Owen Gleiberman
August 26, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Uncovered: The War on Iraq

Current Status
In Season
83 minutes
Limited Release Date
Robert Greenwald
Cinema Libre

We gave it an A-

Uncovered: The War on Iraq is a smashingly effective documentary — I found it more resonant than ”Fahrenheit 9/11” — yet to say that it’s preaching to the converted would be generous; it’s preaching to a microscopic sliver of the converted. The movie is part of a new wave of liberal-left exposés that wear their timely urgency like a campaign button. That sounds admirable, except that it’s the very topicality of movies like ”Uncovered,” ”The Hunting of the President,” and ”Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism” that results in their blending into the white noise of media overkill. Absent the proletarian star appeal of a Michael Moore, how many people will pay to see a fluid assemblage of the very same news clips that have been numbing them for free?

Robert Greenwald, the director of ”Uncovered” (and ”Outfoxed” as well), presents many fresh interviews, but his real talent is for deconstructing a flow of events you only thought you knew. He lines up statements by the Bush administration about the existence of WMD in Iraq over the period of a year: We see Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice slide from aggression to caution to tongue-tied sheepishness, and then — the punchline — they begin to sound like United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix, pleading for more time. In Greenwald’s hands, Colin Powell’s testimony before the U.N. becomes a meticulously annotated comedy of errors. The trademark of all these films is the blitzkrieg catchphrase montage. In ”Uncovered,” President Bush and his associates keep repeating the words mushroom cloud. The sheer repetition is scary and eye-opening: a weapon of mass delusion.

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