Currently browsing the "War" tag.

Review: Quo Vadis, Aida?

Talk about a film that’s hard to watch! This Oscar nominee from Bosnia and Herzegovina tells the horrifying story of the days leading up to the 1995 massacre of 8,000+ Bosnian Muslim men and boys from the town of Srebrenica. The central character is Aida (Jasna Duricic), a school teacher from the town and also a translator for the UN peacekeeping forces there during the wars that tore apart the former Yugoslavia. When the Bosnian Serbian army rolls into town, despite the fact that the United Nations had declared it a UN safe area two years earlier, the Muslim citizens flee to the nearby UN camp looking for shelter and safety. Aida’s husband and sons are among those fleeing. But as she can see from inside, the UN troops are left high and dry by the UN command in New York, and they’re outgunned by Serbian Gen. Ratko Mladic (Boris Isakovic) and his army. And as the time ticks by Aida does everything she can to save her family, though if you know the history, you know it cannot end well.

Review: Beanpole (Дылда)

War is hell. And life after war is, too. Most war films concentrate on the effects that the carnage has on men, but this Russian melodrama looks at how the women are scarred, too. Set in Leningrad just after World War II has ended, when the Siege may be over, but the people are still dealing with the hunger and deprivation, Beanpole is a character study of two young women, friends from the battlefield, both trying to make sense of their lives after the war.  Iya affectionately known as Beanpole (Viktoria Miroshnichenko) works in a hospital tending the wounded. She has a cute little boy at home that she dotes on. But she is afflicted with a condition caused by an explosion that makes her “freeze” from time to time – staring into space and making tiny clicking sounds until she comes back to life. And it causes her to make a tragic mistake. But then her wartime buddy Masha (Vasilisa Perelygina) arrives back from the front, and though it begins as a warm reunion, their relationship takes some very dark turns.

Review: Jojo Rabbit

Just when you thought there couldn’t possibly be a new way to tell a World War II / Nazi story on film, along comes Jojo Rabbit, to serve as both a reminder of a twisted chapter in our not-so-distant past, and a contemporary cautionary tale. In some ways, there’s more to unpack here than in the controversial Joker, though I suspect way fewer people will see it or ‘get it’. Yes, Jojo Rabbit is a strange flick. But it’s also quite thought-provoking and weirdly entertaining, thanks to the direction of Taika Waititi (who pulls triple duty as screenwriter and actor) and a first-rate cast.

Review: For Sama

For Sama is a thoroughly engrossing and heart-wrenching documentary made by the mother of a baby born in Aleppo, Syria during the rebel uprising and daily bombings. Sama’s mother Waad al-Kateab frames the film as a letter to her daughter about the time and place in which she was born. An avid citizen journalist, al-Kateab was already documenting her world in 2011 while she was a student at Aleppo University when protests began against the corrupt regime of Bashar al-Assad. Her camera caught the beginnings of the student led uprising and the early optimism. And then all hell broke loose and she was right there in the middle of it, with her camera and a conviction that what was happening needed to be shown to the world. And it is harrowing, unlike any war correspondent’s version of life during wartime. During the five years of filming, she lived through nearly daily bombings and massacres, as well as marriage and the birth of her first child. It’s her own personal story, but also the story of the destruction of Aleppo at the hands of the Syrian regime with the aid of the Russians and the determination of the inhabitants to keep going. It’s a must see film.

Quickie Review: Girls of the Sun

In our #Girlpower era, a film about battalion of Kurdish women fighting ISIS in North Kurdistan should be a slam dunk. But somewhere between idea and execution Girls of the Sun got a bit lost. Part of that may be that it is framed as being about a French war correspondent who embeds herself with this group of women and her story is a distraction. I was never sure why I should care about her. After all, the women she’s with have lived through absolute hell. The more interesting story is that of the female commander Bahar (Golshifteh Farahani) who lost her husband and son to ISIS and has a reason to be fighting the fight.

Review: Journey’s End

War is hell. Especially in this World War One drama, where almost the entire film is set in the trenches just yards away from the enemy Germans. It takes place over just four days and is adapted from a well-known play by WWI veteran R.C. Sherriff. What is different in this war movie though is that it isn’t about the derring-do, but is a portrayal of the time between the battles — the anticipation, the camaraderie and the boredom. Only a few of the officers know from very early in the story that they are vastly outnumbered and that there will be no reinforcements. They’re to be sacrificed to slow down the Germans. But stiff upper lip and all that rot, so they soldier on for the cause. And for their leader Captain Stanhope (Sam Claflin, Hunger Games), it’s tearing him apart.

Review: Thank You for Your Service

If you’re feeling inspired to see a movie similar to American Sniper as Veterans Day approaches, then Thank You for Your Service definitely fits the bill. It represents a worthy and well-acted attempt to highlight the struggles that many veterans face when returning from the battlefield and integrating back into family and civilian life –while dealing with PTSD. It’s a relatively quiet film about the horrors of wars, except for a few intense and bloody flashbacks that are used to frame the mindset of a couple of U.S. soldiers returning to their Midwest homes after a brutal tour in Iraq in 2007. Thank You for Your Service is based on the nonfiction book of the same name by David Finkel. His recent article in the Washington Post spurred my interest in seeing the movie, as did the fact that it stars Miles Teller (Only the Brave, Whiplash).

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.

Restrepo

Dear John

Dear John seemed to come out of nowhere Super Bowl weekend to rake in more than $30 million and overtake Avatar atop the Box Office charts. But those aliens of Pandora needn’t worry too much. Movie-goers will write off Dear John way before it gets anywhere near Avatar’s record-breaking totals. Not that it’s a bad movie. It just doesn’t resonate beyond the theater walls. And I didn’t cry once!