In loving, living memory, John Melançon 1928 – 2007
Like its dictator-nailing subtitle, “Granito” often feels in its certitude like an inversion of vintage neoconservatism.
How to Nail a Dictator
Opens on Wednesday in Manhattan.
Directed by Pamela Yates; edited by Peter Kinoy; produced by Paco de Onís; released by Skylight Pictures. At the IFC Center, 323 Avenue of the Americas, at Third Street, Greenwich Village. In English and Spanish, with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 43 minutes. This film is not rated.
A fabricated equivalent to an evil being struggled against is a common response from people who want to be comfortable with the status quo of that evil. The reviewer seeks to inoculate readers against an unstoppable desire for justice that often comes with a more full understanding of the world, which Granito would help bring. He does this, if only to preserve his own false peace of mind with the state of the world and his comfortable place in it, by flattering New York Times readers with the conceit that they are sophisticated observers with a deeper knowledge of a complex world (including Guatemala) than 30-year documentary filmmaker Pamela Yates. This way he does not have to make explicit his thesis — as it would be ridiculous if he were to do so — that there are points to be made in the dictator's favor.
To properly credit critic Paul Brunick the main tactic he employs is another classic: Admit bluntly to the evil in the past ("the genocidal military junta backed by the United States") but try to discredit its connections to present day injustice— all as part of doing anything to spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt about taking world-changing action to fix problems, end evil, or redress injustice. It is not a new observation that writers of the New York Times are paid to pile a mass of words (Latin or not) "upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details."
My friend Kara Andrade (who as a matter of fact likes the New York Times) helped get Granito produced.