The Empty Balcony: Thief

Thief, the debut feature film from writer/director Michael Mann, is a bit of a relic. The 1980s were a weird time, when the progressions of style were suddenly upended and everything went day-glo. Even music changed, utilizing the cost-effective yet grating sound of synthesizers. Michael Mann embraced this decade with gusto, finding a ready home in all the glitz and glamour. His style of filmmaking is so intertwined with the 1980s that I can’t figure out which informed the other. The style is a distinctive one that viewers can readily recognize. But it all had to start somewhere. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: Thief”

The Empty Balcony: Black Hawk Down

Black Hawk Down is perhaps the simplest movie I’ve ever viewed, and also the most complicated. The United States intervention in Somalia is a footnote in America’s foreign policy history, but it is quite weighted, to the point that a student of recent American politics ignores it at their own peril. The initial American operation in Somalia, Operation Provide Relief, part of UNOSOM I (United Nations Operation in Somalia I), began in August 1992 as a response to the massive amount of killing and humanitarian suffering throughout the country. It was followed by UNITAF (Unified Task Force), also known as Operation Restore Hope, which lasted from December 1992 to May 1993. During that time, the United States suffered 43 killed and 143 wounded, but was able to increase the security of much of the country. After the mission ended, however, the peace did not last, as the warlords reasserted their control and chaos took hold once again. This led to UNOSOM II, Operation Gothic Serpent, and ultimately to the Battle of Mogadishu. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: Black Hawk Down”