xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
At the height of the street fighting in Algiers, the French stage a press conference for a captured FLN leader. "Tell me, general," a Parisian journalist asks the revolutionary, "do you not consider it cowardly to send your women carrying bombs in their handbags, to blow up civilians?" The rebel replies in a flat tone of voice: "And do you not think it cowardly to bomb our people with napalm?" A pause. "Give us your airplanes and we will give you our women and their handbags."
"The Battle of Algiers," a great film by the young Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo, exists at this level of bitter reality. It may be a deeper film experience than many audiences can withstand: too cynical, too true, too cruel and too heartbreaking. It is about the Algerian war, but those not interested in Algeria may substitute another war; "The Battle of Algiers" has a universal frame of reference.
Pontecorvo announces at the outset that there is "not one foot" of documentary or newsreel footage in his two hours of film. The announcement is necessary, because the film looks, feels and tastes as real as Peter Watkins' "The War Game." Pontecorvo used available light, newsreel film stock and actual locations to reconstruct the events in Algiers. He is after actuality, the feeling that you are there, and he succeeds magnificently; the film won the Venice Film Festival and nine other festivals, and was chosen to open the New York Film Festival last November.
Some mental quirk reminded me of "The Lost Command," Mark Robson's dreadful 1965 film in which George Segal was the Algerian rebel and Anthony Quinn somehow won for the French. Compared to "The Battle of Algiers," that film and all Hollywood "war movies" are empty, gaudy balloons.