Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Government accountability, front and center, in Gavin Hood's exemplary OFFICIAL SECRETS

Anyone interested in recent history -- including how and why certain western powers got into an unjust, stupid and worthless (except to those corporate and individual folk who continue to profit from it) war that is still going on -- will not want to miss OFFICIAL SECRETS, the film co-written and directed by Gavin Hood that tells the based-on-life story of British intelligence agency whistleblower, Katharine Gun, who leaked information about an illegal NSA spy operation designed to push the UN Security Council into sanctioning the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

In the film, we see our own President George W. Bush and Colin Powell, as well as Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair, blatantly lying on to the television cameras (Powell has since apologized for this; so far as I know, Bush and Blair never have) in the run-up to the vile Iraq War. What filmmaker Hood (pictured at right), his co-writers and his very starry British cast have done remarkably well, is to bring to immediate and visceral life how word of these sleazy goings-on, which resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, managed to leak out to the world -- despite the leak's doing, finally, not one lick of good in halting the war.

Still, as the Brit journalist (played so well by Matt Smith, above and below) points out late in the proceedings, the British government that did this, and the British press that mostly managed to cover it up, rather than actually cover it, must answer for their behavior. As should the American press, along with the corrupt and criminal past administration most responsible for the atrocity.

Yet no one has ever taken responsibility for any of this. The cowardly Obama administration did nothing to bring the criminals to any kind of remote justice (or even admission of responsibility), and then allowed Wall Street and the Banks to profit from their misdeeds involving mortgages, bubbles and world-wide meltdowns. Anyone naive enough to wonder how Donald Trump arrived at his present position need only consider this: When government responsibility is shirked over and over again, a nation ends up with someone in charge who actually revels in irresponsbility. (Italy and Berlusconi provide an even earlier example.)

The movie's greatest strength lies in its wonderful detailing of everything we see and hear -- from how the leaked information slowly makes its way public, to how the press works (or sometimes doesn't) to Mrs. Gun (achingly, vitally portrayed by Keira Knightley, above) and her life at work and at home with her immigrant Muslim husband (Adam Bakri, below), who is used by her government in a particularly nasty manner.

In these wonderfully real and specific details -- as well as in dialog that, while always believable, does a bang-up job of bringing the details and plot strands together -- Mr. Hood and his crew find the way to offer up a hugely important slice of recent history. If you don't follow British history as closely as you do American (if anyone still does much of either), Gun's story will not be so familiar, and its outcome (particularly the "why" of that outcome) will surprise you.

Along the way, you'll be treated to some of the UK's finest performers, from Ralph Fiennes (above, bewigged, front and center), Jeremy Northam (as Fiennes' friend/foe), Matthew Goode (below) and Rhys Ifans, among a bunch of others. All do a first-rate job. TrustMovies suspects many of these fine actors came aboard this project for reasons as much to do with its importance as with their own egos and/or paychecks.

As good as is the supporting cast, it's Ms Knightley who gives the film its heart, mind and strength. Her performance is so impressive that, however you may feel about this ongoing war and the venal politicians who enabled it, it will be difficult not to understand why this woman acted as she did.

From IFC Films and running a just-about-perfect 111 minutes, Official Secrets, named for the (in)famous "Official Secrets Act" -- used by the British government (as so many countries use similar "laws") to silence its citizens in the name of national security -- after opening on the coasts, hits South Florida this Friday, September 13. Look for it at the AMC Aventura 24 and Sunset Place 24 and the CMX Brickell City Center, and Cobb's Downtown at the Gardens 16

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