Strange Culture (2007)
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as Steve Kurtz
as Steve Kurtz
as Hope Kurtz
as Robert Ferrell
as Phil, Phil/Lynn Hershman Leeson
Critic Reviews for Strange Culture
Outrage overkill that gives as much weight to the government trashing Steve's house and locking his cat in the attic as it does their desecration of the First Amendment.
As sad as it is to realize that youth activism in this country is dead, it's sadder still to find yourself agreeing that they have a point.
Somewhere between documentary and dramatization, fact and impression, Strange Culture molds one manâ(TM)s tragedy into an engrossing narrative experiment.
A terrible personal tragedy and a penetrating case study in the intolerance and paranoia that still surrounds avant-garde art in America.
Slipping in and out of character, variously embodying, studying, and commenting on their counterparts, the actors manage both dramatic reenactment and its deconstruction with aplomb.
Echoing the 2006 Oscar-winning German film The Lives of Others, Leeson's film is a scary testament to the power of fear.
Audience Reviews for Strange Culture
Depressing and informative. Could've cut a little of the fat off it (the idiot student asshat with the whole "Yo, like, I don't know what like he didn't do, knowwhatimean? But yo, like, I dont want to be on a watch list and not be able to get that phat corporate job knowwhatimean, aight?") Scary and important, more attention needs to be brought to this seriously fucked up court case of bullshittery.
[FONT=Georgia][COLOR=Black] [I]Strange Culture[/I] is a strange movie almost to the point of being pointless. You see the names of Tilda Swinton and Peter Coyote and you think, "I'm gonna see some good acting." Wrong! Almost no acting. I couldn't figure out why they even bothered. The only value of this movie is in informing the public about an event that most of us hadn't even known about - and 60 Minutes could have done that just as well if not better, and to a much larger public. Swinton plays Hope Kurtz, who dies in the first 10-15 minutes after speaking relatively few lines of dialogue. After that, there are a few minutes of Thomas Jay Ryan acting as Steve Kurtz with one of his professorial colleagues, and a few student scenes, and then...nothing. The entire remainder of the film is merely interviews of Kurtz and those who were helping and standing by him, and interviews of the actors talking about the movie that they were barely acting in and about the importance of the event the movie was portraying. The last half of this short (75 minutes) movie has zero acting; it's all documentary. And as a documentary, it's second-rate. Interviews with the real-life protagonists, and a few clips of news stories (like Keith Olbermann) - and that's it. It could have been a good movie about an important subject - instead it was neither a good drama nor a good documentary. Informative, yes - but already dated because in fact it was made too soon. Kurtz was advised not to say much about the current court situation (you can find out in Wikipedia that a judge dismissed the indictments against Kurtz in April 2008), so Peter Coyote [I]read[/I] Kurtz's statement - no acting by Coyote, just a reading. Why bother? The subject was prime material for an excellent movie like [I]Breach[/I] or any other fine dramatization of a fascinating and important real-life event. Instead, the director, who also wrote and edited (that had to be a large part of the problem), shows herself to have had a limited vision, and thus didn't do justice to and in fact badly failed Kurtz and the vital subject of post-9/11, post-Patriot Act, post-Military Commissions Act, authoritarian, paranoid, secretive, criminal government. As much as I wanted to like this movie, I was very disappointed, even bored, and cannot at all understand the good reviews, except by assuming the critics wanted to be politically correct. Well, they could have applauded the intent and criticized the execution without being incorrect.
This half documentary, half movie-based-on-real-events (I'm not sure about the proportions) is outrageous. It's sad to see that an innocent man faced such injustice just because of the paranoia and lack of judgment reigning in some institutions. It's good to know that he was ultimately acquitted. However, that is not a reason to miss this movie.
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