Lawrence, KS - Events Local News Groups Contact
It's no longer possible to rely 100% on ads to keep our organization going. If you believe in why Films For Action exists, we hope you'll become a supporter on Patreon. A monthly donation of $1, $3, $5 or more per month will really help!
Is War, Inc. over-the-top, or not over-the-top enough?
By Indy Media / filmsforaction.org
May 21, 2008
By Jeremy Scahill. From GNN.tv:


Back in 1989, in his smash hit “Say Anything,” John Cusack famously stood with a boom box above his head outside the home of the woman he loved blasting Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.” With his latest films on the Iraq war, Cusack is standing outside Hollywood with a TV above his head broadcasting his political movies calling on the public to wake up and “Do Something.”

John Cusack began working on his new film “War, Inc.,” which premieres in LA and New York May 23, about a year into the U.S. occupation of Iraq. From the moment U.S. tanks rolled into Baghdad, Cusack was a voracious consumer of news about the war. He took it deadly seriously, regularly calling independent journalists and asking them questions as he sought as much independent information as he could. Watching the insanity of the erection of the Green Zone and the advent of the era of McWar, complete with tens of thousands of “private contractors,” Cusack set out to use the medium of film to unveil the madness. He wanted to do on the big screen what independent reporters like Naomi Klein, Nir Rosen and Dahr Jamail did in print. Over these years of war and occupation, Cusack has become one of the most insightful commentators on a far too seldom discussed aspect of the occupation: the corporate dominance of the U.S. war machine.

War Inc. trailer



Cusack is no parachute humanitarian. While he continues to do the Hollywood thing with big budget movies, he is simultaneously a fierce un-embedded actor/filmmaker who has been at the center of two of the best films to date dealing with the madness of the Iraq war. Without big money sponsors and the backing of powerful production companies, Cusack has spent a lot of his own money on these projects.

Cusack’s film “Grace is Gone,” was one of the most under-rated and under-viewed movies of 2007. Cusack should have been seriously considered for an Oscar for his portrayal of Stanley Philipps, a man whose wife dies while deployed as a soldier in Iraq. The film centers on Philipps’s painful inability to explain to his two young daughters (powerfully played by two amateur actors, Shélan O’Keefe and Gracie Bednarczyk) their mother’s death. Instead of telling his daughters the terrible news, he embarks on a surreal road trip to a theme park with the girls as he fights for his own sanity and grapples with his own support for the war that has just taken the life of his wife. The film is a jolting picture of a man caught in the free fall of a nervous breakdown and the ricochet impact of the death of soldiers in the war. It was an outright shame that “Grace is Gone” did not get wide distribution. I was at a screening of the film in New York and there were not many dry eyes at the movie’s conclusion.

Perhaps the film’s lack of commercial success was due to the so-called “Iraq movie fatigue” that took hold in Hollywood a couple of years ago. But “Grace is Gone” is not simply an “Iraq movie” or a “war movie.” It isn’t even really an “anti-war” movie. It is a haunting and moving film that cuts across political lines to tell the story of the suffering and shattering of so many U.S. military families with loved ones deployed in Iraq. Had it received the distribution it deserved, “Grace is Gone” would have resonated strongly with both supporters and opponents of the war, a rare accomplishment.

“War, Inc.” is a radically different kind of movie. In fact, it really defies genre. It is sort of like this generation’s Dr. Strangelove, A Clockwork Orange and The Wizard of Oz mixed together with the un-embedded reporting of Naomi Klein, spiced up with a dash of South Park. It is a powerful, visionary response to the cheerleading culture of the corporate media and a pliant Hollywood afraid of its own shadow.

On the surface, “War, Inc.” appears to be a spoof of the corporatization of the occupation of Iraq. Cusack plays a hit man, Brand Hauser, deployed to Turaqistan with the mission of killing a Middle Eastern oil baron (named Omar Sharif). Hauser’s employer is a secretive for-profit military corporation run by the former U.S. vice president, played by Dan Aykroyd. We first meet Aykroyd’s character as he sits, pants down, on a toilet seat during a closed-circuit satellite video-conference call to give Hauser his mission. Hauser arrives in the Turaqi capital and heads for the “Emerald City” (read: the Green Zone), where his cover is director of a trade show for the military corporation, Tamerlane, which is basically running the Turaqi occupation. Hauser soon falls for a progressive journalist, played by Marisa Tomei, who is in Turaqistan to investigate Tamerlane, and what follows is an insane ride through Cusack’s interpretation of the radical corporatization of war.

