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Sunday, September 5, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW 
The Tillman Story
Dishonoring An Honorable Man By Wrapping Him In The Yolk Of Fake Heroism

This is Pat "F--king" Tillman.  He was killed on April 22, 2004.  The U.S. Military and Government labeled him a "hero".  Mr. Tillman himself didn't believe in heroes or in lionization. 
The Weinstein Company

by Omar P.L. Moore/PopcornReel.com        Follow popcornreel on Twitter FOLLOW
Sunday, September 5, 2010

He was Pat "F--king" Tillman but the U.S. government called him a hero. 

Mr. Tillman's family didn't like that one bit, especially when he died under less than heroic circumstances while on a tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2004.  Pat Tillman, an American soldier, formerly an NFL linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals, was killed by one of his own fellow soldiers in a canyon.  The U.S. government and military first said Mr. Tillman was killed by enemy fire.  The Tillman family investigated and dug up the truth.  The government and military had lied.

Pat Tillman's last words on April 22, 2004 were, "I'm Pat Fucking Tillman!" 

Director Amir Bar-Lev chronicles the messy, convenient lies and Josh Brolin narrates the inconvenient truth about Mr. Tillman's murder in "The Tillman Story", a documentary that opened on Friday in San Francisco while continuing elsewhere in the U.S.  The film is making its way around the county.

Many are familiar with the news that Pat Tillman, an young American man angered and stunned by the events of September 11, 2001, enlisted in the military for a three-year period beginning in 2002.  He went to Afghanistan and never returned. 

Most however, are unfamiliar with just how poisonous and duplicitous the U.S. military's role was in the cover-up of Mr. Tillman's fateful demise.  "The Tillman Story" brings this largely untold story into sharp new focus.  The documentary, essentially about a testimonial about a nation wronged and a family scarred, is aptly named, for it depicts a family's tireless effort, spearheaded with unyielding dedication by "Dannie" Tillman, Pat's mother.  The interviews in the film consist mainly of Pat's family members, including his wife, father and youngest brother. 

There are few countervailing viewpoints, and a military official is dangled before us as a sacred cow.  He isn't on camera to be pitied, though he's more a casualty of the military's public relations war in the propagandistic framing of the Tillman narrative than an official to necessarily level outrage at.

Mr. Bar-Lev, who previously directed (and unwittingly became a major part of) his last documentary "My Kid Could Paint That", stays out of sight altogether here.  In short, the story told in the film about Mr. Tillman, who he was and what he was, is unabashedly clear, and it plays itself out on all its triumphant, tragic and pathological levels.  "The Tillman Story" is haunting, important and a vital reminder that reframing a story and sanitizing a war to sell to a fearful if not gullible public, is a cowardly, not heroic act.  Cynically ballyhooing "heroism" in a deceased man who went out of his way to shun it offends both the man himself and the nation that regurgitated heroism's false echo. 

Private Jessica Lynch would attest to that, and Mr. Bar-Lev uses historical context, never before-seen video footage and an intertwined view of Americana -- football and patriotism -- and turns what they represent inside out when holding them to the light of day on the big screen.

"The Tillman Story" should be mandatory viewing in high school civics classes.

"The Tillman Story" is rated R by the Motion Picture Association Of America for language.  The film's running time is one hour and 35 minutes.

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