Matthew Suib
2003
(from the ReVisionist Cinema series)
Color video w/audio on DVD for projection
Running time: 10:00

Created druing the political 'high noon' of 2003, Matthew Suib's ten-minute film Cocked meticulously edits scenes from a dozen Westerns to create a seamless and seemingly endless 'standoff' between two-dozen Hollywood cowboys. The psychodrama of the participants sizing each other up and staring each other down is told through a series of close ups of shifting eyes and twitching trigger fingers. The tense showdown mimics the international build-up to the war in Iraq.

The 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' approach of the US administration resembled the witch trials of 17th century Salem, but the language was steeped in the rhetoric of the old west. Saddam Hussein was branded an 'outlaw' and Osama Bin Laden was wanted 'dead or alive'. President Bush's famous repeated line "We're gonna smoke 'em out" comes straight out of a spaghetti western...

...Like a straight-shootin' cowboy, Bush reduces complex moral issues into black or white terms. It is considerably easier to sell you agenda without the grey. In the era of the sound-bite, nuance reads as indecisiveness.

In Cocked, it is the nuance that propels the narrative....The anti-climax, where the stand-off becomes a stand-down, offers an alternative worth considering before the entire sequence of events in Iraq plays itself out again, like a sequel, in Iran. History repeating itself with the same predictability as genre cinema.

-Dave Dyment

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