Four characters seeking personal gain are nearly sidetracked by altruistic impulses in this emotionally and politically responsible movie set in Iraq during the immediate aftermath of the gulf war–a damning yet idealistic satire about the motives behind U.S. foreign policy. The visuals are wild, the sound track has the audacity to underscore the subtext instead of just echoing the obvious, the comedy is irreverent and occasionally slapstick, and the metaphorical details are consistently strong (one image shows the gentle collapse of some folding chairs after an explosion). The movie even examines the conventions of star-studded actioners without stripping the leads of the charisma and apparent immortality of full-blown action heroes. Writer-director David O. Russell (Spanking the Monkey, Flirting With Disaster) has achieved it all: he’s made a movie that’s about filmmaking–and things that really matter. With George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube, Spike Jonze, Said Taghmaoui, and Nora Dunn. Burnham Plaza, Chatham 14, Ford City, Golf Mill, Hyde Park, Lawndale, Lincoln Village, McClurg Court, Norridge, North Riverside, Old Orchard, 62nd & Western, Village North, Webster Place. –Lisa Alspector