The Act of Killing

Rated NR 159 minutes 2012

This disturbing, repellant, yet totally engrossing documentary takes us to contemporary Indonesia, where the men responsible for the political murders of thousands (some say millions) of “undesirables,” dating from that country’s 1965 military dictatorship, have gotten away with their crimes and are feeling good — even boastful — about it. The international filmmakers (it’s a Denmark/Norway/UK production) then take the outrage a step further, by offering to let the offending gangsters and paramilitary thugs re-enact their ugliest atrocities for the movie cameras. The result is almost physically nauseating, not only for the cruel violence but for the unashamed, simple-minded bloodlust of the killers, who seem to have always garroted and raped “communist” victims who had something the gangsters wanted. The Absurd-Banal-Hideous-O-Meter hits eleven and breaks. Bring a strong stomach with you to the theater. Co-directed by Americans Joshua Oppenheimer and Christine Cynn, and an Indonesian credited as Anonymous — alongside the other Indonesian members of the film crew. Among the producers are Werner Herzog and Errol Morris, who know a provocative project when they smell one (115 min.).

Film Credits

Director: Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn and Anonymous

Producer: Signe Sorenson, Joram ten Brink, Anne Kohncke, Michael Uwemedino, Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn, Anonymous, Errol Morris and Werner Herzog

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