Being a Southern Jew, I and a number of my Jewish friends had absolutely nothing to do on Christmas Eve other than watch It's a Wonderful Life for the 90th time, so we all got together for a Jew-crew Christmas Eve tradition: Chinese food and a movie. How our people survived for forty years in a desert without Chinese food, I'll never know.
For our Christmas Eve movie, we decided on Munich. For anyone who has been living in a hole for the past month, Munich tells the story of a group of former Israeli Mossad agents who are assigned to avenge the kidnapping and murder of 11 Israeli athletes in the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics by the PLO (under the guise of the name "Black September"), a Palestinian-Arab terrorist group (that has now, thanks to the Oslo Accords, been granted legitimacy...good job Oslo). When I first heard the title of the movie, I was excited because I thought Spielberg was going to create a movie about the actual events of Munich. I've seen a number of documentaries about those events (since I was actually born after they happened, I couldn't witness them myself), and, frankly, a two and a half hour movie could easily be made about those events, the apathy of the international community, Germany's inconceivable series of blunders and fuck-ups that led to the Israeli athletes deaths, and how the Olympic response of having the games continue was "almost like having a dance at Dachau." The movie, however, is content to attempt to sum up those events in a series of flashbacks and focuses instead on Israel's purported response to this vicious public attack during an athletic event that is supposed to be a peaceful expression of athletic competition.
I say "purported" because, despite the events in Munich that led to the movie and Mossad's actual efforts to bring justice to the perpetrators of the crimes, the movie is a work of fiction. Like so many movies today, Munich is "based on" real events. I've learned to be apprehensive of this often-used phrase. After all, "The Terminal"--where Tom Hanks plays a foreign man who is trapped in an airport terminal for months where he learns English, falls in love, and creates an entire life for himself--is based on real events (probably that some guy was once trapped in an airline terminal overnight). "The Perfect Storm"--where George Clooney boldly leads a fishing crew into a "perfect" storm that results in their deaths--was so "based on" true events that it led Clooney's real-life character's family to sue the filmmakers for defamation. "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" was so loosely "based on real events" that the fine print that follows the movie states that the movie should not be considered accurate in any regard.
So, "based on" is pretty much an analogy for "bullshit."
But that wasn't my biggest problem with the movie. Neither was the incredibly controversy in the Jewish community that this movie has inspired. Nope. My issue was a bit more fundamental.
The movie sucked.
Call me crazy, but I'm of the absurd philosophy that if I spend two and a half hours of my time and nine dollars to see a movie, I should leave the movie entertained. I wasn't. My informal test of whether a movie is boring is how often I check my watch. Zero or one time (because, after all, some movies are long, but still entertaining), I was entertained. Two times, questionable. Three times, sub par.
I checked the time in this movie five times. That's right. Five times.
You'd think with a controversy surrounding it and Oscar buzz before the movie was even released, the movie wouldn't suck. Well, there goes that theory.
UPDATE: My powers of prognostication are quite impressive, if I do say so myself. Don't believe me? Take a look at this.
ANOTHER UPDATE: One of my favorite blogs, Jewlicious, recently ran a post pointing out the fictional-facts of the movie. While you can read the excellent post here, I couldn't help but repost the graphic originally created by ck and posted on the Jewlicious website. Man, I wish I knew how to make these things...