Currently browsing the "Afghanistan" tag.

Review: The Outpost

The Outpost is a war movie. War movies are hard to watch. They’re especially hard to watch when you can’t tell the characters apart – even with on-screen “lower thirds” peppered throughout to try and alert you to who’s who, and where. But hey- this is war. It’s ugly. And loud. And bloody. And, as with most war movies, it pays tribute to soldiers lost, heroes made, and survivors burdened with the memory of what they’ve been through… in this case, a deadly attack by the Taliban on an “indefensible” Outpost in eastern Afghanistan in 2009. The Outpost is based on the 2012 New York Times best-seller “The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor” by CNN’s Jake Tapper. Everything about this film screams low-budget labor of love. So while I found the acting and dialogue inconsistent at best, I can appreciate what it’s trying to do. And, it’s a story that gains extra resonance in light of recent intelligence reports that Russia has been offering Taliban-linked militants money to kill coalition troops in Afghanistan. If nothing else, this type of film reminds us there is still (for all intents and purposes) a war going on – and American troops are still dying over there – a full decade after the battle depicted in The Outpost.

Review: Midnight Traveler

Stories of refugees and immigrants are all over the news these days. But mostly they’re about numbers and policy while the people are faceless and nameless. What this gritty documentary does is put names and faces on a family who are forced to flee their home and navigate the horrid landscape of the refugee system to find a safe place. Shot entirely on their smart phones, it’s the story of Hassan Fazili, an Afghan filmmaker who was marked for death by the Taliban and escaped with his family, crossing border after border to find a home in Europe. It’s a day by day chronicle of what a family has to endure to satisfy the requirements of various immigration systems. From leaving Afghanistan to finally getting asylum in Germany, they filmed themselves for almost two full years on their 3,500-mile journey.

Review: 12 Strong

It’s Thor! As a soldier! On a horse! That got my attention. And it helped hold my attention while 12 Strong delivered some fairly standard war drama stuff. It’s a middle of the road war movie with a western vibe that draws its strength from the fact that it’s based on a wild declassified true story revealed in the 2009 book, “Horse Soldiers” by Doug Stanton.

AFI DOCS (Days 3 & 4)

So many films, so little time. Running back and forth from DC to Silver Spring, it was impossible to see all the films that were available. Anyone who can, should go next year. I’ll let you know when, and we can see them all then compare notes! Here are my short takes on the films I saw the last two days. Trailers are below.

Lone Survivor

Lone Survivor is difficult to watch. So difficult, in fact, that I covered my eyes for the majority of the second half. It’s a hard-core war movie. It’s intense. Brutal. Bloody. And depressing. So unless you have the stomach for long battle scenes pitting a small band of brothers against a largely unseen enemy in the mountains of Afghanistan, then I suggest you take a pass.

The Black Tulip

I am sure you haven’t seen a lot of films from Afghanistan. It is not exactly the Hollywood of central Asia. But I was intrigued when I heard about The Black Tulip. It is directed and co-written by an Afghan expatriate, Sonia Nassery Cole who bravely shot it in Kabul and also stars as the main character Farishta. The matriarch of the Mansouri family — wife, sister, daughter, mother — Farishta tries her best to lead a normal life after her family returns to Kabul just after the Taliban’s reported demise. She and her husband open a restaurant, an open-mic poetry salon, but it seems the Taliban is not far enough away to let them live in peace.

Restrepo