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Tower

Director:  Keith Maitland
Year Released:  2016
Rating:  3.0

Clever recreation of the events of August 1, 1966 at the University of Texas at Austin, when former Marine (naturally) Charles Whitman ascended the school's tower and just started mowing people down with a rifle, done with a combination of stock footage, animation (rotoscoping!) and current interviews with real people involved in the deadly attack. Even though the attack took place fifty years ago, it's astounding how sharp and clear the memories of the participants still are, and Maitland handles the material with delicacy, balancing flashy aesthetics with empathy (the mixture of the 'real' and 'recreation' also gives it an otherworldly quality). My sole gripe is with the treatment of Whitman himself - not only is he not shown, his name isn't mentioned and his background isn't fully explored (he also murdered his wife and mother): if you're going to try to make a broader statement about gun violence in America, it would be advisable to touch on the 'other side' (Whitman's autopsy revealed he had a brain tumor ... but does that explain it all away?).

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