Cutting losses?

With two grim milestones passed -- the fifth year of war and the 4,000th soldier killed in action -- it would seem prime time for the presidential candidates to push the issue in their campaigns. John McCain, for one, seems to have pretty much taken it for granted that the war has been won (winning = endless U.S. military presence) and is setting the groundwork for a similar intractable, bloody and unrthinkably costly conflict in Iran. The Democrats, meanwhile, have been distracted by more serious issues such as what Obama’s pastor said and whether Clinton “misspoke” about enemy groundfire when her plane landed in Bosnia 12 years ago.

So you can’t really blame a filmmaker for not pushing the war, even if that’s what her film is ostensibly about. Especially given the success rate of every previous film on the subject. After “Boys Don’t Cry,” her unflinching 1999 film about gender blurring and sexual violence, Kimberly Peirce doesn’t seem like the type to back down from a controversy  or from a risk. Her new film “Stop-Loss” is ostensibly about the psychology of traumatized  Iraq War vets and their exploitation by a military that assigns them to repeated tours of duty. But in the words of the “Hollywood Reporter:”  “you wouldn't know it from the trailer, which emphasizes a young cast in moments of camaraderie in Texas. Or from the poster, which has the vibe of a ‘Friday Night Lights’ or ‘Varsity Blues’ as much as ‘Platoon’ or ‘Full Metal Jacket.’”

Similarly, Erroll Morris’s new film “Standard Operating Procedure,” a documentary about the Abu Ghraib prison, also grapples with the disturbing psychic toll the war has had on the soldiers compelled to wage it. So far, though he and those marketing the film have not attempted to disguise the film’s connections with the Iraq War. Rumors that a nervous studio executive suggested retitling it “Muhammed’s Heroes” and retooling it as an update of the wacky 1960s TV show about a Nazi POW camp have not been substantiated.


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