war

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See American Sniper early and free


Washington DC screening
Jan 12
// Matthew Razak
I thought American Sniper missed its target (sorry) a bit, but there is no doubt that the film is both powerful and well made. If you're into that kind of thing then you probably want some passes to see it... tonight. Ye...

Review: American Sniper

Dec 24 // Matthew Razak
[embed]218766:42085:0[/embed] American SniperDirector: Clint EastwoodRated: RRelease Date: December 25, 2014 You may have heard of Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) in the news as he was the most successful sniper in American history. The man is a legend and American Sniper tracks that legend from his first shot to his last. Most of the film is spent in war zones, but it hops back to Kyle's home life every so often to show how his service in the field is tearing him down at home with his wife, Taya Renae Kyle (Sienna Miller) and child. There's also a running story line of an ex-olympic sniper fighting for the bad guys that constantly haunts, kills and scares the soldiers that Chris is protecting. It's the mugguffin (whether he be real or not) that keeps the combat part of the film going. By bouncing Chris back and forth between deployments and home life the movie attempts to show us the effect that killing and constant war has on the sniper. It would be an incredibly interesting approach if the film ever fully committed to it. Instead it is content to focus on the war zone and leave Chris' PTSD and family issues to be background fodder to thrilling war sequences. There's an attempt to create a tension here, but it feels false as the film, much like the soldier, feels far more comfortable and happy when it's taking out enemy combatants. When the movie is doing this it is fantastic. Eastwood's direction is in your face and intense. The kind of war scenes that make your palms sweaty as you watch them. Chris' first shot is a perfect example of this as he is tasked with taking out a mother and child who are moving to destroy a garrison with a grenade. From the moment this scene begins Eastwood pulls you in with a dirty style of direction that is stunning. Every war scene in this film is fantastic. It makes it all the worse when it cuts back home and seems to almost lost interest. Yes, there is tension there, but the movie never cares about it. We get 20 minutes in a battle zone and then two at home until Chris is back again. While that may be an authentic representation of how his time was spent it turns Chris' mental health issues into nothing more than a throw away. The end of the film is a long battle when it should really be focusing on the man. To tell the story of a modern American war hero you can't just tell the story of war. Cooper seems to understand this, imbuing his performance with a certain timidity that you wouldn't expect from a NAVY Seal role. He's great from scene to scene, though nothing that will win him an Oscar. He definitely beefed up for the role though, and it is nice to see him take a departure from the smarmy characters he's been tackling recently. It is a different slant for him and it suits him well.  American Sniper hits on the sniper part of its title, but sadly forgets to talk about the American. This is a complex man who is a hero, but by marginalizing his home life and mental issues we do him and other Veterans a disservice. We should expect more out of our war movies, because our soldiers aren't just heroes, they're men. 
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A missed shot
Clint Eastwood is easily one of the best directors in Hollywood so him tackling the incredible story of Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle is something to get pretty excited about. We already know he has the war movie chops tha...

Review: Kill Team

Jul 23 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]215318:39994:0[/embed] Kill TeamDirector: Dan KraussRelease Date: July 25, 2014 (New York, National rollout to follow)Rating: NR  The primary focus of Kill Team is Private Adam Winfield and his family. Private Winfield was the whistleblower who attempted to bring attention to these criminal acts for months. Despite his efforts and his family's efforts, military brass never acted in an urgent way. Private Winfield's own father, who also served and was the reason that Private Winfield enlisted in the Army, reached out to as many professional contacts as he could that might be able to do something. None of these people could help, and many deferred responsibility to other parties. The reason these kills took place was the squad leader, Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs. Gibbs is an imposing figure, an all-American freedom machine with the features of a GI Joe. He served tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and in addition to his hardcore machismo, there's a major psychopathic and sociopathic streak to him. He looks at the Afghan population as sub-human, and even makes a necklace of index finger bones for his own amusement. As trophies of his kills, Gibbs also gets tattoos, and he encourages those under him to do as he does. Gibbs is never interviewed for the documentary, and it's no surprise that he'd avoid participating in this film since he wouldn't come out of it in any sort of positive light. A few of Private Winfield's fellow soldiers are interviewed, however, and they are so blunt about what happened it adds additional chill to what they say. It's like they're describing trips to the store rather than the murder of innocent people; as if they're talking about others planting grenades and pulling the triggers rather than themselves. It seems like they viewed the peacekeeping side of the mission as tedious rather than essential, while the firefights were where the fun was at. Private Winfield was coerced to murder an innocent civilian himself under threat of death. The rest of his company knew he wanted to reveal what they've done, and they made it known that if he blew the whistle, they'd kill him and make it look like an accident. If  they could make innocent civilians seem like enemy combatants, it wouldn't be so hard to make another murder seem like part of routine combat. Under that kind of duress, Private Winfield had no choice but to comply. His parents were helpless to help, and Army higher ups weren't too concerned. On top of that, Private Winfield's small in stature and even though he has a lot of heart, his rucksack weighs as much as he does. Private Winfield seems like the only person interviewed that shows any remorse about the killings. He recalls the moment and calls it the worst thing in his life. The other troops who are so matter-of-fact describe a kind of compartmentalization of military action and civilian life. Back home, a troop may be filled with angst and anxiety that they try to tamp down as best as they can. They express no desire to kill when on leave, but things are different when back in Afghanistan. Obviously this isn't the case with all troops and the documentary isn't painting everyone who serves in the same light, but Kill Team does a good job of profiling just how dark these impulses can become. Much of the film's focus is on Private Winfield's fate and how his family copes with the legal defense. In some ways this points out part of the film limitations in its exploration of this issue. No doubt a lot of this had to do with access, and director Dan Krauss makes the most out of his time with the Winfields. While some of Private Winfield's fellow troops participate in the documentary, none of their families appear. Part of me wonders how their experiences were and what their personal stories involved, especially in the case of Gibbs's loved ones. Did they notice something wrong? Did they know what was happening? How do they feel now that they know what's happened? One minor issue I had with Kill Team had to do with its presentation, of all things. When Krauss is in documentary journalism mode, the film is brimming with power. The more cinematic flourishes in the film seem less effective, though. The cinematography is nice, but it seems like a bit of a distraction -- a kind of garnish rather than something that complements the content. There's also the slow crawl of text from Facebook chats between Private Winfield and his father, which are more affected than effective. It's a testament to the power of this story, maybe, that I'm critical of a choice of presentation that gets in the way of the facts. Quibbles aside, Kill Team is an important film that may be the first of many to come. Once again, as we're told in the film, this is something that happens more that we think. Other units have engaged in similar actions, and the civilians who witness it are going to harbor deep and legitimate resentments that will be passed through villages, conveyed to the next generation. When more of these stories are revealed and more time has passed when the last troops have left, we may get a larger and more complicated picture of the country and the conflict. The silence can't last for long.
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Examining US troops that murdered innocent Afghan civilians for sport
The war in Afghanistan is the longest military conflict in which the United States has been involved. The operation is nowhere near as successful as hoped, which is part of the reality of fighting a war in Afghanistan, a less...


