84 Charlie Mopic

The title refers to a cameraman (Byron Thames) who accompanies a six-man reconnaissance unit in the central highlands of Vietnam in 1969 (Mopic is a contraction of motion picture). A tour de force, this first feature by Patrick Duncan shows us only what the cameraman recordsan intensely physical rendering of the unit’s experiences on a mission, with the sound often carrying as much impact as the images. By dedramatizing the material and at the same time contriving to hold an audience’s interest, Duncan takes a courageous dive straight into the contradictions of what makes an honest yet compelling film about combat in Vietnam; what we see and hear certainly registers as real, although the verisimilitude seems at times to get in the way of storytelling (we don’t always make out everything that the characters are saying). Effectively shot in super-16-millimeter (by Alan Caso) and persuasively acted (by Jonathan Emerson, Nicholas Cascone, Jason Tomlins, Christopher Burgard, Glenn Morshower, and Richard Brooks), this uncompromising bug’s-eye view may not be for everyone, and it’s far from an unqualified success, but it certainly commands respect and attention. (JR)

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