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Trailer for Rendition, with Meryl Streep, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Reese Witherspoon

September 10th, 2007 · 2 Comments · Blogs, Comics, Culture, Film, Human Rights, Media, News, Politics, Torture, Video

Via Towleroad, the trailer for the new movie Rendition, scheduled for release October 19 in the US.

I’m not usually one for movies that get the “thriller” label, but the political dimension to this one — and the quality of the cast — make it look like an early standout among fall releases.

There’s some interview with Jake about the film here:

Like the grey-flannel spook played by Burton in the black-and-white Cold War classic, Gyllenhaal’s Douglas Freeman is a man who’s having a hard time keeping the mask up. Standing and watching as Omar Metwally’s Anwar El-Ibrahimi is subjected to increasingly cruel forms of punishment, Freeman becomes increasingly unsettled as the evidence of something altogether unfamiliar begins to trouble the surface of his professional composure.

That something is a conscience, and the actions Freeman will take as a result of its emergence will be the closest anything in Rendition comes to heroic.

“But I hope people don’t walk out of the movie cheering for the guy,” Gyllenhaal observes.

“Because he’s just one guy. And what I really liked about this script is that there’s no right and wrong, at least as far as my character is concerned. There’s only does it work or not? And since he thinks the methods aren’t working, he sees no point in them. And who knows if what he ultimately does really does anything anyway?”

I remember how only a couple of years ago, when you tried to explain to people around the water cooler that the US sometimes kidnapped people and flew them to countries where torture was practiced, they’d start measuring your head for tinfoil. I can’t seem to find the specific blog post today or I’d link to it, but there was an incident a couple of years ago where the office of a certain rock star Democratic senator sent out a letter flatly denying that the US would ever engage in such a practice (in response to a letter from a blogger protesting the use of extraordinary rendition). This was after extraordinary rendition had started to be reported on in the mainsteam media, although not exactly on page one. The letter was much discussed on the lefty blogs I read at the time, and was one of the reasons I started to lose confidence in the senator in question, although perhaps it was just his staff that weren’t up to speed on the issue yet.

At any rate, I think there’s more awareness of the issue these days. But I hope that after this movie everyone will understand what the words “extraordinary rendition” mean — both literally, and in terms of America’s identity as a free country that values human rights.

Related: Tom Tomorrow explains extraordinary rendition in cartoon form.


2 Comments so far ↓

  • Aaron

    “perhaps it was just his staff that weren’t up to speed on the issue yet”

    Sure would be nice if he’d get up to speed on important things on his own. That way, he could send out letters with non-wiffly-waffly responses, like “I’ll certainly pay attention to this (and jump on the winning side’s bandwagon, except I won’t write that in this letter, because I want your primary vote).”

  • Ocelopotamus

    Agreed. It all goes back to the question of leadership, and whether people really want a leader who perpetually has his or her finger to the wind — or whether they’re more likely to vote for someone who makes a bold statement now and then. I think recent history has made the answer to that pretty clear.