Tribeca Capsule Review: The Project

May 05 // Hubert Vigilla
The ProjectDirectors: Shawn Efran and Adam CiralskyRating: TBDRelease Date: TBD When Prince is on screen, he keeps talking about the situation in Somalia in terms of action movies, even comparing the country to Mad Max. Coming from the creator of the world's largest private military company, it's an unintentional but revealing description. In an action movie, the plot of a PMPF movie would go like this: a ragtag group of a few hundred Somali volunteers would transform from underfed and untrained civilians into the best and brightest fighting force in East Africa. Movies aren't real life, though. In The Project, the PMPF plot is more like this: a ragtag group of a few hundred Somali volunteers is so malnourished that their legs break while running; they've never worn footwear with laces and require boot training before firing rusted guns (the PMPF was disallowed new weaponry because of an arms embargo); and they may be secret spies for the pirates. When the PMPF embarks on their first missions, there's a genuine fear of the group's catastrophic failure. The main guide for The Project is Roger Carstens, a former Special Forces lieutenant colonel embedded with the PMPF to film and observe how they conduct operations. Former UN coordinator Matthew Bryden is included in the film as a counterpoint, citing lack of oversight. While the whole story of the PMPF is incomplete (e.g., no exploration of reported beatings and killings of trainees) and unfolding (e.g., needs more about the multiple factors causing a dip in Somali piracy as well as the origins and rise of al-Shabaab), I still think that directors Shawn Efran and Adam Ciralsky have created a worthwhile conversation starter, and I hope they continue to follow the story.
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The Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF) vs. Somali pirates
At the end of The Project we're shown events that happened in March 2013 involving the Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF). There's  a harrowing stand-off with Somali pirates just off the coast. Since the events and de...

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Trailer: Dirty Wars


Apr 23
// Liz Rugg
Dirty Wars is a Sundance selected documentary by director Richard Rowley which seeks to shed light on the extremely covert operations of the United States government's Joint Special Operations Command. Dirty Wars follows inv...
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Trailer: Library Wars (Toshokan Sensou)


A Japanese light novel/YA series gets a live-action big screen adaptation
Feb 11
// Hubert Vigilla
Library Wars (Toshokan Sensō) has a concept so strange yet fresh that I'm immediately intrigued. Adapted from a series of Japanese light novels (young adult novels) by Hiro Arikawa, Library Wars also spawned a manga and...

