Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini


Waltz with Bashir

Waltz with Bashir

Rated: R 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: December 25, 2008 Released by: Sony Pictures Classics

This adult-minded, captivating, cutting-edge documentary uses flash and 3D animation, working off of the notion, "Memory takes us where we need to go."

Ari Folman's subtitled Waltz With Bashir will be an unsettling experience, especially for those connected to the Lebanese War a quarter of a century ago. But, it is sharp, incisive filmmaking, not just for those drawn into one of many Middle East struggles.

Mickey Leon voices Boaz, who explains to auteur pal Ari about an ongoing dream of 26 dogs. It links to their time in the military, and Ari isn't clear about his time there, though he had to have been near the horrors at Sabra and Shatila. So, he's back to the place that has haunted him and renew old friends and acquaintances to help rid him of his "amnesia".

What's really crucial here is how many sequences induce a cogent dream-like state, perhaps akin to the rotoscoping methods used in films like Waking Life or A Scanner Darkly. It's stylized in cinema verite with nearly all the roles and the voices being the actually people playing them. Therefore, the burning desire to get to the bottom of things outweighs the disturbing effects of when one tries to reveal the memory of life.

Waltz With Bashir resonates on a high level in the need to cope with violence and the guilt and fear associated with it. And, Folman works crisply and diligently with his crew in a very creative way that renders a variety of events with such noticeable visual acumen.

Whether in a cafe, on a boat, taking a dip or passing through an idyllic, verdant part of Europe, one is easily immersed in what Ari is trying to finding out for himself. There's the remoteness and brotherhood in this harsh, sudden time frame that touches on the Nazis even with a stream of consciousness. The brutality can be arbitrary and some of the sights aren't for the faint of heart, even without being depicted in live-action. Yet, it's an amazing, nuanced portrait on celluloid that poignantly comments on war through its thoughtful talking heads, punctuated by some important news footage.

  Frank Chris Jim Nina Sam Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Waltz with Bashir        A-                  A- 

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