HBO and Showtime justify their subscription rates this month with two
superb documentaries. HBO is giving prime time to For Neda, a biography of Neda Agah Soltan who was gunned down in a Tehran street durig a democracy demonstration. Meanwhile Showtime is featuring one of the all time great war documentaries, Brothers at War, in which a young filmmaker, Jake Rademacher, decides to take his camera to Iraq and find out what it’s like for his little brothers, Isaac and Joe, to be at war.
As different as these two films might seem at first glance, they share one common theme. Each film, at its core, is largely about family members who admire, but don’t quite understand their loved ones’ willingness to put their lives on the line for the cause of freedom.
Brothers at War is understandably the more conventionally entertaining film, with a lot of rough and ready brother-style humor along with harrowing combat, while For Neda is a tribute to a fallen hero by those who knew her best. Both, however, are compelling and revetting– and essential– viewing.