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Hell and Back Again (2011)
Not really what other reviewers say but still a decent documentary
OK, the reviews on this say that this is some kind of a revolutionary documentary, is pro/anti war neutral, and several others things. But that really isn't the case.
First I will not say it is horrible. It is actually pretty good. My problem is more about what people say about it. The only real thing I see that is different is that expensive cameras were used. That is about it. Watching it you get the feel though, that this is not real and it is a recreation of what happened. That is due to the cameras, but also the dialog going on in the war scenes. Being a veteran, I can say that the dialog going on between soldiers feels a lot more forced. As if, in the fog of a fire fight the cameraman is prompting these guys to talk and it is not just filming things as they happened. I am not sure if that i what was going on, just that through experience, it is pretty suspect that that is what is going on. I don't think that is some kind of dirty trick or anything. It just is what it is.
I also take issue with those that say this is a war neutral film. If you look at the score on this site about this movie it rates high which in today's day and age doesn't happen unless it skews to a "evil empire of the U.S.A." movie. The story of Harris at home also shows mostly the effects of PTSD, and has a bit of feel of a film that says,"Look at the horrible gun culture of the U.S." I think that feeling is veiled in a way that some may be able to say is neutral.
Nobody likes war. Especially those that fight it. The problem is there are people all over the world that think there is never a reason to ever go to war and want us to completely stay away from war. It is a noble thought and gesture, but it has no basis in reality. Neville Chamberlain tried that in the 1930's and it didn't turn out well. The reason that peace at all costs doesn't work because there are other people out there that don't think that way. I think the most recent example is our idiot President Obama facing Mitt Romney in a debate before the 2012 election. Mitt Romney said that Russia was a geo-political enemy of the U.S. Obama's snarky comment was that the 80's are calling and want their president back. There was laughter and the folks at Obama's propaganda network (MSNBC) laughed and made fun of the thought that Russia was in anyway an enemy. Well, they weren't laughing when Russia annexed the Crimea.... Obama forgot that Putin does not think in the "leave everything and one alone fallacy...
PTSD is a tough thing. This movie touches on it, but a lot of what I saw was just a guy who was having trouble coming home from being a big, strong, tough, Member of the military and trying to adjust to being wounded, and to a degree helpless. I think that has more to do with the depression and everything else. That is a huge thing even without PTSD. PTSD has been around since the beginning of human existence, not something just discovered and the hard part about it is that it effects everyone differently and there are no real way to predict how it will effect anyone. Some have an extremely difficult time with it some do not.
All in all, it is not a horrible film, but I really don't think it was a huge, awesome film that should be dressed in a bunch of awards. Many are comparing it to "Restrepo" but if I were to compare the two I would say that "Restrepo" is a far better documentary than this one.Part of that is this movie has no real story, and it is much more disjointed than the other one. Still decent though.
The Weight of Chains (2010)
Interesting...to listen to someone toss blame
As much as people like to hate the U.S. these day I guess someone could blame us for anything. Look, average people in the former Yugoslavia on all sides are mostly good people and everyone has a point of view. Now for the sad part.
Tito held on to power in communist Yugoslavia for quite some time. Although he reigned in a communist nation he still managed to maintain Yugoslavia's sovereignty from the USSR. He did so by skillfully playing both sides. He aided the Soviet Union in the invasion of Hungary, but then admonished the Soviets in Czechoslovakia. Yes, Yugoslavia was held together under Tito for a long time. Was Yugoslavia prosperous? Yes.
