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American Sniper (2014)
So-so war film.
Much love and bile has been directed at this film. The debate says more about the viewers than it does about Chris Kyle. In this post-Vietnam/Iraq world many desire their war films to be more Platoon or Thin Red Line than The Longest Day. Others want the exact opposite.
This film is more along the lines of the traditional depiction of war with some modern touches. Whilst not as simplistic of a depiction of a soldier protagonist as in John Wayne films American Sniper lacks the moral complexity of films like Full Metal Jacket.It's a passable depiction of war. It certainly is no classic along the lines of Blackhawk Down or Saving Private Ryan.
American Sniper ultimately will be known more for the furor that it caused than it's contents. The debate is between two groups of people passing judgment or giving out praise to a life they don't much understand.Americans more than ever are ignorant of war and what it means at a philosophical level and for the people directly involved in it.
Some say this film is propaganda, but that is not a legitimate argument. Oscar Wilde once said that "Truth is rarely pure and never simple." It's the arrogance of people today that leads them to think they know the truth when all they know is what others have told them. Reading articles or viewing documentaries doesn't mean you know what went on. All it means is that you read or viewed someone else's view of what occurred. The real truth is known only by those who were there.Every other person's opinion stands is wholly dependent on the information given to them(and thus susceptible to manipulation.) It is a fool who thinks that only the government lies and deceives about war.
Movies are points of view. As a result they are all biased. To label American Sniper that went all movies are intrinsically biased is ludicrous. Frankly, those who accuse it of that are simply angry that the movies does not depict their point-of-view about the events at hand.
There is another issue I have to tackle that is with hypocrisy. Much has been made about the depiction of Iraqis in this film. It's been called racist and simplistic. That allegation made me shake my head. This film depicts Iraqis as every non-German World War Two film depicts the Germans in the Second World War: Simplistic one-dimensional characters. I have yet to see Michael Moore or any leftist complain about the unfair depiction of Germans in films.
What it boils down to is that this film isn't anti-war and thus is being torn to pieces by those who are stridently anti-Iraq War. Conversely, those who openly support the war in Iraq love this film because it seemingly confirms what they believed. Ideological bias has impacted how this film has been received and the critiques of it have to be viewed with that understanding.
American Sniper is a middling kind of movie that Eastwood every so often produces. For every Letters from Iwo Jima(brilliant) there is a Flags of Our Fathers(meh). Sniper is decidedly in the latter category.
A dry, tedious, depiction of Hirohito.
As an WWII buff, I was intrigued when I saw this film pop up on my Netflix recommence list. Alas, I ought to have taken the time to beforehand to look up the director. Alesandr Sokurov made the dreadful "Russian Ark". This film, while not nearly as bad as "Ark" or Malick's horrendous "Thin Red Line", suffers from a limp, aimless, script that is augmented by equally limp, wooden acting.
The Americans in this film are a collection of stereotypes posing as characters. Richard Dawson in particular is awful. He appears to suffer from a case of macrocephaly which is seriously distracting. His massive head--quite unlike what MacArthur had-- makes him look like a mad scientist in an army uniform. His acting, the apposite of Tommy Lee Jones portrayal of MacArthur in "Emperor", is lifeless and quite unlike Douglas MacArthur.
Issei does a solid enough job of portraying the Emperor. Who can pretend to accurately a man who is seen as a God and is kept largely out of the public eye? Unlike MacArthur, the actor here had little to go on in a character study.In view of this any actor who attempts to portray such a mysterious man has to be given a benefit of the doubt. That said, this is no equal to Ganz's brilliant portrayal of Hitler. Ganz put on one of the great acting performances of all time--at least the equal of Daniel Day-Lewis' Lincoln.
I have one final critique and this goes for "Emperor" as well. For some reason when people make movies of the Pacific Theater they mention the A-bombs, but never the great many atrocities the Japanese committed in their 8 years of war. The Japanese were, in fact, the first country to employ WMD in WWII when they used bombs filled with bubonic plague on the Chinese. These weapons were developed by a special unit call Unit 731'. This unit committed horrors that matched those of Mengele and the Nazis. Then we have the Bataan Death March, the Rape of Nanking, and the general brutal occupations of Asian countries. The Japanese did far more than bomb Pearl Harbor. Ask the Chinese, who lost some 15 million citizens to Japanese aggression. Aggression that actually stretches back to 1931.(Even though the Sino-Japanese War did not officially begin until July of 1937.) To not mention Japanese barbarism and aggression on such a large scale is to akin to omitting the Holocaust when discussing the Nazis.