Book: All the Emperor's Men: Kurosawa's Pearl Harbor

Dec 19 // Hubert Vigilla
Then again, that assessment puts a little too much blame on Kurosawa. Before Kurosawa was even attached to Tora! Tora! Tora!, producer Darryl F. Zanuck had big ambitions. Fox had scored a major hit with The Longest Day, a massive production about the D-Day invasion mounted by American, British, French, and German talent. With Tora! Tora! Tora!, Zanuck wanted to do something similar with a Japanese/American co-production about the bombing of Pearl Harbor: a Japanese team would shoot their side of the story, an American team would shoot its own, and a balanced film would be the end result. Kurosawa wound up with the directing job thanks to Elmo Williams, best known for editing High Noon. A fan of Kurosawa's films, Williams showed Zanuck Rashomon and Seven Samurai. Kurosawa accepted, partly because of Zanuck's relationship with director John Ford, who was one of Kurosawa's biggest heroes. It all sounded so amicable, and everyone would be going into the film with the best intentions. Kurosawa actually felt the weight of history on his shoulders to make this movie, and even a sense of fate -- Kurosawa was 56 years old when he took on the project; Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was 56 at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack. But after an agonizing scripting process and just 23 days of shooting, Kurosawa was dismissed from the film. Not without reason. The production was well behind schedule, and the cast and crew reported that Kurosawa had gone mad: he'd show up on set drunk and/or in bad moods; he'd verbally abuse and fire people on a whim; he was even paranoid that the yakuza was after him. As Tasogawa notes in his prologue, upon being dismissed from Tora! Tora! Tora!, Kurosawa said the following to Williams through an interpreter: "If you all insist on dismissing me, I will commit hari-kari and die." (Kurosawa would unsuccessfully attempt suicide almost three years later in 1971.) Tasogawa was an assistant to Kurosawa during this time and translated the Japanese and American screenplays for Tora! Tora! Tora! Tasogawa also translated the screenplay for Kurosawa's Runaway Train, a film that was abandoned prior to work on Tora! Tora! Tora! A runaway train is a metaphor for this whole ordeal; it's like Herzog moving the boat over the mountain for Fitzcarraldo. A still odder coincidence, Kurosawa's first film after these unfortunate productions was the small-in-scope Dodes'ka-den, the title of which is Japanese onomatopoeia for the sound of a moving train (i.e., how they say "clickety-clack" in Tokyo). All the Emperor's Men doesn't read like a memoir until the end but remains deeply involved and compelling. It's more of a journalistic account of how the production unfurled, not quite like those legendary Esquire pieces by Gay Talese, but similar in how personal distance is used to establish humanizing closeness. By keeping himself mostly out of the book, Tasogawa allows readers to feel like flies on the wall rather than tag-alongs. That sort of reader experience shouldn't be discounted. It establishes a tone of balance in search of facts, which might mirror the best intentions of the Tora! Tora! Tora! production. Only in the epilogue to do we see Tasogawa clearly: a man in his early-to-mid-thirties getting drunk on whiskey until dawn with one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. One of the most essential ideas in All the Emperor's Men is the difference in expectations from Zanuck/Fox and Kurosawa. In his foreword, Williams notes that film is a business, especially with a major war film like Tora! Tora! Tora! Kurosawa approached this all differently, which might be hubris, but I think it's more the result of cultural difference. Tasogawa says that film is more director-driven in Japan while it's more producer-driven in America. There's also the problematic matter of two screenplays for two different stories unfolding in one movie. This is not writing an exquisite corpse like the surrealists used to do for kicks. Collaborative writing seems like something that needs to be done side-by-side with real-time discussion rather than thousands of miles apart by post. Kurosawa's side of the screenplay highlighted Admiral Yamamoto as a central tragic figure, and yet he is meant to have a strange human side to him, at one point waddling like Charlie Chaplin. Kurosawa wrote his first draft of the film with two other screenwriters, Hideo Oguni and Ryuzo Kikushima. The first draft was more than 1,000 handwritten pages in Japanese, and more than 650 pages when it was printed and bound as an English version for the producers. (You can apparently find a copy of one of these behemoths in a library in LA.) While there were striking scenes in it that Tasogawa includes in the book, the screenplay was written in evocative prose that wouldn't help a production company determine the budget, let alone where a camera should go. And then so many strange events occurred that seemed to spell doom for the film before it even got underway. Kurosawa went with unconventional casting of non-actors, a decision that would eventually result in a falling out with long-time friend and collaborator Toshiro Mifune. On the U.S. side of the production, rather than picking an American filmmaker on par with Kurosawa, Fox went with Richard Fleischer, best known for Fantastic Voyage and Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. (No offense to the late Fleischer, but I don't think he's even on the same level as Kinji Fukasaku, one of the two Japanese directors that Fox picked to replace Kurosawa.) Tasogawa includes a hilarious mention of the first face-to-face meeting between Kurosawa and Fleischer in Hawaii. As if the high stakes weren't human enough, this small moment of awkwardness and resentment makes everyone in the book even more sympathetic. Somehow amid the reportage and relaying of information, Tasogawa tells a story that's rarely dry. It reads well -- a few slight redundancies here and there, but nothing too distracting -- but more importantly, it left me intrigued throughout. This is particularly true of its explorations of Kurosawa's thematic hobby horses and a bizarre day-to-day shooting timeline that shows just how unhinged Kurosawa had become. Even during some complicated sections regarding studio contracts and insurance, I felt glued. Tasogawa finds a sense of cultural difference and language barriers here as he does in other sections of the book -- in America, a contract is perceived one way, in Japan it's perceived another; and no one in any culture really understands the alien legalese in which contracts are written. But more than intriguing, All the Emperor's Men is a compassionate portrait of its various players. No one comes out totally blameless, no one involved is free from culpability when it comes to the filmmaking fiasco, and no one comes out of the book a bad guy. There's an obvious tragedy for Kurosawa, who seems to have experienced a total breakdown of some kind. Zanuck is tragic as well, particularly given his fate after a series of production losses. And I felt a strange affinity for Williams, a man caught in between Fox and Kurosawa, who himself felt responsible for hurting both the company he worked for and the Japanese filmmaker he'd so admired. There's so much to unpack in All the Emperor's Men, but I wanted to end with the idea of epilepsy as a road to artistry. Kurosawa suffered from epilepsy, as did Vincent Van Gogh and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. As Tasogawa pointed out yesterday, it's been posited that some epileptics may experience emotions more vividly. Here are three artists with such a strange set of aesthetic connections and sensibilities. You can see the expressive color in Kurosawa's later films (e.g., Dodes'ka-den and Kagemusha) as well as his paintings (one seen above) which suggest the textures and mastery of Van Gogh. Dostoyevsky was Kurosawa's favorite writer; the director praised Dostoyevsky for his unflinching compassion in the face of such misery and tragedy. There may be something to this, or maybe it's just the number 56 all over again. Epilepsy is not sufficient for artistry, of course. One can feel something very deeply, but it takes talent and craft to translate that feeling into something that communicates it to others. And so I come back to that idea not of Kurosawa's unmade Tora! Tora! Tora! but Kurosawa's unmakeable Tora! Tora! Tora! To have invested so much for so long, to have strained in collaboration as a kind of unwanted compromise, to feel a weight of history and fate guiding you as you create something -- that's too much feeling to contain, and possibly felt too profoundly. Something inevitably gets lost in translation. In this case, maybe too much that was too important would have been lost, though I wonder if it was even capable of being expressed.
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Hiroshi Tasogawa's explores the unmaking of Akira Kurosawa's Tora! Tora! Tora!
There's a song on Cursive's The Ugly Organ called "Art is Hard." The title is so facile and yet you know it's true. In Les Blank's documentary The Burden of Dreams, you watch Werner Herzog suffer potential ruin in order to co...