Now let's get to some disagreements. Was Yugoslavia a threat because they were a prosperous communist country ? NO. For one, the U.S., although unsuccessful was actually pretty interested in Yugoslavia BECAUSE they were communists. After WWII the eastern Europeans may not have been happy with the Soviet brand of Communism, but they were pretty happy to have been liberated from the Nazi's. Unless you were polish, then the Nazi's and Communists were not much different. Yugoslavia represented a Communist country that was independent of the USSR, an alternative. The U.S. during Tito's era wanted to use Yugoslavia as sort of a propaganda tool. In fact, much of the reason that Yugoslavia was able to prosper at the time was because the U.S. supplied a lot of aid to keep him from the Soviets, and although he wasn't part of the Soviet's (in fact Stalin wanted him dead) empire, he wasn't completely cutting off communications with them either, so he could reap benefits from them as well. Yugoslavia was kind of a spy center/DMZ type place in Europe which was important during the Cold War.
The U.S. wasn't completely cozy with Tito as he sided with Arabs over the Arab-Israeli conflict, but that just adds to the reason the U.S. wasn't responsible for the war. The U.S. wouldn't prod Yugoslavia into a war and side with Muslims, especially when that is the start to the Al Quaeda age, we just pulled out of Somalia, and the first Gulf war had just ended.
What really happened is the Dictator Tito ( He was a man of his age in history, and not exactly a good guy or bad guy) died. That is when fractures started to occur and a recession hit. Anytime a man with Tito's power dies, there is going to be a power vacuum (see Iraq and Egypt for proof). Tito held the country together with an iron fist, he had to. His death in 1980 was bad timing. The USSR had invaded Afghanistan which became their Vietnam. The U.S. was pouring money into Afghanistan and the death of Tito left them in doubt of who may come out of their, a nationalist/communist like Tito, a Soviet friendly communist, a Muslim nation, or a democracy? So the U.S. was pumping up the economy. The unrest and uncertainty doesn't make for sound investments. Finally we now know the USSR was on it's final legs financially and at the end of the decade they had to call the Cold War quits.
You can throw some of the blame on the U.S. for sure. We did throw some support here and there, but you will find that any country in the world will consider their own interests. You also have to remember that at the time the broken up USSR was selling everything and there was a lot of concerns about nukes floating around which had not only the U.S. and Western Europe afraid, but the Russians as well. The end of the Cold War brought about an economic depression as well because before the end the Cold War had been churning the global economy with a sort of "keeping up with the Jones's" game. The US had a purpose in defeating the Russians and when that stopped a lot of safe guards, aid, contracts etc. came to a halt.
I will agree with the movie about Western Europe. Much of Western Europe now thinks they are a bastion of freedom, equality, etc, etc. The problem is they could really care less about anyone or anything. The U.S. got involved BECAUSE other European countries were willing to ignore a genocide in their back yard. President Clinton (who finally sent troops) lists not sending troops sooner as his biggest failure as a President. He wanted very much to let the Europeans take care of their own backyard for once, and they dropped the ball. Today Europe still does nothing for the rest of the world unless you mention Climate Change, because that benefits them economically.
I think everyone had a bit of a hand in this, but as always, everyone feels better if they can blame the U.S. for everything.
Devil's Knot (2013)
Paradise Lost series makes this a little flat
"The Devil's Knot" is the true story of the Robin Hood Hills murder. The movie itself kind of falls flat for me compared to the documentary series that followed the story all the way through.
Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth are strong actors, but this story is well documented from start to finish and it was only a matter of time before a movie was made, especially because people in Hollywood got involved in this one early.
I don't think there was really anything wrong with the movie itself. It is a compelling story and needs to be told. It is just that the "Paradise Lost," series that followed the real players in the story was full of twists and turns that Hollywood's top writers couldn't make this stuff up.
I watched the first documentary when it came out and I was a kid (I was a Metallica fan and their music was used). A couple of years ago I watched the 2 follow ons. If you haven't watched those I say watch this one first. I say that because the series were absolutely captivating when you get into it, and if you watch this first I think you will feel that this falls flat to the real deal. I say the documentaries are captivating, I know that sounds bad given the real crime involved, but it was kind of unbelievable. Then again it is good to illustrate these to a new generation that don't know much about this story. So maybe I am too old to appreciate this movie.
