and sometimes poetry

Fair Game (2010) | Review by Hannah Brooks-Motl

We are owed a documentary. We are tired of being told we are going to see a “documentary” only to find ourselves staring at James Franco’s face for two hours as he comes to terms with an entire generation’s worth of cultural malaise and thanatophobia; we are fed up with the old switcheroo of “Fair Game” for “Inside Job”—which is what happened to us tonight. As the comfortable montage of “exotic” “espionage” “sequences” began, all washed-out and yet still somehow dangerous with color; and then we shot over to the equally cozy labyrinth of Langley, Virginia; and as the date got typed into the lower right corner of the frame, as though the very screen we were watching was some top-secret government document; while Naomi Watts strode into view in an elegant pants-suit; and Sean Penn stuck his gut and finger simultaneously out and shouted something about America! and Truth! and Lies!; just as the camera went dizzy with a spinning panorama of Washington monuments; while a square-jawed White Male sat on a bench under an umbrella in the rain; and we watched an Arab man in a old, crappy car drive around some indistinct streets dodging bullets and shouting “habibi!” at his child next to him; and Naomi Watts strode back into view, really pissed off this time but containing it because that’s what they taught her at “the farm”; and Sean Penn raged in marble corridors; and people flung thick stacks of bound documents on desks; and evil government hacks meddled in things they knew nothing about; as Naomi Watts found the true meaning of life in a hug from her daughter; and a dusty city with adobe houses shook from bombs; and a gigantic American flag forty times the size of America itself staggered up from the rubble and ruins; and Sean Penn broke down and wept like an infant; and as a single TV set flickered symbolically; in the rain; of America; we leaned over to ask: where the fuck is Matt Damon?

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