Flixclusive Interview: Author Hiroshi Tasogawa

Dec 18 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]214108:39331:0[/embed] In the acknowledgments, you mentioned that All the Emperor's Men was based on your Japanese book Kurosawa vs. Hollywood. Why did you decide to write a new book rather than translate the Japanese book into English? I strongly believe that readers with different languages and different cultures need a book written for them. When I wrote my original work Kurosawa vs. Hollywood published in Tokyo in 2006, I had only Japanese readers in mind. In other words, the original book was written on the premise that the author and the reader had many things in common: traditional conception, sensitivity, way of life, and basic knowledge about things Japanese. Too often I have observed that there is no use trying to explain Japanese nuanced key words in a different language because their connotations are easily lost or misunderstood in translation. Also, there are many cases where it is too difficult or simply not worthwhile to try to explain them in a different language. Translated Japanese does not always work in English, anyway. That is why I decided to reorganize the entire structure of my original work and chose to write a new book in English from the very beginning. It was indeed a challenging task. Many passages in the original work have been excised. On the other hand, I could successfully include new materials and fresh interpretations in the English edition. I am also very happy that Elmo Williams wrote the foreword and Peter Cowie wrote the introduction for me in All the Emperor's Men. Those are new to the English edition and I am lucky to be able to include them. Anyway, if you want to write a book in a language that is not your own as I did, it's better to shake off the curse of translation. Then you will have more freedom and spontaneity. You have some great personal anecdotes in the epilogue about your interactions with Akira Kurosawa. What’s the most enduring memory you have of the man? I was introduced to Kurosawa by the prominent film scholar Donald Richie, a long-time close friend of the director. Richie was a professor at my alma mater, Waseda Univerisity. I worked for Kurosawa as an interpreter, translator, and researcher for about 28 months between September 1966 and December 1968. That is when he was working on The Runaway Train and Tora! Tora! Tora! Actually, I was a part-time volunteer assistant to Kurosawa and I was never paid anything for my work. The most enduring memory I have of the man is the six days in May 1968 when I accompanied Kurosawa on his visit to Beverly Hills, California. He went there for summit talks with Fox President Darryl F. Zanuck in an attempt to break an impasse over the shooting script of Tora! Tora! Tora! As soon as his business at the Fox Studio was over, he preferred to be driven immediately back to his hotel. After dumping his business suit and a tie, he would take a quick shower, change into his pajamas and a dressing gown, and he sit down for a drink. It was exactly the same for six days as if set in stone. He flatly refused to go out for sightseeing or to eat out. Kurosawa and I spent long hours at his suite in the Plaza Hotel after work -- just the two of us -- until dawn. Every afternoon after work -- before and after the same dinner via room service of a thick beef file mignon, rare, with baked potato on the side -- we downed two one-liter bottles of Kurosawa’s favorite brand of Scotch whiskey, White Horse. It was indeed a rare experience for me, which is not so easy to forget. Kurosawa was 58 years old and I was 34. I think it was mostly an empty conversation. Kurosawa had no shortage of topics, all of them amusing. I have little or no memory, however, of what we talked about. Most of the time, I was helplessly fatigued and drunk. All I really wanted was to get rid of this 'old drunkard', return to my room, and have some sleep. In later years, not a few fellow journalists despised me as a 'drunken fool' because -- they say -- it could have been in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest exclusive interview with this great filmmaker. About this, I am very remorseful. It could have earned me a fortune. Tetsuo Aoyagi is such a fascinating figure. I’m still not sure how I feel about him. That ambivalence is not a criticism but a compliment to the way you conveyed all the information in the book. I believe you mentioned something about his reputation in the Japanese film industry. Could you elaborate on that? There have been fiercely differing views as to what he had actually tried to do in the Tora! Tora! Tora! production. Some say he was a villain who betrayed and deceived Kurosawa, and others say he was just one of those men who tried to help the director but couldn't. For the past four decades, Aoyagi has refused any interview on the Tora! Tora! Tora! fiasco. I used to work closely with Aoyagi as a friend during the time I served as Kurosawa's assistant. I know Aoyagi well and I remember him as an able, hard-working man. I now know also that he had his own ambition -- and possibly strong ego and greed -- in his younger days. I am not in a position to comment further on his personality or his reputation. Some Kurosawa loyalists say Aoyagi has already been ostracized from Japanese filmdom. I don't know. All I can say is that he was one of those 'lone wolves' in the Japanese film industry and still is. How do you feel about the finished film Tora! Tora! Tora!? I first saw the film at the 1970 world premier at the Criterion Theate in Manhattan. I felt then and I still feel now that the Kurosawa version of Tora! Tora! Tora! would have been a different film in many ways. Most likely, it would have been a better film with more humanized tragic components woven into the Japanese sequences. This