THE WAR TAPES (Deborah Scranton) Rating:NNN Rating: NNN
In 2003, Deborah Scranton convinced several members of the New Hampshire National Guard to pack video cameras with them when they were called up to service in Iraq. Among them were an English lit graduate who made a pilgrimage to New York's Ground Zero before shipping out and Zack Bazzi, a Lebanese-born Muslim American. They carry their cameras everywhere, capturing both everyday boredom guarding supply trucks full of cheese and the view from a Humvee in battle.
It's a fascinating watch for anyone interested in how soldiers think, bond and kill, but it could have gone so much further. Instead of taking the grunt's-eye vantage point as an opportunity to open questions of point of view, Scranton uses the soldiers' footage to weave a potent but conventional narrative.
It begins in idealism, moves through alternating horror and cynicism and ends in painful disillusionment, tracing the same emotional arc as Hollywood's war fictions. The most thoughtful of her shooters, Bazzi, notes that good soldiers "will always love their country and be suspicious of their government."
There must be a similar dictum for audiences. (August 25-30, Bloor Cinema)