Saturday, June 06, 2009

Burma VJ (movie review)

Tonight's Event
This is a political art film more than a strict documentary and unlike Hearts and Minds, has a rather cluttered editorial track hitting on many levels, somewhat Nordic in flavor.

The film is mostly by and about journalists in awe of their own technology, and maybe too confidant that getting footage to CNN or BBC is an end in itself.

The foreign journalists have a lot of empathy, but mostly say vacuous things, sounding a lot like George Bush, who also has a speaking role in this film.

Getting better technology into the hands of the monks & nuns, rather than having them be filmed by the students, would probably make more sense.

They need the Internet, or at least multiple intranets, and ongoing freedom to pursue a scholarly life of the mind. From such study, good governance might arise, and better films, like The Cup.

Right now, you have a company town profiteering for northern neighbors, lots of thugs on payroll with families to feed, with so-called citizens an inconvenient overhead expense suffering from malign neglect, a grin and bear it, long drawn out, post Katrina scenario.

But that's a lot of the world for ya.

The company rules with stylized intimidation, sometimes brutal and lethal, its chief counter to nonviolent street theater ("the whole world is watching").

This is definitely an ugly situation ripe for overhaul, but are student journalists really the only natural born leaders? And so what if there's a pipeline in the picture.

I hate it how everyone nods knowingly at cocktail parties as soon as anyone says "pipeline", as if we were all oil tycoons on the Queen something or other, crossing the Atlantic over a hundred years ago and meaning to sound rich and worldly. Blech.

There's dear Aung San Suu Kyi of course, but superhero cults, like superpower politics, express an anemia, a deep deficiency, resulting in melodrama minus much in the way of true satisfaction.

She much deserves an expenses paid vacation, her own talk show if she wants one, time to share and be with whatever people she chooses.

I should mention the pipeline came up later in discussion, as this was one of those special occasions in Fox Tower when we got some Q&A after (I was glad to get in the six miles walking to and from).

The film itself is more like eXistenZ or Half Life 2 in constructing a surreal and oppressive reality, a fevered dream, a nightmare.

Monks need their own TV studios, and more festivals.

My two cents.

Hey, I should mention I was in Rangoon a long time ago, came in on some DC-3 in a rainstorm, really bumpy, plus I was emailing about Chang Mai today (where some scenes in this film were reenacted) in connection with PSF business, so small world.