The child's voice narration in this movie just really should have been something they cut in this movie. I understand why it was inserted, but it really wasn't handled very well. It was out of place. If it was done to unnerve people and highlight something, it did, but not exactly in the way that it was meant to do. It's something that has to be done perfectly otherwise cut it, In my opinion, it should have been cut out.
WARNING: Do not read beyond this point if you don't know the story, because this may be a spoiler.
I am still a proponent of the death penalty after the details of what happened here. The system is broken in many ways but it is the best we have. I think some of the appeals process needs to be fixed, and a lot of convicts that were convicted before a lot of the DNA and forensic science that we have now today should be allotted more consideration/appeal hearings in order to be sure of their guilt or innocence as well.
The big part of the system that failed here in my eyes is that the Appeals process just continued to go back to the same Judge. I have all the respect in the world for the occupation Judges serve in and the incredible pressures put on them and the difficult job they do. BUT sometimes when you have that kind of power it is easy to remember you are a human being and can and do make mistakes. If the same Judge gets to handle an appeal he is essentially being asked to admit the prosecutor, jury, or he, himself made a mistake. That's a tall order.
It's a turd.
This "documentary" is a turd. Plain and simple. Much like the Kennedy assassination people will believe whatever it is they want to believe. Case in point. Our Government can't even build a functioning website with an army of people and $600 million dollars to do it with. In an age of all out social media, the internet, and 24 hour news cycles this garbage just proves that the human race, especially people who believe this "inside Job" crap, are getting dumber by the day.
Let's look at another conspiracy and how dumb people are. When crop circles first started popping up in England everyone thought they were made by UFO's. Idiots everywhere came out in their tin foil hats marveling at how no human could have done something like this over night with out anyone seeing or hearing anything. Whole crazy people industries started popping up around this. Suddenly, 2 old British dudes came out and said they had been the ones making them. They showed how they did it, and how they did it so fast, and their demonstrations came out as perfect replicas of the "UFO" ones. Not being able to do something that big and that fast turned out to be entirely possible and only needed 2 old pranksters, 2 wooden planks, and two pieces of rope. Still their are idiots running around refusing to believe that, still say it is ufo's and using all sorts of technology to claim radiation is being emitted from them and every thing else. Grow up and put on your big girl panties believers, truthers, or what ever you call yourselves. At least the Kennedy conspiracy was a small bit believable since most theories talked about a few guys on the grassy knoll. For 9/11 to be an inside job would have taken hundreds of people to be perfectly organized which if you have ever human beings at work, you know that is just impossible.
All Is Lost (2013)
Boring pile of ....
If you like this movie you are probably in your mid 80's, female, and have had a crush on Robert Redford for the last 80 years. This movie should have been named, "An old man at sea making old man faces." Seriously...This is horribly boring. Redford is the only actor in it and it consist of endlessly boring scenes. Most of the time he is just making some kind of bewildered face while staring at objects like as if he has never seen them before. You never even get a hint of why he is out there, but my guess is his family drugged him and put him out to sea because they were tired of paying the bill at his golf course retirement home.
Redford looked like a retired mime in this one, and not a very good one. If you watch this movie all the way through and enjoyed it then you must have developed Alzheimer's and forgot about an hour and a half of the hour and 40 minutes.
One thing that was good though! Someone finally paid the left wing loon(Robert Redford)to shut up! Anybody that watches this and finds it "dazzling"(like it says on the movies cover) must have been dazzled by Redford's recent turn to obscure movies that show how much of a has been he has become. Heck, Olympic curling is more entertaining than this movie. What's he going to do next, make a movie about an old man crashing a golf cart? Hey Grandpa next time just tie the anchor to your ankles and jump in the water so the rest of us can avoid the boring movie.
The least they could have done was provide a little dialog by way of his thoughts or something...then again by the faces and odd pantomime performance I don't really think there was anything going on in his head.
