Tag: War

2017, TV

The Vietnam War (2017, Ken Burns, Lynn Novick)

This mammoth, 17+ hour documentary about The United States’ war in Vietnam is not perfect; it is a flawed film in at least two ways. But it is essential viewing for anyone alive today who hopes to understand the United States, its role in the world and its continued (seemingly endless) foreign policy mistakes, which …

2007, Movies

Body of War (2007, Phil Donahue, Ellen Spiro)

This is a clunky, made-for-TV quality “documentary” (more of an advocate film for reform of the Veterans Affairs administration, among other things) with some good ideas and powerful moments, but which doesn’t work super well as a feature film.

2014, Movies

71 (2014, Yann Demange)

This is a mostly stellar thriller set in Belfast in 1971. I think this would have been an exceptional movie had a surer hand with more experience directed it. Though tense, I can imagine a better (or more experienced) director making a more tense film. While I’m at my nit-pikcing, the framing device of the …

2014, Movies

Drone (2014, Tonje Hessen Schei)

This is a brief but compelling examination of the issues around the United States’ use of drones for “targeted killing.” It is a pretty conventional talking head documentary merged with a conventional documentary of the style where they follow people around, but the subject matter and a number of the interviewees are compelling enough that …

2007, Movies

Beaufort (2007, Joseph Cedar)

This is a lower budget Israeli war film that falls firmly in the “noble grunt” sub-genre but manages to avoid many of the cliches of that sub-genre. I say lower budget because the digital video quality feels like it belongs to 2001 not 2007. Anyway, the focuses on an outpost in Lebanon that Israel held …

1984, TV

Ballad of the Littler Soldier (1984, Werner Herzog, Denis Reichle)

This is a film made by Herzog and a photographer about soldiers, child soldiers and the consequences of war in Nicaragua and Honduras. It’s brief (made for TV) and is basically just reportage. It has no obvious structure and it really just feels like a film made to try to let people know what was …

1931, Movies

Waterloo Bridge (1931, James Whale)

From the very opening shot, it’s obvious that Whale is a better filmmaker than the average. His opening shot is not framed how a normal person would – Whale is missing half the stage and half the audience. Why does he do this? Well, there could be several interpretations, but I’m not interested in that …

1982, Movies

Austeria (1982, Jerzy Kawalerowicz)

This is a Polish neo-realist film covering the first day of World War I as it affects a community of Jews. It breaks with realist tradition by having flashbacks, but those are treated in the same way as the present. (I believe it only covers 24 hours, outside of the flashbacks.) This is pretty unexplored …

1958, Movies

Ashes and Diamonds (1958, Andrzej Wajda)

This is the first Polish Realism film I have seen and I must say I’m very impressed. It shares many characteristics with the great French and Italian realist/neo-realist films of the decade prior but, unlike (most of) those movies, it was made in a Communist country, and therefore feels like even more of a miracle. …

1929, Movies

Arsenal (1929, Aleksander Dovshenko)

This a daring, bold and inventive Soviet propaganda film that somehow manages to rise above it’s nature to become one of the earliest anti-war films, as well as a commemoration/celebration of the layman’s part in history. Dovshenko uses (totally insane) jump cuts, tableaux, few characters (and those aren’t even present for the whole film), lighting …

2009, Movies

Army of Crime (2009, Robert Guediguian

This feels like a spiritual sequel, albeit a corrective, to Melville’s classic Army of Shadows. In this version, the resistance is a ragtag group of foreigners, Jews and communists. It doesn’t have the same kind of suspense that Melville’s film has (I mean, this is Melville we’re talking about) but it’s got a larger scope, …

2014, Movies

War of Lies (2014, Mathias Bittner)

Let’s get this out of the way: This is a student film. The director freely admitted last night that he made this as his graduation “project” for film school.  When he said that before the movie, my expectations lowered considerably. I am always wary of first time directors. And there are definitely signs that this …

Politics, Society

Treason is what you make it

I am a regular viewer of the Amazing Race, the only “reality” show I can handle which isn’t cooking-related. I am aware that the show is not exactly what it seems, as I am aware that it is edited and that the crew manipulate the results. I don’t care. I enjoy the “race” aspect of …

2008, TV

Generation Kill (2008)

Generation Kill bears an uncanny resemblance to Jarhead. Yes, it’s a different war. And yes, these soldiers actually do get to fight. But we are still following overly intelligent but somehow still dehumanized, over-trained soldiers given inappropriate missions and placed in bizarre situations that don’t make any sense, even in the context of their mission …

2010, Movies

TIFF 10 Day 4

After not enough sleep, I made “rise and shine french toast” which was quite underwhelming. We sat around for a while and then went to Kaboom. What can I say? ‘What the fuck?’ is over-used but it is entirely appropriate for this crazy, undisciplined and entirely ridiculous film. I know of no university like this …

2008, Politics, Society

Sometimes it’s hard not to be a racist

In high school, we had both Serbs and Croats. There was an effort by the administration to make us understand that the civil war then going on was not a one sided affair, Serbia wasn’t the “bad guy.” Some of us understood that there was more than one side to the story, some of us …

1997, Movies

Hands on a Hard Body (1997, S.R. Bindler) Etc

The other day I watched Hands on a Hard Body. It was an awesome movie. Here is the best moment of it: “It’s like a movie that I once saw. It’s called Highlander. In the end, there can only be one.” Why this is funny…no, why this is amazingly hilarious: Until that point in the …

1977, Movies

Cross of Iron (1977, Sam Peckinpah)

It’s because of movies like Cross of Iron that, when I find a director I think is interesting, I try to watch all his movies, even those that don’t have good reputations. In the CD player: Wheels of Fire by Cream…listening to the live part. The first two tracks are great, the second two suck. …