UK/France/Belgium/Italy/Spain, 2010; Kenneth Loach
Having addressed much of the politically charged warfare of the 20th century in such films as Land and Freedom, Hidden Agenda, and the superb The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Ken Loach now probes the involvement of mercenaries in the war in Iraq. Not that the film is set there, save for a flashback that doesn't show up till halfway through. Our POV character is a case-hardened Liverpudlian named Fergus (Mark Womack) who turns up for the funeral of the best friend so racked up while working for a Blackwater-like outfit that his coffin must remain closed. Fergus breaks into it anyway, and proceeds further to delve into just how his mate came to die that day on Route Irish, as they call the perilous stretch of road between Baghdad Airport and the Green Zone. Someone in the local film press snarked about Route Irish that it's hard to have a thriller without suspense. The comment is ill-informed on both ends: Route Irish doesn't try to be a thriller, and the suspense it has aplenty derives from Fergus's descent into not only the mystery behind his friend's death but also his own character and moral culpability. Incidentally, the film marks Loach's reunion with Chris Menges, who shot such early Loach features as Kes and Poor Cow and became one of the several finest cinematographers in the world over the intervening four decades. —RTJ

Wednesday, June 1, 4 p.m. at the Egyptian; Friday, June 3, 7 p.m. at the Admiral; Sunday, June 5, 11 a.m. at the Neptune