Friday, May 21, 2004

Two new films do some News Watching

Check out this NYT article, The War's Dark Side: Filling in the Blanks, then try to catch the films themselves . . .

One of the film's most illuminating statements is his: "When I watch Al Jazeera, I can tell what they're showing and then I can tell what they're not showing by choice. Same thing when I watch Fox on the other end of the spectrum." O.K., but how are we supposed to know what's missing? Filling in the blanks is exactly what most TV viewers cannot easily do.

"Control Room" offers enough glimpses of what we don't know to induce paranoia in even the best-informed viewers. The film captures immense hostility toward American actions in Iraq, anger that existed a year ago but is just now truly registering here. And Lieutenant Rushing says that "no American connects the Palestinian issue" with the war in Iraq, but that everyone he has met in the Arab world sees them as "the exact same thing" — an eye-opening observation for most people.

Also of note:

American news now routinely offers sound bites from Arab television to show how we are being perceived — but that is usually the nationalistic subtext, how they see us. These occasional, partial views don't enhance our understanding much.

Where to watch the discussed films:

"CONTROL ROOM" opens today at Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, South Village, and nationally through June and July. Film Forum information: (212) 727-8110.

(for our NYC readers)

"WAR FEELS LIKE WAR," to be shown on July 6 as part of the "P.O.V." series on PBS (check local listings).

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