errol Morris’ name somewhere I just can’t place my finger where. But after seeing the trailer and your blog, I think I’m going to IMDB his resume and backtrack his previous films. Interesting stuff.

    To close, I also used to listen to Howard. It was actually the only radio I used to listen to. Period. I don’t know if ‘edgy’ is the right term, but I sure as hell never heard anyone speak out on the topics as he did and that’s what made him worth waking up early in the morning for. I remember I used to get up early to help my uncle do messenger work. So, I’d be in his car all morning listening to Howard and being ‘enlightened’ and cracking up at the same time. How I miss that show.

  2. Yeah Morris films just have no comparison. I hope you’re able to get access.

    And as for Howard, his shows are available in the format we spoke about. Every single show for several years running now.

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