feeling is based on my understanding of Kurosawa's mindset and aspirations concerning the Pearl Harbor epic film. What was probably most compromised was the opening scene which Kurosawa thought very important. The entrance of the tragic protagonist, Admiral Yamamoto, the C-in-C of the Japanese Imperial Navy's Combined Fleet. He arrived at his flagship the Nagato on September 1, 1939. That was the day when World War II began in Europe. In this opening scene, Kurosawa was about to describe beautifully a sense of destiny surrounding Admiral Yamamoto who was soon to be the architect of Pearl Harbor attack. For years Yamamoto had risked assassination dangers and tried boldly to prevent a disastrous war with the United States. After Fox expelled Kurosawa from the studio, Elmo Williams -- with the approval by Darryl Zanuck -- revised Kurosawa's final shooting screenplay although they tried to keep the basic storylines. They deleted a dozen scenes, and shortened or rewrote more than 30 scenes. Those changes seriously affected many of Kurosawa's 'pet scenes'. Most regrettably lost was this opening scene. Kurosawa's idea was cheapened almost beyond recognition. I resent it. I've always been curious if a translator is also a kind of literary editor. (Maybe more like Maxwell Perkins than Gordon Lish.) What are your thoughts on the role of a translator and the art of translation? There is an old saying dating back to the Italian renaissance which likens the art of translation to the reputation of a woman. It goes something like this: a chaste one is ugly; a beautiful one raises doubts about chastity. Just think of computer translation. Word-by-word translation so often ends up in ugly nonsense. To be sure, since there are so many different languages in this world we need interpreters and translators to help us communicate beyond linguistic and cultural barriers. That said, some sort of editing and retelling is inevitable and should be tolerated in the course of translation. Sometimes interpreters are criticized as 'interrupters' but we must forgive them because they are useful in many cases. If you suspect some quaintness, just laugh it off. With modern technology, more convenient means of communication, and a globalized world, do you think an ambitious co-production like Tora! Tora! Tora! could get made today without as much trouble, or would there be similar difficulties given cultural differences? You probably have in mind the internet, Skype, and other computerized technology. Technological innovation has indeed revolutionized the speed of communication but not its quality. It is too obvious that the computer will never save the world. Technology has achieved very little in improving human wisdom or in alleviating the human misery of the present world. On the contrary, advanced technology has sometimes aggravated suspicion, hatred, greed, or distrust among peoples. Four decades ago, when Tora! Tora! Tora! production was in progress, we had only the telephone and telegrams to communicate across the Pacific. The computerized means of communication might be useful in speeding up message transmission and perhaps also in closing information gaps between the United States and Japan. But it would be less helpful in closing conception gaps rooted in language barriers and cultural differences. I think that is one lesson we could learn from the Tora! Tora! Tora! fiasco. There's a section of All the Emperor's Men where you discuss a possible link between epilepsy and artistry. Could you elaborate on this? Do you have any personal thoughts on this theory? Several Japanese medical experts who read my book have told me that Kurosawa seemed to have had classic symptoms of 'temporal lobe epilepsy', called the Geshwind Syndrome (also known as 'Gastaut-Geschwind Syndrome'). Doctors say that epilepsy is a type of electrical short-circuit discharge of the brain and that it has significant effects on the behavior of most people who suffer from this trouble. Commonly cited characteristics of the Geshwind Syndrome include 'deepened emotions' such as anger, hostility, and aggression. More recently, psychiatric research has suggested an 'epileptic personality', a complex of traits seen between periods of seizure where the patient is egocentric and displays an explosive impulsivity. Experts say that most likely Kurosawa was a case in point when his 'eccentric behaviors' were witnessed at the Kyoto Toei Studio in December 1968 just before Fox dismissed him as director of Tora! Tora! Tora! In his life, Kurosawa had a strong love of the works by Dostoevsky and Van Gogh. It is quite possible that he had felt an unusual level of compassion and mental affinity with those artists who also were known to have had epilepsy problems.
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The award-winning author talks about Akira Kurosawa and the Tora! Tora! Tora! fiasco
With Tora! Tora! Tora!, producer Darryl F. Zanuck hoped to do for the Pearl Harbor attack what The Longest Day did for the D-Day invasion. To helm the Japanese sequences of the film, he enlisted Akira Kurosawa. The director f...

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TV spot for Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty


Nov 26
// Hubert Vigilla
The early buzz has been extremely positive for Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty, her docudrama about the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden. Many of the early reviews have praised the film for its overall leanness and in...
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Trailer: I Declare War


Aug 24
// Nick Valdez
When I was younger and played outside with my friends, we would always imagine up stories that we should follow. There were so many intricacies to our plot lines that, to this day, I still have no real idea what the hell we ...