I give it 2 stars just because Robert Redford was a decent actor about 40-50 years ago. Don't watch it, don't rent it. If you get it as a gift, re-gift it to somebody you hate!
A great movie but there are flaws
Important note:I didn't read the books!
I gave the first movie a 9 out of 10 and definitely looked forward to this one. All in all I am very satisfied and liked this movie but there are a few flaws that made rate this one 1 spot lower. I'll try to explain without giving a spoiler, but my small issues will probably only be understood after watching. I do recommend watching.
The acting was solid,the story solid, and it was entertaining. What I subtracted points for is that there is a practical issue when it comes to being able to include/represent all districts. Hopefully this isn't a spoiler, but there is only 1 winner in each evolution of the Hunger Games with the exception being Peta and Catness. 1 winner, not one female and one male winner. Since that last movie stated that "some" Districts have volunteers every year and are a virtual shoe in to win. It makes it puzzling to even have a queue.
My second demotion was that I think that the main event was some what mailed in compared to the first film just utilized to bring the movie to the most important part, the end.
Those aren't huge issues and most people won't catch it or even care.
This was a pretty good movie, so watch it!
Squeezing every ounce of juice from the lemon
"Riddick" is the third installment of a series of Sci-fi action movies staring Vin Diesel. The First film "Pitch Black," was actually a good film, the second, "The Chronicles of Riddick," had a great cast and even though it got a bit muddy it wasn't bad. This one....It is just squeezing every last drop they could out of the first 2 movie's money train.
This one is horrible. The actors enlisted are well below the ones in the first 2 but, I think they were decent actors who got handed horrible directing and a crappy script. The special effects were there, as expected, but if your over the age of 15...the dialog and script are just plain garbage. Vin Diesel usually, and especially in this series, gets a lot of little, entertaining one-liners, here they are just plain stupid, adolescent, and really just show this movie is less about entertainment and more about ripping people off by making people buy a ticket/rent a sub par, peace of crap product.
I give this one a 2. It only has 2 redeeming qualities, there is violence, and Vin Diesel is in it. That's it. Anyone who wrote a glowing review...probably thought "Show Girls," was the greatest love story ever made. After the first 2 in the trilogy, this one feels like a cheap Chinese rip off of an already bad DVD. My advice, rent Prometheus instead!
Dirty Wars (2013)
High on ideology, sparse on facts
The writers directors and the investigative "journalist" that made this ideologically driven "documentary," put on a uninformed show.
First they present JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command)as some sort of organization that is some how a myth that turned out to be true. This is pretty interesting because they present the reporter as someone who has covered the military. They point out that JSOC was formed after the debacle of the botched rescue mission in Iran in the 1980's. That is true but they didn't tell you why it was formed. JSOC was formed because larger scale special operations missions require a lot of moving parts. The Army has the best helicopter and pilots in the world. The Navy Seals take on the dangerous ground missions, Army Special Forces work with indigenous people, the Air Force operates fixed wing aircraft. Because of all these parts they needed one command to handle it otherwise communications get mixed and things become difficult. There is no secret there. Anyone who has served in the military, especially at Fort Bragg, NC knows that and it is common knowledge.
Secondly, they act as if use of Special Operations in Afghanistan is something that was done secretly, saying at one point that Special Forces has never been used like this in such a conventional war. From the very beginning the Pentagon has made it clear that 1, this is not a "conventional war," and 2, Special Ops were going to be used on a unprecedented level in Afghanistan. So no conspiracy there.
