Al-Qaeda terrorists did not follow the 9/11 attacks with another massacre on American soil. They followed it, in early 2002, with the kidnapping and murder of an American Jew, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, in Karachi, Pakistan.
A Mighty Heart, a Michael Winterbottom film, chronicles the efforts of Pearl’s wife Mariane (Angelina Jolie), et al. to retrieve “Danny”; the picture is based on her book. Played by Dan Futterman, Pearl goes off to meet a putative source for an article he is writing on the shoe-bomber Richard Reid (remember him?), only to be victimized by jihadists. Mariane, pregnant and deeply worried, soon discovers he has been kidnapped, and investigations and Karachi arrests proceed apace. Frequently there are evasions, ignorance, baitings—and finally a dropped-off videotape. As everyone knows, Danny is never retrieved. Mariane naturally refuses to watch the tape which shows him being beheaded; preceding this, she screams with grief.
This fast-moving film is, I think, docudrama at its best. It’s less political, really, than United 93, which is not to say it isn’t political at all. It vaguely points a finger at the Wall Street Journal for sharing security-related info with the CIA and thus further jeopardizing the captured Pearl. This may be unfair; I don’t know. But also made clear, through the statement of a detained jihadist, is that the kidnappers seized Pearl simply because he was an American. Actually, of course, he was seized because he was an American Jew. That’s something the terrorists couldn’t abide. Certainly Winterbottom does not ignore anti-Jewish feeling among fanatical Muslims. I admire his presenting the scene where an interviewed cleric tells Danny that the absence of thousands of Jewish employees at the World Trade Center on 9/11 proves that the people of this particular ethnic group were culpable for the atrocity.
Time to be frank. If A Mighty Heart has a message—I’m going to say it does—it is this: reality, though often pleasant, is a nightmare. Believe me, where al-Qaeda is concerned, it is a nightmare. Mariane relates that after the terrorists decapitated Pearl, they cut his body into several pieces before disposing of it. All Mrs. Pearl can do now is go on living and raising her child. End of story.
A well-told story, thanks to Winterbottom.
I stopped reading John Fowles’s absorbing novel, The Collector, once it seemed to be getting philosophically dark; my own philosophy of life is not dark.
The book’s plot concerns an English art student, female, who is held prisoner by an unstable English bank clerk who claims to love her. Released in 1965 was a William Wyler film version—an intelligent quasi-Hitchcock version starring Terence Stamp as the bank clerk (and collector of dead butterflies) and Samantha Eggar as the student.
As usual, Wyler knew how to direct the film—notwithstanding there is too much of Maurice Jarre‘s music on the soundtrack—and the Stanley Mann-John Kohn screenplay, though dark, is without philosophical despair. It never reaches a philosophical plateau; but, yes, it is dark. As John Simon informed us, evil here prospers in the end. Certain people in society have an appetite for violation. Those on whom the appetite is turned may not survive.
Stamp and Eggar are just about the only actors in The Collector, and what a job they do! Eggar, incidentally, later commented that Stamp had a “nasty attitude” toward her. If this is true, I’m sorry Stamp didn’t believe in gallantry. Up to a point, the disturbed guy he’s playing does.
There is stale armed rebellion stuff (the rebellion is justified) in the recent Star Wars pic, Rogue One (2016), but the film is typically pleasantly energetic and photographically flawless, with smart lighting, etc.
To my mind, its jabba-the-hutt creepies do not make Rogue One rich enough. Felicity Jones, however, provides femininity and okay acting as Jyn Erso, a survivor-warrior; and there’s an enjoyable robot, or droid.
Directed by Gareth Edwards.