NYAFF Review: Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale

Jul 02 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]211115:38508[/embed] Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale (赛德克·巴莱)Director: Wei Te-ShengRating: NRCountry: Taiwan  Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale is based on an uprising known as the Wushe Incident. In the early part of the 20th Century, Japan came to occupy Taiwan. The Wushe area was home to a group known as the Seediqs, of which there were a number of clans. The Japanese took the area over, treated the Seediqs like savages (and referred to them as such), and were generally oppressive towards the natives. In 1930, after an incident involving an officer named Katsuhiko Yoshimura at the wedding of the son of one of the tribal chiefs, things finally came to a head. Soon after, Mona Rudao called upon his own men and men from the other tribes to rise up against the Japanese empire. He asked them to become Seediq Bale (translated as "true men") who will go bravely to the eternal hunting ground across the rainbow bridge and be accepted by their ancestors. All of that is true. In fact, the first thing I did upon finishing Seediq Bale was head over to Wikipedia and see how historically accurate it was. And all of that was true. So the framing narrative of Seediq Bale is a sound one. The general events take place in the film the way they did in real life. And certainly key moments of the film could be inferred from the carnage that covered the countryside. But most of the film is forcibly the work of fiction. As the old saying goes: dead men tell no tales. And there are a lot of dead men. And dead women. And dead children as well. Also animals. I would say that the vast majority of things that have a pulse onscreen at some point in the film stop having that pulse by the time the credits roll. Seriously, a lot of people die. I mentioned decapitations in the introduction, and that's because the only way for a man to become a Seediq Bale would be to decapitate his enemy. Without that blood on their hands, he could not cross the rainbow bridge. This means that Seediqs of all ages pick up their machetes and go to battle, ready to hunt heads. If you couldn't guess, Seediq Bale is a brutal movie. There are all kinds of weapons in use (although straight hand-to-hand fighting never enters the mix), and that goes for both sides. Unlike other "savages," the Seediqs use guns, and they are very adept with them. They use arrows as well, but that's as much for the purpose of stealth as anything else. They do not cling to their old technologies and assume that they are the only way to defeat the Japanese. In fact, none of them has the slightest inclination that they actually could defeat the Japanese. Years before the incident took place, Mona Rudao and other Seediq chiefs were brought to Japan and shown planes and ships and weapons. It was a warning, impressing upon them the power of the Empire and the worthlessness of their own artillery. For years, it was enough to keep them in check, but a wild animal can only stay caged for so long. Mona Rudao is Seediq Bale's protagonist, and the film shows him at two important points in his life. The first is when he becomes a Seediq Bale. He decapitates his first enemy and is given the requisite face tattoos affirming his status. Young Mona Rudao (played by Da Ching) is the son of the chief and the hero of the village. He is set to become the next chief, and his father's death and the immediate consequences are the lead-in to the meat of the story. Chief Mona Rudao (played by Lin Ching-Tai) is far less rash, and he accepts and understands what he is up against. As much as he wants to fight back, he doesn't want to see his entire village be massacred. He's far more mature, but no less dangerous. Although I have no interest in seeing the drastically cut version of Seediq Bale, I'm curious what was removed. I've heard that the kept a lot of the violence and decided to forego much of the character work, and that's a real shame. In that way, it reminds me of Das Boot, where cutting the five hour version in half means removing the moments that made it so interesting. Fighting is all well and good (and Seediq Bale has far more of it than Das Boot), but there needs to be something to counteract it. Seediq Bale isn't (and shouldn't be) a two and a half hour movie about decapitations. It should be a four and a half hour movie about the people who do the decapitations.  Well, maybe a four hour movie. Even though I am generally okay with how long Seediq Bale is, there are definitely some moments that could be cut down or removed entirely. About thirty minutes could be cut out without detriment to the story, and that would have fixed some of the more poorly paced scenes. I can't see how cutting more would work. In fact, most of the ending dragged on for me, and that's probably stuff that was kept anyway. Regardless, the extra time gives the characters more room to grow. Aside from Mona Rudao, the film focuses on a number of other characters from his tribe. There are some interesting characters, and most of them are fleshed out enough that their inevitable deaths are worth mourning. As unpleasant as it is to watch decapitation after decapitation, the horrors of war go far beyond the battlefield, and Wei Te-Sheng and co. understand that and pull no punches. They made a movie that takes full advantage of its impact on the human pyche. The most obvious case of this, and one of the more horrifying things I've seen in a movie in quite some time, comes with a mass suicide. Over a dozen people simultaneously hang themselves, because there's nothing else they can do. The ability for them to simply make nooses with branches or scarves, put the nooses around their necks, and jump is really quite disturbing, and the fact that it probably happened the way the film portrayed it makes things so much worse. To push people that far, to give them no other choice than to collectively kill themselves, is terrible, and it happened. Seediq Bale pulls no punches. When it comes to the battles themselves, Seediq Bale is mostly successful at creating real, tense environments. A lot of it is shot on some kind of location, and the jungles usually look quite nice. Most impressive is the quality of the decapitations, which are easily some of the best I've seen in a movie. Considering how many of them there are, that's a good thing. But it's not all sunshine and ponies. Originally I was going to say "rainbows," but it turns out that rainbows are a big part of the problem. Like a lot of Asian films, Seediq Bale's CGI is really unacceptable in this day and age. There are clearly a lot of practical effects used in an attempt to overcome limitations that they must have understood were there, but some key moments are hampered by some very, very ugly CGI. The worst offenders are the animals and the planes. The film actually opens with a hunt, and the boar they are chasing doesn't look like it's there. At all. The planes are even worse, and the big shot where Japanese fighter planes take off looks like it was hand-animated by a first-year art student. Then there are the green screens. I understand that limited budget means that the quality of the CGI will suffer. That happens, and I guess I can accept that, but I can't think of the last time I've seen green screen work in a movie that really tried. There are key moments which take place against a green screen (several of them involving rainbows), and all of them look awful. Although you don't see the green itself, there's a fuzzy outline against the actors's bodies which leaves no doubt that they are in a soundstage somewhere, and not where it seems like they should be. On the whole, the effect is actually used sparingly, but instead of using it during the visceral fight scenes where the action could have masked its poor quality, it happens during the slow moments. That was a huge mistake. But when all is said and done, I have to say that I liked Seediq Bale. I went in thinking that I would either love it or hate it, simply because of how long is was, but that wasn't the case. I didn't love it, and reflecting upon it I still don't. But I liked it quite a bit. The hardest part was getting myself in the mindset of a four and a half hour movie. It's not something I can just sit down and do, and I think most people are the same way. But as long as it was and as difficult as it was to get over some of the visual failings, there is a lot of really good stuff in this film. It's worth getting yourself in the right mindset for. Go see it, and when you get to the other side of the rainbow bridge, maybe we can get face tattoos together. And by that I mean discuss the movie, because I barely scratched the surface here. [Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale will be playing at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center on July 4th at 6:00 PM. The film will be presented in two parts with a break in between.]
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[For the month of July, we will be covering the New York Asian Film Festival and the (also New York-based) Japan Cuts Film Festival, which together form one of the largest showcases of Asian cinema in the world. For our NYAFF...

