Dogwatch: Raindance 22 Review

Dogwatch: Raindance 22 Review

Dogwatch: Raindance 22 Review

Remember when Somali Pirates were the cause of all kinds of breathless media coverage?  Movies starring Tom Hanks were even made — Captain Phillips.  Media coverage declined due to the fact that vessel owners wised up and took precautionary methods to prevent hijackings.  One of these measures was the hiring of highly trained onboard mercenaries. 

Eventually, even the pirates wised up and realized hijackings were not worth the effort.  Director Gregoris Rentis’s documentary, Dogwatch, follows these mercenaries as they train and dawdle about preparing for action, awaiting pirates that hardly ever come around anymore.  



We glimpse the mercenaries assembling their weapons, shaving their heads, shirtless and engaged in physical exercises, and even dancing in sweaty clubs surrounded by other male bodies.  Dogwatch feels like the documentary version of the Claire Denis classic, Beau Travail

But while Beau Travail had lots to say about masculinity and colonialism, Dogwatch is as tedious a watch as the repetitive exercises the mercenaries are expected to perform.  

Rentis is going for the poetry of the eternal wait—beautiful shots of follicles drifting down from shaved heads, the ebb and flow of mercenaries carrying bags up and down the stairs, the feel of an everlasting standby of waiting for Godot, for pirates, for some action, any action.  And as viewers, we also wait, wait, wait, and grow bored. 

If the point of Dogwatch is to capture the boredom of the mercenaries, then mission accomplished!  All this has been done before, and done better—again, Beau Travail.  Rentis certainly captures the quiet on the front; and this front sure is quiet, all too quiet.


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A Cuban-American obsessed with documentaries and anything by Kubrick, Haneke, Breillat, or McQueen. If he is not watching films in his hometown of Miami, he is likely travelling somewhere in Asia enjoying okonomiyaki or pho.

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