Third, They point out a few instances of the death of civilians as if that never happens in war. Get off your high horse, this is a war! Show me one war in which some innocent people do not get killed. You will never find one, it happens, especially when you are fighting a war in which the enemy hides in plain sight, among the civilian population, and uses villages as human shields. Remember this is an enemy that uses tactics like suicide bombers that often kill their own people as well. The fact that the U.S. military and NATO Commmand did not comment or immediately take blame for the situation the film focused on is no big secret. They can't comment on specific situations especially when many Afghan civilians are family members of Taliban or villages are often frequented by Taliban fighters. There is a benefit on claiming all sorts of things on foreign forces. The military investigated and admitted it, in fact, that it was responsible. The video showed in the film was an investigation video. The fact that faces were not shown in the video was because these are operatives working among unfriendly forces that have a global reach. You don't show faces and give names because these people have families as well and could be targeted. With organizations that have no morals and could care less about those people and their families like.....investigative journalist and WikiLeaks, important measures have to be taken.
Now, as for the use of drones. There is an easy way to stop drone attacks in places like Yemen, which do end up killing innocent people. Turn in terrorist! Don't invite them to funeral, don't invite them to weddings, don't give them shelter. If you do those things, which are moral things because these people kill innocent people all the time. If you give no shelter to these horrible people, they can't be in places where innocent people could be casualties.
One area I will say that the filmmakers got something right is about the killing of an American citizen with the use of a drone without giving him due process. This is where we should be afraid of the Obama Administration who has little regard for the Constitution. Though this guy was actively and vocally supporting and making a push to recruit terrorist and deserved to reap what he sowed, he was an American citizen. That is where I give this disaster one star.
Ultimately there is very little in the way of facts given in this film. Facts and reasons are totally ignored in order to push ideological agenda in this movie. Freedom is never free and all government has to use covert actions in order to protect it's people. If you think that is wrong than your world must be full of unicorns, leprechauns, and rainbows, but that is not the real world. If you want to make a movie about some of those things, that is fine, it is your right, and in fact I would encourage responsible people to do so. Just present ALL the facts in a balanced way, don't just promote your own, "American is the great Satan," agenda. Otherwise you belong in your moms basement wearing a tin foil hat waiting for space aliens to come for you. 1 star!
American Mary (2012)
Dark, sexy, with a touch of odd and bizarre. Great Movie
"American Mary," is a offbeat horror/dark comedy that was a pleasure to watch. There is a dark sexiness that will keep anyone interested and the bizarre nature of it just works well. The basic storyline is of a surgical student who is in debt begins doing underground body modification surgeries of the extreme kind.
The story is great and original. The acting is also exceeded my expectations from what I had read here on IMDb. There is a pervasive, dark , sexy aspect that is just enough to tease and titillate. the subject matter is dark enough to fit into the same mold of classics like American Psycho, and in a way kind of reminds me of that movie.
I give it a 9, I loved it. Usually Canadian movies with a storyline like this get me excited to watch them but usually fall flat in the execution and come off a bit inhibited. This one fulfills my expectations in a way that most Hollywood movies don't. If your a fan of a bit off beat horror, and dark comedies, be sure to check this one out, I highly recommend it!
Shallow waste of film
"Jobs" was supposed to be a movie about the figure of Steve Jobs and his rise, fall, and Rerise at Apple. I'm not going to get into whether the movie was accurate or not, and I'm not going to attack Ashton Kutcher for playing Jobs. I don't think those things were the problem that rated it a 5 for me.
My problem is first it show Steve Jobs as nothing but a big A-hole. In fact the way they portrayed him gives him almost no redeeming value at all. My sense in this may just be somewhat true, but for the man he was, and how loved he seemed to be when he died, there had to be Something there, shouldn't there?
Secondly, they portrayed Jobs as if he had no technical abilities at all. They portrayed him as just a dreamer that told the technical people what he wanted a computer to do, but when it came to the actual technical work he had zero hand in it at all. If that is the case then I really think people should take a new look and stop worshipping this guy. But, my guess is, that he probably did have some sense of what he was doing, much different from the man portrayed in this film.
Anyway I give it a 5, if the guy was really as this film portrays than why did they waste time making this movie instead of just a half an hour documentary.