And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

Currently browsing the "War Movie" 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.

War Dogs

War Dogs joins the ranks of ‘good but ultimately forgettable’ movies of the summer. Based on a true story, the film stars Jonah Hill and Miles Teller as Ephraim Divoroli and David Packouz, a pair of twenty-something Miami dudes who exploited a little-known government initiative that allows small businesses to bid on federal contracts. The initiative was meant to restore some balance to the fundamentally flawed defense-contractor universe after the Cheney-Halliburton debacle, but instead it opened the door for chumps like Packouz and Divoroli to exploit the system and rake in millions of your tax dollars during the Iraq War.

American Sniper

War is hell. So is this intensely polarizing movie. You either love American Sniper or hate it. I was one of the latter. Adapted from a biography of the same name, it is the story of U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) who became a hero to many for being our most lethal sniper and killing the most Iraqis. My problem with the film is how the whole situation is portrayed as entirely black and white. Kyle and the Americans are the good guys, and every single Iraqi is evil. I am sure to the men and women who fought there, that was the perfect rationalization for what they did, but as storytelling goes, it leaves a lot to be desired.

War Witch (Rebelle)

I really wish that films nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar were available before the awards were given out, so that just once I could fill out a ballot having seen them all. Only Amour got a big release and a bunch of hoopla! (And the Oscar, not so coincidentally.) Kon-Tiki opens in April. No and A Royal Affair have been around but only in limited release. And I was only able to see War Witch this week via a screener. I realize that if I lived in LA or New York, I could see more films earlier in their “limited releases,” and that they need that Oscar buzz for audiences around the country to venture out, but it makes me wonder how many wonderful small films from foreign lands we in the hinterlands never have a chance to see.

Incendies

Incendies is a French Canadian drama that was nominated for the 2011 Academy Award for Best Foreign language film and is totally deserving of the honor. Living in small town USA can be frustrating for the lag time in getting to see these films in a theater, but finally, it arrived. (Only 2 left now.)

The Green Zone

The Green Zone is a nice taut political thriller set in Baghdad starring Matt Damon and it feels a lot like Jason Bourne went and joined the army (which isn’t all that surprising since it was directed by Paul Greengrass who also directed the last two Bourne films). Damon plays Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller whose assignment is to find those Weapons of Mass Destruction that we went to war about. It is very early in the war in Iraq, and Miller’s team has so far been sent on a series wild goose chases to find WMDs in various and sundry places without any success. He is beginning to question the intelligence that the army has been given and when he starts digging for the truth, he puts himself in a dangerous position.

Brothers

Brothers is another film that I went to having one expectation from the previews and came away with a different story altogether. Directed by Jim Sheridan (In America) and starring Toby Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman, it is a remake of the Danish movie Brødre which was written and directed by Susanne Bier (After the Wedding).

Inglourious Basterds

Where to start with this one? Quentin Tarantino has basically taken every spaghetti western cliché he can think of mixed it into a Nazi war movie and patched it together with a movie soundtrack that takes you back to all those big epic movies. Too bad he forgot to make any characters you actually care about. If he was paying homage or just being derivative of spaghetti westerns or war epics, he must have missed the part where they (the inglorourious basterds of the title) are the good guys, where they have a code that puts them above the bad guys (Nazis) and where the characters, though flawed, have distinct personalities.