Good Night, and Good Luck Dodging the Sniper Fire

Marcel Ophüls on the heroic idealists and cynical mollycoddles of wartime journalism

Marcel Ophüls is smiling. Did Slobodan Milosevic just say something funny?
Milestone Films
Marcel Ophüls is smiling. Did Slobodan Milosevic just say something funny?

Ophüls does seem to be losing some of his old acuity. He attacks a woman for depicting Serbian women heroically, saying, "I am a Jew, and I like Jews to be resistance fighters," as if their two biases were an equivalent his-and-hers set. This declaration sends us into a sequence in which Ophüls and a journalist look at footage from the Palestinian Intifada, with the reporter claiming that Israeli soldiers are "remarkably well-behaved." (Uh...compared to whom?) There's also an uncomfortable moment when Ophüls blithely tells a female reporter, "Some would say you don't lack balls because you don't have any." This is meant to be a feminist statement, but Ophüls's subject blinks in bafflement (or disgruntlement) regardless. The Troubles swerves and totters, but it gets at an exciting gray area, the place where the need to pay the bills and the urgency to tell the whole story collide. Just make sure you enter the theater right after intermission.

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