Review: My Way

Apr 20 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
My Way (Mai Wei)Kang Je-GyuRelease Date: 4/20/12 (Limited) | 5/4/12 (Expanded)Rating: RCountry: South Korea My Way is best thought of as a series of bizarrely connected scenarios. There are reasons why a Korean marathoner/rickshaw-driver (Jang Dong-Gun) becomes a soldier fighting for the Nazis on D-Day, but they are mostly irrelevant. The moments that get the main characters from A to B to C are either glossed over or ignored entirely, and that's completely fine. It's not a miniseries like Das Boot, so it doesn't have time to really connect the dots. But the film says it's based on true events, so skipping the scenes that could possibly explain how they fit together seems kind of counter-intuitive. Regardless, I didn't care all that much. In fact, for most of My Way, I didn't even think about it. It was only in the final section, where the main characters find themselves on the beaches of Normandy, that I realized how ludicrous the whole thing had become. Up until that point I had been so engrossed in the action and the characters that I hadn't stopped to think about much of anything. My Way takes place during World War II, and it uses its characters's international exploits to show the similarities and differences between the ways different countries fought during that war. Kim Joon-Sik, that rickshaw-driver I mentioned earlier, finds himself in the midst of a riot in Japan after he is unfairly disqualified from an Olympic marathon tryout. He is then sentenced, along with everyone else who participated in the riot, to serve in the Japanese Imperial Army in their fight against the Soviet Union. Eventually, Kim Joon-Sik and a number of other soldiers are captured by the Soviets, forced to work in labor camps, and eventually enlisted to help fight the Nazis after Hitler declares war. After that battle goes poorly, Kim Joon-Sik walks to a German outpost and eventually finds himself fighting the Americans on D-Day.  This means that there is a lot of action, and it's very different, because each faction treats battle very differently. That is one of My Way's greatest strengths. The battles themselves, especially the earlier ones, are probably the best I have ever seen. This was South  The film had used over 16,000 extras (though not all of them were soldiers), over 50,000 bullets, thousands of military uniforms and a generally crazy amount of actual, tangible materials to make the battlefield come alive. What the filmmakers did on a budget of ~$23 million (the largest in Korea to date) puts all American studio films, war-themed or otherwise, to shame. As I mentioned, My Way legitimately shocked me. After some of the more intense deaths, I actually shouted in surprise. I can't think of the last time I did that, and I did it more than a couple of times. Like the man run over by a tank. It was sudden, intense, and incredibly brutal. It's probably the most shocking single moment in the film, but there is a pervasive sense of horror as the battlefield changes. When I said that the different countries had different ways of dealing with war, I really meant it. There are four separate militaries that fight in the film, and all but the Americans are given at least a little bit of time behind the scenes to show their inner workings. My Way takes full advantage of this and uses it to show some very powerful i. Watching Japanese soldiers crawl under tanks and blow themselves up is terrifying, but doesn't even come close to seeing Russians place frost-bitten POWs onto stone beds and load them into fires. The imagery is powerful stuff, and it gives the film a lot of visual weight. I never felt like it was exploiting the horrors of war, though. It felt completely justified and, perhaps, even necessary. Unfortunately, My Way falls apart in its final act. When the Americans arrive, bombers and battleships fill the screen, and the CGI does not work. The explosions and on-ground battles look as good as ever, but the constant shots of ship cannons firing and planes dropping bombs or being shot at make it impossible for the scene to feel credible. This is made worse by the fact that the character-to-character moments lose all impact. Honestly, the final end of the final battle brought to mind the opening of Tropic Thunder. The characters cry and talk about the things they wanted to do when they got home (it's even limb-related, funnily enough). I tried to convince myself that it was meaningful, but it just made me want to laugh. I did appreciate the way the end of the film came full circle, but it was not enough to wash the bad taste from my mouth. Up until the entrance of the Germans, though, My Way's ragtag group has a lot to offer. Their interactions felt very real, and there was some really nice character development. Some of the characters had to make some pretty awful decisions (e.g. hanging a former friend for thievery), and seeing their generally human reactions to those things made them feel much more real and much more emotional. I was never on the verge of tears the way I was with The Front Line, but I definitely found myself invested into the events that were unfolding. And that's the part of the film I want to think about. I want to forget that the Germans ever played more than the part of the enemy. I want to believe that  Kim Joon-Sik and co. all died at the hands of the Nazis. It wouldn't have been a good ending, and I probably would have railed against it, but I wouldn't have had to watch such an incredible film spiral out of control. When I hit the halfway point, I knew that My Way was the best war film I had ever seen. When it ended, I didn't know what to think. It seems as though someone gave up (which would explain the bizarre inconsistencies with color and light between shots) and decided to take a turn towards the generic. The final part barely even feels like it's from the same film. But it is, and I have to acknowledge that. It's not even that the ending is bad, because it's not. Honestly, it's pretty good, but it closes up something truly amazing, and it can't hold its own. Nonetheless, so much of the film is so good that I completely recommend it. That being said, if you leave when a body riddled with bullets begins to fall in slow motion during the Soviet-Nazi battle, I don't think anybody will judge you.
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In case you'd forgotten, war is quite ugly
It's hard to shock me. My time on the internet has done a lot to desensitize me. But if there's one type of movie that should continue to make me feel truly uncomfortable, it's a war film. War is hell, the saying goes, and an...

