I wouldn’t call this a masterpiece, but it’s certainly honorable and original. I suspect that a major reason why Ari Folman’s animated nightmare has been picking up some sizable awards–best picture by the National Society of Film Critics, best foreign-language film at the Golden Globes–is that it does something that the mainstream U.S. news media more or less refuses to do. It allows the American public to express its disgust and horror for what’s currently happening in Gaza. In a similar way, albeit far more indirectly, roughly two year ago, Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima allowed many of us to cope a little better with some of our rage and sorrow about the occupation of Iraq. And as I noted at the time in my capsule review for that film, Waltz with Bashir also suggests that distinguishing between meaningful and senseless wars may be a civilian luxury. [1/12/09]

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