(us) wrote: There's nothing earth shattering about "Cleaner" but it does include a star-studded cast, all of whom deliver solid performances within a story that is partially original. This movie is a good watch but could have been better.
(kr) wrote: March, 2003. In Baghdad, life goes on. In Qatar, Jehane Noujaim is persuading the management and staff of Al Jazeer - the most popular Arab television news network - to let her watch them cover the coming invasion of Iraq.This is fly-on-the-wall stuff. Noujaim gets journalists - and soldiers - to talk. We see the struggle between morality and management - how do you tell the truth? Truth is rarely black and white - it usually involves some perspective ... and it fast becomes clear that the Communications Center set up by the Americans is there to provide one perspective and one perspective only. As one journalist explains, "you cannot wage war without rumours, without propaganda".Bush appears, assuring the Iraqi people that the war is not directed against them ... but warning, "it will be no defence to say, 'I was just following orders'." Al Jazeera management, meanwhile, is talking about the need for democracy, the need to respect the other's opinion, to have free debate. The role of Al Jazeera is to shake up rigid societies - the channel has been banned by a number of autocratic Arab regimes, yet remains popular. Even desert tents can support a satellite dish.But already, working gear for reporters is a flak jacket and helmet. The war is a media event, with CentCom - it rhymes with sitcom - orchestrating matters for the world's journalists ... the ones not 'embedded' with the military, or the ones who have ignored warnings and chosen to stay in Baghdad to witness events first-hand.The military, and the White House, are not comfortable with Al Jazeera. It appears to lack compliance, to be asking the wrong questions, to be broadcasting the wrong pictures. It is portrayed as anti-American, as pro-Sadaam.Al Jazeera, meanwhile, is insisting that the war is not merely an agenda of political aims and military objectives. Iraqis are bleeding and dying. Someone has to care about the people. Someone has to show what is happening to the civilians.The film makes you wonder about the cynicism of journalism. Even the American soldiers are driven to remark that the Fox network is distorting the news to sell it to American 'patriots'. The death of civilians is sickening, no matter who has filmed it. And attempts to manage the news are breaking down - no one, it seems, is prepared to deal the assembled journalists a card or two from the famous pack! In Baghdad, journalists are being killed by American air strikes. The US attitude is that they shouldn't have been there in the first place.As the American advance continues - and we get some footage of less than civil behaviour by British troops as well - the sense of Arab humiliation comes across. The Al Jazeera journalists, who are hardly supporters of Sadaam, feel ashamed by the paucity of resistance. Yes, America can do what it likes to any other country, but the Iraqi army and the resistance seems to have fled with hardly a fight.This is a vital piece of reporting. The emergence, in the last couple of years, of the DVD as a proper format for investigative journalism is to be welcomed - but we need faster release, faster access. Jehane Noujaim provides an essential corrective to the wholly Western perspective which Western viewers consumed. The manipulation of news goes beyond trying to inform the world without betraying military secrets; the manipulation of news is a political act, not restricted to coverage of war.Noujaim demonstrates that there is a major difference between bias and choice of focus. A free press is essential in any democracy. The invasion of Iraq demonstrated how callously ... and how quickly ... a democracy will set about manipulating information and silencing anyone whose perspective or focus does not immediately accord with the political objectives of its elected leaders. A riveting, instructive DVD which should be essential viewing for anyone interested in journalism, filmmaking, the Middle East, ... or democracy.
(ru) wrote: The police commissioner sets up a new program in order to train citizens to act as law enforcement in their neighbourhoods. Of course the recruits are a motley crew of idiots and stereotypes. David Spade, Bubba Smith, Michael Winslow, Bob Goldthwait, and Sharon Stone star. As a child, this was my favourite of all the Police Academy films especially because of the pretty cool stunts.