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Opening: The Gatekeepers 

This brittle documentary about top-secret Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet features extensive interviews with its six surviving former heads. At best, the film inspires some worthwhile (if commonplace) reflections on morality and ethics within intelligence communities; at worst, it’s a heady, basically shallow depiction of the Israel-Palestine conflict. It’s reassuring indeed to know that Americans aren’t the only people afflicted with moral qualms about their foreign involvement, but most viewers will probably expect more at the outset. The Gatekeepers sets itself up as an expose of a shadowy governmental body. In fact, it’s six older guys fretting. There are no real ‘revealed secrets’ or major confessions, a la Frost/Nixon, to justify the early rhetoric. Visually, the film is quite sterile, almost news programmesque. There are some cool digital sequences which use old photos to recreate larger scenes, but the vast majority of the 101-minute running time is close-up interview content. The film’s political context may also be a minor stumbling block. Knowing the fundamental geopolitical dynamics involved -- the West Bank of what, for instance -- and having an interest in the chronological and emotional minutiae are almost prerequisites for a thorough enjoyment of the film. There’s some very strong interviewing technique on display, but all in all, The Gatekeepers is probably too one-note and “philosophical” to achieve much mass appeal. Cedar Lee Theatre.

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