Someone get the left a new playbook, fast — we’re dying here. Eugene Jarecki tries to rally the troops with the umpteenth political documentary of the last half-decade but ends up employing the same dumb-downed manipulative methods as the right-wing propaganda machine. Why We Fight is all over the place — at its best it accurately details the increasing influence since WWII of the military-industrial complex, a confluence of the arms industry, political militarism, and corporate interests now mainly in the service of neo-con think tanks. That’s admirable, but the rest of Why is so intent on emotional sucker punching that one can’t help the bitter feeling of being used. Queasily exploitative “human interest” narratives are threaded throughout, while calculating musical cues override criticism: creepy piano chords for the build-up to war, symphonic swells for the destruction, Johnny Cash’s version of ‘Hurt’ for the walk through the wreckage. Everyone leaves with ideologies safely intact.
Opens January 20 at Angelika Film Center