Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Smugglers: or How I Have Yet Learned to Stop Worrying and Watch Lord of War and Blood Diamond

A rather short (but still self-involved) treatise on my rushing memories of Lord of War and Blood Diamond:

Two white men make semi-lucrative careers moving guns and goods between despotic warlords in Africa - where leadership is traded like violent payment for long-overdue gambling debts - many of whom exploit pre-adolescents for their impressionable wills and trigger fingers. Under the feigned ignorance of amorality (which doesn't exist) and cries of "meeting a service" (the same cries pushers on the West Side of Chicago mistakenly convince themselves of to cover up their shame in "making a market"), such Lords of War are arming kid energy-led platoons.

One of the child soldiers in BD assumes the nom-de-generation "Baby Killer." As Homer of the Simpsons would implore, "It works on so many levels."

Spoiler Alert!! (??); although I doubt it being that (a) it's pretty obvious to anyone who has seen snippets of it; (b) there's a good chance you may see neither film; (c) neither movie is a thriller, though both may have revelations along the way; (d) you're probably not reading this anyway.

The main difference between these two hung men (played by Nic Cage in LoW and Leonardo DiCaprio in BD) is that DiCaprio's character is slowly changing through the movie (partly led by the most foreign of all film conceits - he's in love). Although he could never directly tell anybody until the last minute, DiCaprio The Actor has to let us in on his character development.
Because of the political motivations behind the makers of LoW, though, Cage's character remains resigned to his role as a knowing cog-in-the-wheel-that-is-bigger-than-he. He remains a willing and winking scapegoat for a government that needs his support. For love of country, for love of money, he's got a duty to do, and he's gonna do it, come hell, high water, or his brother's merciless murder before his eyes. O yeah, don't forget the night with the AIDS-infected supermodels.

Unfortunately, message movies can effectively and affectively pass along much-needed (and sometimes mis-guided) information in such a way that asks us to pause before we act, or cause us to act (Why I didn't check before I bought our wedding rings is probably as good a place to start the self-aggrandizing. Though I suppose prayer, more research and money well-spent would be more appropriate and healthy), they can still contain the stench of lies.

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