Movie Review: American Sniper (2014)

Competent though wretched fare pandering to American Exceptionalism (3/10)
Reviewed by Brian R. Wright

As with most of Clint Eastwood’s cinematic efforts, American Sniper is good moviemaking; he gives you solid plot and engaging action. Also, in this case, Bradley Cooper turns in an excellent, believable performance as the Navy S.E.A.L. super sniper Chris Kyle.

Along with many in the peace and anti-imperialist community, I balked at watching this film. Even though the work is first rate and you are drawn into caring for the principal characters—gotta keep your war buddies from being killed and gotta handle the psychological problems of adjusting to nonwar life— the overwhelming question sweeps over you like a tsunami: “What in the hell are we doing here?!” Why are groups of brawny American men with guns and grenades going door to door in neighborhoods that US jets and artillery have bombed into pieces… and rousting scrawny remnants of once-thriving civilians, that OUR freedom forces have brutalized beyond recognition, clinging to life by a thread?

The magnitude of American wrongdoing in Iraq (and now all the other countries as part of the Greater Israel Project) is so depressing as to be an indictment of any enterprise associated with it, including, nay especially, Hollywood apologia. The fact that that the predominant USA! USA! booboosie masses are inflated by such barbarism directed against ‘the helpless other’ only serves to make American Sniper even more disgusting to anyone with the moral sensitivity or intelligence above a toilet seat. Continue reading

Movie Review: Heartbreak Ridge (1986)

“You been freeze-dried or doin’ hard time?” (7.5/10)

HeartbreakThe poignant credit frames, accompanied by a drum roll, which show black and white footage of soldiers from the forgotten meatgrinder that preceded Vietnam—the Korean War—fade into a scene in a big city jail, where Marine Gunnery Sgt. Tom ‘Gunny’ Highway (Clint Eastwood) is holding court… profanely. No kidding, the expletive-laden, obscenity-charged language in this movie from start to finish is not only fresh and funny—I never knew there were so many words for sex organs and sex acts—it would leave half an hour of dead silence in any showing of the film on commercial television.

As I was saying in my review of Charlie Wilson’s War, like Tom Hanks, Clint Eastwood almost always makes a movie that’s entertaining. Heartbreak Ridge is no exception. Further, if you can put aside your expectations and stereotypes of a 1980s Clint Eastwood film, you may discover some fairly deep character work in this homage to the American soldier-warrior. For one thing, two world-class actresses bolster the give and take: multiple Academy-award nominee Marsha Mason plays Gunny’s volatile, long-suffering ex-wife and Academy-award winner Eileen Heckart (Butterflies are Free, 1972) plays the widow of Stony Jackson, the leader of Highway’s battalion who was killed in action at “Heartbreak Ridge.” Continue reading

Movie Review: Gran Torino (2008)

Academy ignores one of the better ones (8.5/10)

Gran TorinoWalt Kowalski: Oh, I’ve got one: A Mexican, a Jew, and a colored guy go into a bar. The bartender looks up and says, “Get the fuck out of here.”

Walt Kowalski
: Take these three items, some WD-40, a vice grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone.

Walt Kowalski: [to Father Janovich] The thing that haunts a guy is the stuff he wasn’t ordered to do.

Walt Kowalski: [to Father Janovich] I think you’re an overeducated 27-year-old virgin who likes to hold the hands of superstitious old ladies and promise them everlasting life. Continue reading

Movie Review: The Bridges of Madison County (1995)

A Tour de Force by Eastwood, Streep __ 9/10

Bridges of Madison CountyFrancesca: Robert, please. You don’t understand, no-one does. When a woman makes the choice to marry, to have children; in one way her life begins but in another way it stops. You build a life of details. You become a mother, a wife and you stop and stay steady so that your children can move. And when they leave they take your life of details with them. And then you’re expected move again only you don’t remember what moves you because no-one has asked in so long. Not even yourself. You never in your life think that love like this can happen to you.
Robert Kincaid: But now that you have it…
Francesca: I want to keep it forever. I want to love you the way I do now the rest of my life. Don’t you understand… we’ll lose it if we leave. I can’t make an entire life disappear to start a new one. All I can do is try to hold onto to both. Help me. Help me not lose loving you. Continue reading

Movie Review: Hereafter (2010)

Humanitarian exploration of afterlife ___ 9/10
Review by Brian Wright

HereafterDirected by Clint Eastwood
Written by Peter Morgan

On the surface, Hereafter is a fairly straightforward story of two individuals—George Lonegan (Matt Damon) and Marie LeLay (Cécile De France)—who have near-death experiences that result in special understanding that seemingly drives them toward each other across the continents. But their internal struggles with having a unique ability to ‘see in the world of the dead,’ the characters with whom they pass through their lives, and strangers who are drawn to them—particularly to Lonegan, who has reluctantly spent some time in the psychic market—make the film a complex tapestry of, usually benign, behavior.

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