No matter where you stand on the war in Iraq debate, American Sniper is a film worth watching. I was torn when the film was released. Did we need another war film? Did we need a film before we were out of Iraq telling us whether the war was good or bad?
So I waited for the film to come out on DVD and Blu-ray, which happened this week, just in time for Memorial Day weekend.
I was surprised at how good the film was. I know, I know, it was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor in a Leading Role (Bradley Cooper). (It only won Best Achievement in Sound Editing). American Sniper is not an analytical film about war, instead war is the reality of the narrative. It is the story of a father, a husband, and a service man, Chris Kyle (Cooper).
Hart Crane was an early 20th century modernist poet. His poetry was difficult to understand, it was highly stylized, and very ambitious. James Franco, as writer, director, and actor, brings to us the complicated life of the mustachioed gay romantic living mostly in his own head in The Broken Tower. As complicated as Crane’s life and poetry was, so is this biopic based on Paul Mariani’s biography of the same title. Shot in black-and-white video, Franco’s film uses repetitive, stop-and-start-like cuts that are very chaotic and could simply mirror Crane’s life, that of a man who ended his own life by jumping from the steamship SS Orizaba at the age of 32.
Franco tells the narrative of Crane’s life using a chapter-based structure (not unlike a technique used by director Lars von Trier). These chapters are called “Voyages,” which is the title of a series of erotic poems written by Crane. The Voyages help guide the film through Crane’s narrative, moving us from his early years in Cleveland, to the streets of New York, to trips to Paris and Mexico.
Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) is an American journalist who has relocated to San Juan, Puerto Rico as a freelance writer in the 1950s. He’s hired by a not-so-great American newspaper to write the daily horoscopes. At first he thinks it’s a joke, but alas, it is not.
As the film unfolds, there’s a tension in the air, and I don’t mean the rum-aroma air that almost seeps through the screen. There is a tension existing inside Paul Kemp. As he sits at Al’s bar with Chenault (Amber Heard) he tells her, “I don’t know how to write like me.” From the beginning of the film, we see this struggle. After witnessing his first Puerto Rican cock fight, Paul wanders off with a camera. He snaps some pictures of the local children in a trash dump. He then writes a story about the children eating in the dump. He wants to draw the attention of the reader to this great injustice. It’s rejected by the editor, Lotterman (Richard Jenkins). “Nothing will change,” Lotterman reasons. “You underestimate me,” Kemp replies.
It’s hard to believe that VeggieTales hasn’t tackled the classic Noah’s ark story until now. They finally have in the new release Noah’s Ark, where carrots meet cubits. Pa Grape joins a long line of other actors who have portrayed the great ark builder.
© 2015 Big Idea Entertainment.
The Veggie version of the story has Noah’s son Shem and his wife Sadie returning home after their honeymoon. Shem is voice by Wayne Brady of Let’s Make a Deal and Whose Line Is It Anyway, while Sadie is voice by Christian music artist Jaci Velasquez.
The Cabin in the Woods is a tribute to the slasher film, while also a satire of the slasher film. Like all good horror films, Cabin has the standard set of stereotypical characters. The whore, Dana (Kristen Connolly), the jock, Curt (Thor’s Chris Hemsworth), the academic, Holden (Jesse Williams from Grey’s Anatomy) the fool, Marty (Fran Kranz), and the virgin (or close to it compared to the whore), Jules (Anna Hutchison). These five head out to a cabin in the woods to get away from the challenges of college life. And that’s when we expect to see what happens in every other slasher film. Except, this isn’t every other slasher film.
Without giving anything away, let’s just say that nothing in this film is quite what it seems to be. Which, given the writing duo of Drew Goddard (who also directed) and Joss Whedon, might just be the point. From the very beginning, you might think you walked into the wrong theater. Goddard and Whedon decide to pull the curtain back on the horror movie wizard and that’s where they start. But they don’t tell you that. That’s part of the story that unravels.