In the Dark

Slinging It

In the Valley of Elah
Produced by Blackfriars Bridge Films and Summit Entertainment
Written and directed by Paul Haggis
Distributed by Warner Independent Pictures

Michael Clayton
Produced by Castle Rock
Entertainment and Section 8
Written and directed by Tony Gilroy
Distributed by Warner Brothers

There are two kinds of symbolism: the gilded and the golden.  In the Valley of Elah exemplifies the first.  Writer-director Paul Haggis has followed his successful 2005 effort, Crash, with a turgid, foolish film in which he lamely tries to dramatize how the Iraq war is harming us on the home front.

Tommy Lee Jones, his creased face sagging with stoic resignation to time, gravity, and lousy screen-writing, plays retired Army man Hank Deerfield.  He lives with his wife (Susan Sarandon sans make-up) in a modest, suburban ranch in Tennessee and is a no-nonsense kind of guy.  When he buys a replacement part for his car’s engine, he bluntly asks the store owner, “Will it last?”  The merchant replies wistfully, “Hank, you’ve got to trust someone.”  He doesn’t, however.  Having spent a good deal of his career in the military police, he knows more than he’d like of human perfidy.

So we’re not surprised that...

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