Bitter Lake Screen 10 articles

Bitter Lake

2015

Bitter Lake Poster
  • [The Chinese Mayor] was a suitable antidote to the tiresome insinuations and pseudo-analysis of Bitter Lake, a bloated essay on Afghanistan and the West by True/False award-winner Adam Curtis, whose knack for mapping out complex cultural-historical narratives utterly fails him here.

  • Curtis might learn a thing or three here from reading Chris Harman, the late socialist whose simplified overviews of complex historical phenomena always included people of the same class as those who were meant to be engaged and inspired by them. Given that his final rallying cry is for ‘us’ to seek alternatives to the existing political regime, it might have helped Curtis’s cause to give some evidence of people’s power in between more familiar images of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

  • This kaleidoscopic barrage of images and associations skirts waywardness and incoherence at times, but is achieved with sufficient brio and sensitivity to endow Bitter Lake with a rich complexity that rewards close attention. It's not just still waters than run deep.

  • Curtis has made a powerful statement about many and varied important issues. The most haunting image for me remains that of the dead Afghan teenager, on a potholed road in the mountains, some time in the 1980s.

  • There are simplifications aplenty in Adam Curtis’s Bitter Lake, which tells a near-century-long history of Western meddling in Afghanistan, but there are more than enough formal and philosophical complexities in play, not to mention reliably provocative musical cues, to guide us well beneath the surface of things.

  • Curtis may have finally started reading his Youtube comment sections, since this seems like a sly response to both his own rigid aesthetic and the legions of conspiracy nuts who view him as the One True Prophet of the documentary form.

  • Director Adam Curtis has dedicated much of his career to testing the limits of experiential forms of art and media, best exemplified by his 2010 documentary It Felt Like a Kiss, which examines 20th-century politics through an intellectual montage of pop-cultural moments... However, Curtis isn't merely a collage filmmaker and his new documentary, Bitter Lake, is a profound testament to harnessing newly formulated ambitions beyond merely proffering archival footage employed in new contexts.

  • This isn't a history lesson so much as a waking nightmare, a death cycle. Those opening remarks might be impossible to prove, but by the end of the film, you feel in your gut that they make sense.

  • Final mention should be made of the other Rotterdam standout, Adam Curtis’s gripping Bitter Lake, which also appeared in the “Everyday Propaganda” section. The latest of Curtis’s BBC-sponsored counter-history essays, it dovetails neatly with The Power of Nightmares in examining the place of Afghanistan in the postwar era as a geopolitical crossroads from the Cold War to the post-9/11 era.

  • Curtis patiently tries to untangle the confidential, friendly relationship between Washington and Riyadh, and to debunk the nebulous narratives that have distorted the nature of every Middle Eastern conflict that has taken place since WWII. It is no easy task, which is reflected in Bitter Lake’s labyrinthine form.

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