Me and My Nine Iron

October 11, 2010

Movie reviews

Indeliberately, I managed to see three movies on the ongoing war in a short period of time. Before The Hurt Locker, movies on the war in Afghanistan and Iraq generally flopped at the box office. It’s weird that testosterone-driven males who love action flicks don’t consider seeing war movies or there would be a bigger bang at the box office. No pun intended. It’s like they want to distance themselves from the reality that thousands of Americans have died in a losing war. Maybe, it’s just too soon.

Green Zone

A highly-glamorized war movie, it was entertaining to say the least. It was a fast-paced thriller about the inaccuracies of the intelligence American troops have been receiving in regards to the whereabouts of weapons of mass destruction, and Matt Damon‘s will to find out the truth about the unreliable sources. Outside of that, it was nothing groundbreaking and the story was trite, and I’m utterly surprised Roger Ebert gave this movie four stars out of four.

Almost as surprising as the project being given a $100 million budget when they know about the general unpopularity of movies on this topic. And as big a star as Damon has become, he doesn’t command an audience as some might think. I’m surprised it even made $95 million.

Many called this movie anti-American, based on the portrayal of unfavorable actions. To those who feel that way, the truth hurts. Like in any workplace, politics are always involved, and I think everyone knows about the hardheadedness of a military. Michael Moore wrote, “It is the most HONEST film about the Iraq War made by Hollywood.” And like Lambs, it’s highly moralistic.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

The Hurt Locker

Probably the one Iraq-themed war movie that separates itself from the rest, it has a contemporary take on the modern war – fighting IEDs, not people. We all have its accolades fresh in our minds: the six Oscars, Kathryn Bigelow becoming the first female Best Director and the first Best Picture never to enter the weekend box office top 10. As great as this movie was, I don’t believe it deserved Best Picture and view its depiction on operations so inaccurate, it solely prevents me from giving it a perfect rating.

Those who know best how things work over there have this to say:

  • Author Brandon Friedman – “in real life, EOD techs don’t conduct dangerous missions as autonomous three-man teams without communications gear … Another thing you’ll rarely hear in combat is an EOD E-7 suggesting to two or three of his guys that they leave the scene of an explosion in an Iraqi city by saying: ‘C’mon, let’s split up. We can cover more ground that way.'”
  • Veteran Alex Horton – “the way the team goes about their missions is completely absurd”, though he went on to call the film “the best Iraq movie to date”
  • A bomb disposal team leader called the film’s portrayal of a bomb expert “grossly exaggerated and not appropriate”, and describing the lead character as “more of a run and gun cowboy type…exactly the kind of person that we’re not looking for”. Another bomb disposal team member said that the lead character’s “swagger would put a whole team at risk. Our team leaders don’t have that kind of invincibility complex, and if they do, they aren’t allowed to operate. A team leader’s first priority is getting his team home in one piece.”

So as cool as Jeremy Renner looked, it’s all-too-made for Hollywood and is insulting to our troops, who do risk their lives for us.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Lions for Lambs (2007)

After watching this movie, I had a hunch it would have received critical acclaim with its star-studded cast (Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise) and poignant dialogue. Redford also directed and produced the film, which he was excited for because it wasn’t like Hollywood’s many “straight-out entertainment” projects, like Green Zone is exactly. Instead, we see a professor (Redford) and a student talk in his office and a senator (Cruise) and a journalist (Streep) talk about the war as the clock on the wall ticks by an hour. We think there’s going to be some grand culmination bringing all of these characters together, but then the movie cuts out.

Three reviews that sum up mine:

  1. Ebert – “under the delusion that it’s going somewhere”
  2. Derek Elley of Variety – “uses a lot of words to say nothing new”
  3. Ray Bennett of The Hollywood Reporter – “a well-made movie that offers no answers but raises many important questions”

It’s not as harsh as the critics made it out to be and is almost as though it’s objective was to raise awareness on the war, which I don’t have a problem with. Others did, and it was one of Cruise’s lowest-grossing movies.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Ludo – Prepare the Preparations

The St. Louis-native band came out with a much better album than their last, most notably, their acoustic/softer tracks in the middle of the album (Anything for You, All the Stars in Texas) are a vast improvement over those in their major studio label debut album, You’re Awful, I Love You. And it’s paid off, cracking them in the top 100 for the first time. They’re only going to get bigger in the alternative rock scene and might’ve pegged themselves over Motion City Soundtrack, whose recent album, My Dinosaur Life, can’t keep up with this one.

Favorite tracks: Too Tired to Wink, Whipped Cream, Rotten Town

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Maroon 5 – Hands All Over

One of the best-selling artists released their third studio album last month and like my sister and I joked, it takes them five years to come out with new music and it sounds the exact same (e.g. their first single, Misery). But like Misery, I’m not going to complain because why change what’s already working? Still, I’ve never seen a music artist evolve so little two albums and eight years later.

Frontman Adam Levine once remarked that this would be their last album, which would be a hell of a stint, squeezing every last drop out of their fame bottle. So where does this album rank among their three? Quite easily second, as I don’t see them ever being able to touch their debut album, as most artists seem to not be able to. But it’s a hell of a play, and I only skip one track – ironically, the album’s eponymous song.

Get the Deluxe Edition if you can; totally worth an additional five songs for $3 more. The last two are among my top 5, and there’s also a nice Alicia Keys cover.

Favorite tracks: Misery, I Can’t Lie, Get Back In My Life, Last Chance, No Curtain Call

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

I would’ve posted the more popular Misery by Maroon 5, but the music video was so ridiculously bad, I went with Ludo’s single, Whipped Cream.




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  6. I would’ve never thought to put Apocalypse Now among the war classics, and I haven’t seen it. I have a long list of movies to watch from before I was born, and I’ll be sure to watch the 1979 film now.

    I don’t consider Inglourious Basterds anywhere near a war movie and definitely, not among your list of war movies. Great movie, though.

    Comment by Bryan — October 13, 2010 @ 12:55 pm | Reply

  7. The Pianist is good, as is Adrien Brody. I recommend it. But I was destined to love it because it features a bunch of Chopin piano pieces.

    Have you seen Apocalypse Now? It’s dark, hella long and slow and confusing as hell at times, but there are so many iconic scenes and Brando’s performance is so haunting, it’s worth a watch. But you will be drained afterward. The first half of Full Metal Jacket is must-watch and classic Kubrick.

    Honestly, the most rewatchable war movie I can think of is Inglourious Basterds.

    Comment by Chris Le — October 13, 2010 @ 10:27 am | Reply

  8. Well said. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t want to watch again any of the three movies I just saw.

    How about The Pianist? Is that considered a war movie? That might be different for me.

    Comment by Bryan — October 13, 2010 @ 1:30 am | Reply

  9. I’ve never been a fan of war movies. Like you said, it’s too much reality and far too depressing. Even classics like Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket and Schindler’s List — all masterpieces — are one and done. They’re not rewatchable. I mean how many times can you see acts of brutality you know actually happened?

    Comment by Chris Le — October 12, 2010 @ 10:10 pm | Reply

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