A recurring critique in reviews that I seldom understand is the idea that something is “too beautiful,” that pictorial or behavioral beauty is objectionable when imposed upon certain stories. Such has been some of the slanging about “estheticism” at writer-producer-director-editor-cameraman-soundman-composer James Longley (“Gaza Strip”) regarding his triple-Sundance awarded “Iraq in Fragments.” Longley spent more than two years shooting 300 hours of material, eventually dividing the picture of post-war Iraq into three acts, representing Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish perspectives, including inside the religious movement of Moqtada Sadr.There is beauty, yes but true melancholy can be found in this intent, intense act of witness. 94m. (Ray Pride)
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published soon. Previews of the project are on Twitter and on Instagram as Ghost Signs Chicago. More photography on Instagram.