In another lesson of, "don't listen to reviews," our Art House Meetup group went to see The Bang Bang Club on Saturday night at the West End Cinema where it continues this week. It's an extraordinary film, mostly because it's based on the true story of a group of photographers in South Africa in the last years before Mandela was elected president. These four guys do everything with style, flair, crazy courage and talent. Two of them win Pulitzer Prizes, and inevitably bad things happen from the risks they take. I think some of the criticism of the film has come from the parts where they go out drinking and show another side, but it seemed pretty reasonable considering the violence they preactically run into on a daily basis. Also I read that the timing was bad considering the death of photographer/director Tim Hetherington in Libya last week. I think that timing makes it a bit body-tingling; the stuff these photographers do in war scenes is real - and crazy.
It's beautifully filmed with some too-real-to-believe riot scenes. As some fact-based films have done lately, it shows us real photos at the end of the people and some events, and it sure looks like a lot did happen close to the way it's shown. Ryan Philippe does well in the lead role, able to portray enough vulnerability and humanity to go along with the craziness. Josh told us that the co-author of the book, Greg Marinovich, was in Washingtopn last week to visit the other co-author, Joao Silva, who was seriously injured in Afghanistan and is now at Walter Reed Hospital. Without notice, Marinovich visited the West End Cinema. It's a shame he couldn't have done a talk. Also a shame that the DC Film Festival could not have landed this film for opening night - with writer/director Steven Silver, Phillippe and Marinovich - instead of the awful Potiche - with nobody. That would have been amazing and I'm sure the Canadian Embassy would have gotten involved. (Many Canadian groups are thanked in the credits.)
Try to see this film if you can.