(T)ERROR Screen 15 articles

(T)ERROR

2015

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  • The directors might have arrived at the conclusion that, in the event, Torres isn’t that compelling to watch. If there’s one shot of him holding or smoking a blunt, there might be 20. The triangulation of the plot opens up the film and does result in the airing of some filthy FBI laundry. But all this amazing access feels somehow squandered (Laura Poitras is credited as creative consultant, and the movie sometimes feels as underwater as some of her early work).

  • In a society that breeds fear and turns its undoubting citizens against each other, is there a leeway for justice to prevail? True to Godard's words that all good documentaries tend towards fiction,(T)ERROR brings to us the unbelievable story of a few individuals who get trapped in the system, only because of the colour of their skins and the length of their beards.

  • (T)ERROR relishes ethical complication in its portrait of ex-convict-turned-FBI informant Saeed ‘Shariff’ Torres, then transforms into a stunning, infuriating indictment of the current incarnation of the War on Terror with a twist in perspective that is as surprising as anything I’ve recently seen. The film is simultaneously great journalism and great filmmaking, but it doesn’t use the institutional norms of the former to overtake the requirements of the latter.

  • Mindboggling for the fact that the filmmakers, with almost no effort, got an inside look at an FBI infiltration operation, and also for its revelation of the stepped-up number (now in the thousands annually) of attempted entrapments of suspected terrorists.

  • (T)ERROR displays a staggering propensity for carefully examining its unauthorized scenario without succumbing to either too insular or too general a set of assertions.

  • The first effort of a new directing team, Lyric Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe, (T)ERROR conveys a sense of absurdity, awe and wonderment.

  • It’s a startling expose of just how unglamorous, morally dicey, and frankly janky our domestic spy game is.

  • Despite its nonfiction framework, (T)error is a master class in narrative storytelling: text messages between Torres and the FBI scroll ominously across the screen in the lead-up to the ill-advised sting, information regarding the protagonists’ past associations and transgressions is sparingly and strategically divulged, and the directors expertly shift, and complicate, our sympathies for Torres and Kalifah throughout.

  • It’s a film that knows quite well what it’s doing and why, but also finds purpose in stirring the audience into a state of unease. Where Citizenfour was strident and declamatory, (T)error is slippery, unstable, and personal, adopting an anxiety that mirrors that of the surveillance state it’s exposing.

  • In a newly tightened cut since winning a special jury award at Sundance, (T)ERROR presents a rare and occasionally riveting opportunity to experience a counterterrorism sting from an FBI informant's perspective. Proving that the sexy espionage of Homeland and countless movies is far removed from reality, directors Lyric R. Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe offer an unpretentiously straightforward profile of 63-year-old Muslim and former Black Panther "Shariff"...

  • It’s beyond-commonplace to say a nonfiction film will live or die on the strength of its “characters”—which is to say, the access forged by the filmmakers and their onscreen participants. But good luck imagining a bigger get than Cabral and Sutcliffe’s, which started when the former lived upstairs from Torres in Harlem, utterly unaware of his double-agent status.

  • The most artful new films I saw at True/False this year tended to be vague in their sense of political context. The one exception was (T)error, about a former Black Panther-turned-FBI informant and the white Muslim convert he’s assigned to entrap in a terror plot. Like Pekosinski, it’s a nightmarish comedy about a puppet at the hands of the state, whose massive surveillance campaigns and knotty, oversized bureaucracies come to resemble those of Soviet satellite nations.

  • For a film that revels in shadows and tight framing,(T)ERROR is revealing, frightening, and—as intended—infuriating. Its portrayal of present-day fear-mongering is arguably more effective than Laura Poitras’s Citizenfour (the film’s creative consultant) for how brashly the efforts overlap with explicit Islamophobia.

  • As the documentary progresses (and, unbeknownst to Saeed, begins to follow Khalifa as well), Sutcliffe and Cabral artfully lay bare a formerly secret process, and ultimately pose the question: does the public really benefit from programs that compromise the rule of law they claim to be fighting for?

  • For all of (T)error’s topicality and its thriller-like qualities, what makes the film is Sutcliffe and Cabral’s compact, complex portrait of Saeed – paranoid, chatty, mired in self-loathing, but also oddly reflective... [It] goes from being a tense procedural and absorbing character study to an astonishing, real-life satire about the surveillance state. You won’t know whether to laugh or cry.

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