Killing them softly in a ‘documentary of the imagination’

Drafthouse Films 

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In the foreground, women dance slowly in lush tropical foliage, their arms swooping gracefully, deliberate, unhurried. Behind them, a waterfall plunges into unseen depths.

A man removes a thin garrote wire from around his neck. He reaches into his clothes and pulls out a gold medal, which glows like a halo, and presents it to Anwar Congo, who stands among the dancers. Cut to Congo watching the scene on a monitor. “I never imagined I could create something so beautiful,” he says.

Congo is a gangster (the Indonesian word for “gangster” is “preman,” from the English “free man,” which explains the “Born Free” reference, sort of) and he choreographed this nightmarish spectacle for “The Art of Killing,” director Joshua Oppenheimer’s unprecedented “documentary of the imagination.”

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