The Hard Stuff

Below, the trailer for this year’s movie the “endurance cinephile” in your life (the guy who prides himself on having “made it through” notoriously heavy/violent/controversial works) will be going on about this year: “The Act of Killing.” The good news? It indeed looks/sounds kind of amazing.

The premise? In Indonesia, the government that operated the country’s notorious Death Squad killings of communists and suspected communists that are said to have numbered at least 1,000,000 is still effectively running the show, and while the vestiges of a modernizing nation are all present the perpetrators of this genocide have gone largely unpunished – rather, many live as lionized national celebrities. In “Act,” filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer documents the life of a (mostly) unrepentant death squad leader named Anwar Congo, now a grandfather, who claims to have personally killed 1,000 men himself.
The hook? Oppenheimer asks (and provides the resources) for Congo and his surviving co-killers to make a movie about their death-squad exploits. Not a documentary or a historical-recreation, mind you, but a narrative version of the events from their point of view. As it turns out, Congo’s particular outfit were gangsters specializing in movie-piracy before they were conscripted to help with the slaughter… and they’re big movie buffs. So not only does their version feature death squad killings (with them directing the amateur actors playing the victims and killers) recreated by the guys who did them with low-budget special-effects makeup and gore, it also ends up featuring “arty” setpieces, elaborate costumes, fantasy-sequences and (apparently) a musical number.

Yes. A documentary about mass-murderers directing, staging and acting-in a lavish, “visionary” movie about their own mass-murders. Holy. Shit.

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