Saturday, January 03, 2009

Is there Such a Thing as 'Nice Bombs'?

"Shot in January 2004, just 10 months after the American-led invasion of Iraq, Chicago filmmaker Usama Alshaibi’s offbeat documentary “Nice Bombs” engages the viewer with an oddly casual tone. A Baghdad native, Alshaibi chronicles his return home with his wife and father to see his extended family for the first time in 24 years. It opens with Alshaibi describing his personal history and explaining his motives for returning to Baghdad. After arriving and reuniting with his family, he and his wife, Kristie, wander around Baghdad making such observations as everything “smells like gasoline.” Accused by some critics of meandering and lacking distinctiveness among what is now a sea of documentaries on post-Saddam Iraq, the film succeeds in capturing a distinct moment in Iraqi history: a moment of uncertainty when the country was still teetering on the brink of hope and despair. Although the cool tone does not sit well with everyone, the New York Times commends it for allowing “the occasional jarring moment to arterialize naturally.” Ending with a phone call to a shattered Baghdad two years later, the film implies that it was all for nothing. You think?"