Last Flag Flying: Half-Mast, by Jim Rohner

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  1. Yes, an inconsistent and annoying film. To address just one annoyance, may I point out that the film’s version of the relatively popular war film notion you mention — that the government lies to us — is done in such a way as to make us in the audience *glad* that they do.

    This neat trick is accomplished because the film ignores the deadly consequential lies (e.g. the false justifications for an illegal war), instead focusing on the humane lie told to a grieving parent, that the dead marine or soldier died instantly, and painlessly, usually while doing something heroic. We want that government lie, because obviously no one could want the government to detail to parents how painfully their child died, or how slowly.

    The film further rallies the audience around the flag (rather than around public debate or recall petitions), and coaxes us to maintain our wearying support of military involvement, by having the marine shot from behind (cowards!) by a child (stop thinking civilians are innocent victims!) while delivering supplies (not gunfire) to an Iraqi school. Those details make this film seem like a morale-stiffening and sanitized early WWII war film, less balanced and gritty than even traditionally patriotic war films from the last two decades. More evidence of this? In the film two crusty old marines get back into uniform and back into marine thinking, and the third former marine is glad after all to have buried his son in uniform.

    If Richard Linklater had wanted to make yet another film that helps Americans stay supportive of our wars, OK, but it seems excessive and inexcusable to me to construct script details that seem designed to lull us into thinking that government lies are for our own good.

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