Singer Hilary Duff gives a surprisingly fun performance as a pop star, Yonica Babyyeah, who performs a song in the war zone with the lyrics, “You say you want to invade me, baby/Enslave me, baby.” As Duff delivers the song, she caresses a phallic gas nozzle decorated with diamonds while singing, “I want to blow you….up.” Obviously Cusack and his co-writers, Mark Leyner and Jeremy Pikser (_Reds_,Bulworth), sought to tap into the extreme nature of the corporatized war and take it to another level, but anyone who thinks the premise behind “War Inc.” is “over-the-top” has not been paying attention to real life.

Cusack, Leyner and Pikser are not predicting the future, they are forcefully–and with dark humor and wit– branding the present for what it is: the Wal-Mart-ization of life (and death) represented in the new U.S. model for waging war. With 630 corporations like Blackwater and Halliburton on the U.S. government payroll in Iraq getting 40% of the more than $2 billion Washington spends every week on the occupation, Cusack’s “futuristic” film is not far from the way things really are. A powerful, for-profit war corporation, run by the former U.S. vice president “owning” the war zone; tanks with NASCAR-like sponsor logos speeding around the streets firing at will; “implanted journalists” watching the war in IMAX theaters in the heavily-fortified “Emerald City” to get “full spectrum sensory reality” while eating popcorn; a secretive “viceroy” running the show from behind a digital curtain are all part of Cusack’s battlefield in the fictitious Turaqistan. But how far are they from the realities of the radically privatized corporate war machine Washington has unleashed on the world?

“War, Inc.” is already an underground cult classic and will likely remain so for years to come. The film is not without its shortcomings–at times it is confusing and drags–but its faults are significantly overshadowed by its many strengths. It also accomplishes the difficult feat of being very entertaining and funny, while delivering a powerful punch of truth. “War, Inc.” is a movie that deserves a much wider viewing than the barons of the film industry are likely to give it. But by filling the theaters in the opening days, people can send a powerful message that there is–and must be–a market for films of conscience.

Visit the official web site of “War, Inc.” or John Cusack’s web site to view trailers, get info on tickets for the premieres and to read more about the film.

Jeremy Scahill’s New York Times best seller, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army&, is now available in substantially updated paperback form.
0.0 ·
0
Featured Films
The Staging Post: Courageous People Never Give Up! (2017)
61 min The Staging Post follows two Afghan Hazara refugees, Muzafar and Khadim. Stuck in Indonesia after Australia 'stopped the boats' and facing many years in limbo, they built a community and started the school which inspired a refugee education revolution. A real-life...
Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective (2015)
92 min Humanity is more than ever threatened by its own actions; we hear a lot about the need to minimize footprints and to reduce our impact. But what if our footprints were beneficial? What if we could meet human needs while increasing the health and well-being of our...
Within Reach (2013)
87 min Within Reach explores one couple's pedal-powered search for a place to call home. Mandy and Ryan gave up their jobs, cars, and traditional houses to 'bike-pack' 6500 miles around the USA seeking sustainable community. Rather than looking in a traditional neighborhood, they...
Schooling the World (2010)
66 min If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th century when it forced Native American children into government boarding schools. Today, volunteers...
Fall and Winter (2013)
102 min This stunning film takes you on a hypnotic journey, reaching to the past to understand the origins of the catastrophic environmental transitions we now face. Over two years, director Matt Anderson traveled 16,000 miles to document firsthand our modern industrial world and the...
The Economics of Happiness (2011)
65 min Economic globalization has led to a massive expansion in the scale and power of big business and banking. It has also worsened nearly every problem we face: fundamentalism and ethnic conflict; climate chaos and species extinction; financial instability and unemployment. There...
Trending Today


Love Films For Action? Become a Patron!

Our Patreon campaign is now live! We hope you'll be among the first to support this new direction for Films For Action. The goal is to go 100% ad-free by next year, and become 100% member supported. A monthly pledge of just $1 -5 dollars per month x a few thousand awesome people will ensure we can continue our work and grow our impact across the world. Click here to join.

Join us on Facebook
Is War, Inc. over-the-top, or not over-the-top enough?