It’s an indictment of American news journalism that so many documentary filmmakers feel it’s their job to tell the stories of soldiers both in and returning from the Middle East. In this country, we’re offered a wealth of TV and news features on the subject, so there’s always a danger of overkill. Dennis Danfung’s self-shot ‘Hell and Back Again’ circumvents this familiarity both in its physical intimacy – Danfung’s camera stays just feet away from his subject, returning Marine Sergeant Nathan Harris – and its style, offering up a visually and aurally disorienting portrait of a man on the edge. But this meticulously maintained air of confusion also serves to distance us from the already unsympathetic Harris. The result is beautiful but uninvolving.
Friday October 14 2011
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