BY DAVID EDELSTEIN Brian de Palma is one of cinema’s most hypnotic stylists, a virtuoso who can expand your perception of space, time and motion onscreen. So when he throws away his jazzy technique and goes for rough-hewn and immediate — as in Redacted — it’s a major statement. Redacted — De Palma‘s fictionalized restaging of the rape and murder of an Iraqi girl and the killing of her family by American soldiers — is in form a kind of furious charcoal sketch: an assemblage of fake documentary footage, much of it from soldiers’ camcorders, with inserts of a French documentary (also fake) about the lives of Americans at a security checkpoint in Samarra.
Critics have called the movie crude and punishing. True enough. But it also does a harrowing job of depicting the psychological toll of the occupation on both Iraqis and U.S. soldiers. And despite the presence of two American sociopaths, this is not an unsympathetic portrait; in fact its best scene makes the audience understand the corrosiveness of living all the time with looming threat.
ALSO, Presidential historian Robert Dallek has written about LBJ, JFK, FDR and Ronald Reagan.In his recent book Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power, now out in paperback, he tackles two political titans who were in some ways very different — but also much alike. Among other things, both were “self-serving characters with grandiose dreams of recasting world affairs,” in Dallek’s assessment.
Terry Gross talks to Dallek about how the president and his chief diplomat (“a brilliant scoundrel”) used and abused their power — and about how they simultaneously needed and distrusted each other.
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