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DVD review: Death-squad bosses speak in eerie 'Act of Killing'

Published January 7, 2014 8:45 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Grade • A

DVD • At first, you have trouble believing "The Act of Killing" could even exist, because the idea that director Joshua Oppenheimer got former leaders of Indonesian death squads to talk about their many killings — and act them out in the style of Hollywood gangster movies and splashy musical numbers — is jaw-droppingly absurd on its face.

But Oppenheimer persists in this eerie documentary, giving these unrepentant thugs all the metaphorical rope they need to hang themselves over crimes for which they never have been punished.

The results are at once disquieting and fascinating, especially when one of the killers takes the role of one of his victims — and the weight of decades of suppressed guilt is unleashed in an instant. —

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