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David Michod's 'War Machine' uses satire to cast a critical eye on the war in Afghanistan

David Michod (in black) is the writer/director of
David Michod (in black) is the writer/director of "War Machine," which stars Brad Pitt (left).
Francois Duhamel / Netflix

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What does a war movie look like in the Trump Era? One of the first, in theaters and on Netflix today, is “War Machine” from Australian writer/director David Michod.

The film employs a heavy dose of satire to cast a critical eye on the ongoing war in Afghanistan. Michod’s screenplay is adapted from the book, “The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War in Afghanistan,” by journalist Michael Hastings.

In the film, Brad Pitt takes on the central role of General Glen McMahon, a character based on General Stanley McChrystal. He's the former U.S. Commander in Afghanistan, who was fired by President Obama in 2010, following an unflattering portrait in Rolling Stone written by Hastings.

Michod’s previous films include “Animal Kingdom” and “The Rover.” When he stopped by The Frame studio recently, Michod said he’d been looking to make a film about America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for about a decade before he came across Hastings’ book.

"I had assumed, given my sensibilities, that whatever story I found to tell set in one of these contemporary theaters of war would probably be something about the experience of the battlefield," Michod says. "But I couldn't find the story, partly because the stories I was finding were almost too horrific to be made, but also because I just felt like those movies that I was imagining felt like all the other movies that seem to be made about contemporary war — ones that were almost closed off and isolated to that experience and were not in any way questioning the larger machine."

Hastings' book, Michod says, offered him an opportunity to make a movie that would be "much bigger and would be multi-layered," and that would also be the kind of movie that doesn't get made much these days — a war satire.

"There are very interesting questions to ask about why they don't seem to be made anymore," Michod says. "I think the answers to those questions lie in the not entirely healthy relationship that society has with its military ... it's almost as if there is no position that we, the non-military, can take that isn't anything other than reverential."

To hear the full interview with David Michod, click the blue player above.

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