Superb telling of a remarkable story.
Before I get to my review I have to make a comment on the user reviews for this film. THis was an American success, not an Obama success.As such no one, save for the Seal Team and the CIA, can lay claim to the success of the mission. All Obama was give the okay. Yes, he deserves credit for taking the political risk, but the apparatus(Special Ops) strengthened under the Bush Administration is the reason this war carried out so effectively. Also, someone needs to tell the person from Bangladesh that he needs to pay more attention to what is going on in the world. The fact is that Moslem extremists are waging wars against the US, Israel, China, Russia, Indian, and Africans. These are not media-invented actions. These are tea-life fanatics perverting a great religion for their own designs.
As for the movie. I thought it was taunt, bare knuckled thriller that was largely absent of the jingoistic we often see in such movies. 9-11 is referenced because it was the reason this mission was being undertaken. The actors, lead by William Fichtner, do an admirable job of portraying the professionals employed to eliminate OBL. While none are Oscar-worthy, they all do a solid job of expressing the emotions and strain those in the CIA and military had to be feeling during this operation. The film itself is well-made. The battle scenes are every bit the quality of what we see in 'Hurt Locker", the scenes in Pakistan have the look of Abottabad realism is a 10 in this movie.
One flaw of this move is that it overstates the impact of this operation to Obama's presidency. Obama's presidency would not have gone down in flames if this operation had failed. Clinton survived Mogadishu, JFK had the Bay of Pigs blow up in his face but he did not suffer long term damage from it and a failing economy more than the failed Operation Eagle Claw killed Carter's presidency. Obama could easily have survived politically if this mission failing.
Those who hate this movie hate it because they are either anti-American or anti-Obama because cinematically-speaking this is a very good film.
Amusing film, but atrocious historical scholarship.
This film is both funny and jarring in its use of actual and fake racist products. But the basic premise of the film is terribly flawed.
As others have pointed out, the South did not desire to possess the North, only to become a separate nation. But more important than this is the fact that the South lacked the capability to conquer the North. The South had a nation of 9 million(half of whom were slaves) and the North had 22 million. The North had most of the industry which in turn permitted them to arm their larger forces with an ease the South could only dream of. The South's navy consisted mainly of a few ironclads and blockade runners. In sum, the North had more people, more arms, and more ships by a large margin. This is akin to saying that the US could have conquered and occupied England in the aftermath of the Revolution. The entire premise of the film is rendered ridiculous by historical facts. Satire always has a bit of the absurd element to it, but in order to be effective it must exhibit a grasp of the basic facts. This film does not exhibit such knowledge.
Secondly, the Allies in WWII would not have defeated Nazi Germany. England would have fallen as France, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, et all. If Russia would have won Europe would have been enslaved by that Communist Leviathan. Both continents would have in the embrace of despotic governments.
This film is amusing on its face, but a closer examination of the historiography indicates that the producers of this film have a poor grasp of the American Civil War. This is an intellectually light, comedy heavy film. Treat it as nothing but comedy.
Protektor is visually superb, but story is a bit weak.
As someone who has an interest in the Nazi period of European history the movie Protektor naturally attracted my interest. I especially enjoy watching foreign films of the period to see how those(and their descendants) who actually suffered under Nazi rule have dealt with the legacy of the period.
This film is unlike most films I have seen of the period in that both of the main characters are flawed--deeply flawed in fact. Emil, the husband, is an philanderer, who collaborates with the Nazis.He says that he is doing so to protect his wife, Hana, but we suspect that professional gain plays not a bit part in his motivation to broadcast the Nazis' propaganda.
Hana, meanwhile, cannot refrain from engaging in provocative behavior that put both her and Emil at risk for imprisonment in a concentration camp. Hana's obliviousness to the danger of her behavior is the weakest element of this film. From having her pictures take outside and inside of places where Jews are restricted to even harboring a fellow Jew, Hana insists on brazenly flouting the Nazi's regulations. One can sympathize with her to an certain extent, but it does make one wonder about her mental state. Surely no one who has Jewish would be so foolhardy to risk antagonizing the Nazis--especially so after the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich. The Nazi response to Heydrich's killing was extremely brutal. The town of Lidice was leveled and all the males over the age of 16.(males 16 and over were also massacred in the town of Lezaky as well as all of their females)At least 1300 people were murdered in the aftermath of the brutal response to Heydrich's killing. In view of this, Hana's actions indicate an almost pathological desire to be arrested and deported.
