Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Military intelligence

Jon Ronson does a great line in exposing some of the more bizarre aspects of modern fixtures such as extremists, conspiracy theorists, governments and the military. I've read a couple of his books over the years, and have always enjoyed his documentaries. Unlike many seemingly similar journalists, he appears to establish genuine connections with people at the fringes of society, and always brings something human out of them, even if they are still certifiably insane or dangerous.

One of his more interesting projects looked at the US military's investigation of the paranormal and New Age "techniques". I was familiar with some of the material he uncovered before reading the book, but I was still astonished at the variety of the craziness studied by the military, how seriously this sort of stuff was taken, and for how long. It certainly reminded me of the old joke about military intelligence. Anyway, his work was turned into a fictionalised film version which we caught today. Any good?

Not really is the simple answer. Which is a shame since both Jeff Bridges and George Clooney try their best to breathe life into a lame script that splices snippets of Ronson's investigations into a pretty stupid journey through a militarised Iraq. What's particularly annoying is that though the film points out that it's partially factual from the start, it's not obvious which parts are based on real events, and which parts are completely made-up or heavily embellished. To the extent that part of me wonders if the US military bankrolled the film - what better way to discredit Ronson's facts than mix them up with fiction?

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