Thursday, 5 February 2015


The trivialisation of the most urgent, catastrophic social unrest in the world, through a white man's video camera. What a topsy-turvy world that is, for someone to use conflict for self-fulfilling purposes, not even for any identifiable gain but for shallow self-worship. Marshall Curry isolates this feature early in Point and Shoot, and allows it to pervade the rest, infusing it with a queasy sense of unease, as though we're missing the point in pursuing this emblem of narcissism across the Arab world as it eats itself from within. That's comedy so black it poisons your mind as you merely witness it taking shape on the screen. This being a documentary, this angle is not the only one - there are infinite ways of interpreting the story Curry has fashioned here, and few of them quite so satisfactory. Starting with Matthew Vandyke, the film's subject, we have a protagonist not so much pitiable for his OCD and his unrelenting solipsism but for his naivety. Point and Shoot responds with similar naivety, the belief that his story is more worth telling than the millions of authentic tales of triumph and despair from the Arab Spring. His 'quest' is flawed from the outset, something about manhood that morphs into an alarming 'white saviour' shape, primarily for dramatic purposes - Curry doesn't care to comment on this development, as if imagining that Vandyke's story here becomes a contemporary Lawrence of Arabia, with utterly none of Lawrence's style, whether the man or the movie. Vandyke is even granted a story arc, one that concludes with him not killing anyone... even Colonel Gaddafi's capture is depicted from Vandyke's perspective, wondering what the event might have been like were he present. One-dimensional statements on the narcissism of society, a challenging streak of black humour, all enveloped by Point and Shoot's investment in the validity of its main character. His dreary recollection of the Libyan War comes to consume the film, its most enduring image a collage of Vandyke's excruciatingly earnest mug, one which Curry regretfully doesn't bother to skewer.