In having said all that, I do appreciate the efforts of the filmmakers to display the complexity of behind the decisions people made to collaborate with the Nazis. The Nazis gave people only two choices: submit or you or someone you love, will be subject to arrest, torture, and death. This of course does not excuse their actions nor is it a blanket explanation for all who collaborated. Many did so for financial and/ideological reasons. But it does offer a different view from the normal depictions of collaborators we see in film.
My number one complaint with the film is that it never explores why Hana is behaving in the manner that she is behaving. While we all can appreciate the resentment at being excluded from society, Hana was not the only Jew to have suffer from oppression in Prague. Why was her reaction so different from the rest of Prague's Jews? Her actions throughout the film are never explained and for a person like me who is familiar with the Nazis and the Holocaust, her brazen behavior strikes me as unbelievable.
Taxi to the Dark Side (2007)
Torture worse then killing?
There is much sanctimony being expressed in the reviews of this wonderful example of propaganda.
This film expresses the false humanity of many today in the US and around the world. These people are outraged over torture, yet ignore the fact that war involves something far worse-- killing. War is death and destruction. Why people are so up in arms over torture when people are being torn to shreds by bombs, IEDS, and bullets is beyond my powers of comprehension. Only the false humanists know why they they think in such a logically flawed manner.
The most criminal aspect of this film is at of the director and the speakers.They are criminals who are willing to sacrifice your family for their ideals. That is sickening.
To be sure the death of the taxi cab driver was shameful and people should be held accountable. But when it comes to self- defense everything and anything should be considered. Anyone who knows American history knows that is our way. From the asymmetrical warfare waged by the Swamp Fox to Sherman's March to the Sea to Hiroshima, the American people have exhibited a willingness to wage merciless warfare in order to achieve our end. That is one of our values. If you don't like that then you can kick rocks. I'll never blame Bush for doing all he could to protect Americans. Is some of it nasty? Yeah, but as previously noted, war is a dirty business no matter who you are. Name a war and you will find it find with a great number of mind numbing brutality.
This works as a piece of simpleminded moralistic propaganda. But as a serious piece of analysis it fails. The abject failure of the director and those who think like them to grasp the essence of war ultimately makes this and other films like it, fodder for bonfires.
Too Big to Fail (2011)
Good review of the financial mess
This story is subject to partisan prejudices as evidenced by another reviewer's assertion that the highly biased "Inside Job" is the "truth".
To HBO's credit they resisted the temptation to use this sordid affair as a platform for opinion like Charles Ferguson did in "Inside Job". Instead they took a bare bones approach to the story. They give the viewer a summation of the events leading up to the government bailouts.This also hurts the story as character development is fairly shallow and the plot itself requires foreknowledge of the economic environment surrounding these events.
Considering that these events occurred so recently any expectation that you will receive the complete story is unrealistic. Any person who thinks that the truth will be so quickly revealed is kidding themselves. There are facts that are still unknown that in time will be revealed. However, this movie does a good job of presenting the facts we do know in lay terms with resorting to the histrionics of propaganda films like "Inside Job".
The actors do a solid job of portraying the individuals involved. There is no unnecessary depictions of personal foibles that do not in some way relate to the story. The acting is sober and fair,which is appropriate for this film's aim of presenting a factual narrative of the controversial events.
Overall, I believe this movie to be a solid, objective, presentation of the financial mess of 2008. That some ideologues on IMDb object to that should not deter you. This movie is a good intro to what is a complex subject that requires far more then reading articles on the Internet to truly understand.
L'armée du crime (2009)
They rather die on their feet then live on their knees
The men and women who resisted the Germans in WWII were the living embodiment of Emiliano Zapata's famous words. Some used peaceful means(The White Rose Society), other violence.(Maquis) This movie details the story of those who embraced violence in order to resist the Nazis.
What I particularly liked about this movie was its portrayal of the collaboration necessary to crush such movements. The french police was tacitly involved in the suppression of France's resistance movements. Along with the infamous Milice, the french police provided the Gestapo a means to violently smash those who dared fight back. "Army of Crime" does a nice job of showing the underhanded the methods the french police would use to betray their countrymen.
People who feel uneasy about the brutal means used by such movements should do two things: A) Understand that war is brutal in every aspect. A soldier's life is no less valuable then a civilians. B)Realize that the only way to effectively deal with the Nazis' was to meet them with the same level of ferocity and ruthlessness that they dealt out to others. Ethics mean nothing if one is not able to live them. Under normal circumstances those in the resistance would not have done what they did, but then these were not normal circumstances.
I laud these heroes for dying fighting merciless brutes. It is not glorious to die for one's country, but it is honorable to die to protect what you cherish most.