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(T)ERROR – (meh)rror

Khalifah al Aliki

(T)ERROR would be a great thriller, and likely will be, were it not a documentary with such potentially high stakes.

I saw it at this year’s True/False festival and left with an uneasy feeling. Not a feeling of terror, but the kind of feeling you get after hearing Ben Carson talk.

Directors Lyric R. Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe happen upon a disgruntled FBI informant who is more than willing to share classified information and invite them in to see his work -for a price.

The problem is that the filmmakers are too dazzled by their subject and what hitching their stars (sic) to his (double sic) could mean for them, that they don’t realize they have become his marks.

Perhaps I am mistaken in believing it’s a common occurrence to run into a colorful character who just happens to have worked for the CIA and then oh so reluctantly acquieses to become a raconteur, sharing classified information with you! for the price of a drink or two. I remember Mr. Julien (his nom de spy?) from Café Maurice in Los Angeles.

Saeed “Shariff” Torres (né Theodore Charles Shelby) gains credibility with these first-time directors due to his history with the Black Panthers -a group safely enconsed in history to be romanticized and his ability to talk circles around them. It’s funny how the subject of terrorism can obscure common sense, assuming one has it in the first place.

The filmmakers think they are telling a story about the U.S. government’s program of using informants to combat domestic terrorism. Somewhere in the movie, a TV-style report could be cobbled together, and like those network news reports, after watching it you will have learned nothing.

It’s an entertaining film, if you aren’t vulnerable to conspiracy theories.


U.S., 2015, 93 min.

Saturday, November 7th, 2015 at noon at the Tivoli.



This site was borne of my passion for movies, particularly French films. I have spent time in France and am fluent in the language, hence the “le”. The “snob” part, while of French origin, is not meant to intimidate, but rather an effort to reclaim the word from the pretentious, just as the gay community has done with the word “queer.” We’re all snobs; we all like what we like.

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