Losing My Virginity: The Great Escape

Mar 23 // Hubert Vigilla
Prior to seeing The Great Escape, I had no idea that it was based on a true story. It was adapted from the book of the same name by Paul Brickhill. Brickhill was a POW at Stalag Luft III, which was run by the Luftwaffe (the German air force). In his book, Brickhill provides a detailed account of the planning, preparation, and actual mass escape from the Nazi prison camp. Much of the film was fictionalized, however. Some characters were composites of real people, and the Americans (McQueen and James Garner) were given a more prominent role in the film than their real-life counterparts. These inventions don't undermine the actual historical events since the act of adaptation is about transformation. What works as history or a piece of non-fiction doesn't always translate well cinematically, especially when you want to exploit the audacity of the escape plot. In the end, John Sturges made a break-neck, engrossing escape film that stands alongside other classic WWII adventures, like the The Guns of Navarone and Where Eagles Dare. The old line is that they don't make them like they used to, and they really don't make movies like The Great Escape anymore. Even though it's three hours long, it shoots out like a two-hour movie. There are few if any places where The Great Escape slows down. Almost all of our characters get dumped in the high-security camp after the opening credits. We get the situation right quick and up front: all of the best Royal Air Force escapees and a handful of Allied escapees are here in one place -- "All our rotten eggs in one basket" says the camp's commandant. Just 15 minutes in, and we already have our first brazen escape attempt. What it lacks in sophistication it makes up for in enthusiasm. None of these repeat offenders wastes time trying to get the hell out because getting the hell out is what they're best at. The pace really doesn't let up from there to the end. The mastermind of the big escape plan, Roger Bartlett (Sir Richard Attenborough), shows up soon after and right away gets talking about a big breakout: 250 men, major tunneling, with civilian clothes and forged papers for every one of them. A job this ambitious is the work of an inspired tactician whose only goal is to muck things up for the Nazis as best as he can. It's apparent that we're not just watching crafty soldiers. We're watching some of the finest practitioners of WWII escapology. This prison camp to them is just a more complicated straitjacket or milk churn to Houdini. (Fittingly, the Glenn Lovell biography of Sturges is titled Escape Artist.) There's a way out, a spectacular one even, and they will find it. Each member of this all-star cast fills out their specialist roles. Garner's charismatic Hendley helps procure items for fellow prisoners, from snacks to smokes to pickaxes. Every moment he's on screen, I had the Rockford Files theme song honking around in my head. His bunkmate is the timid Blythe played by Donald Pleasence, a specialist in forgeries. There's Danny played by Charles Bronson, a skilled digger whose accent is some goulash of central and eastern Europe; and James Coburn's manufacturer Sedgwick, whose Australian accent is like Dick Van Dyke doing cockney. Attenborough's Bartlett is the brains of the operation. Cool, collected, concerned with the men he's liberating as much as the plot he's hatched. And McQueen's star-making character Hilts? Hilts is the Platonic form of Steve mother f**king McQueen. He gets caught doing his rogue escape attempts and goes into solitary with his baseball and worn out glove. Rather than sulk, he passes the time bouncing his ball off the ground and the wall and catching it with ease; bouncing and catching, bouncing and catching, ca-clug thup, ca-clug thup. He's just waiting to get out so he can try to escape again. You dirty Ratzis aren't breaking him, and most of the camp isn't going to break either. It's this forward-moving, indefatigable fighting spirit that keeps the film speeding along. There is an absolute dedication to the mission exhibited by each of the men. As they dig their escape tunnels, they invent ways of disposing of dirt, they find ways of conning guards, they create diversions and signals. Just when the plan seems to work perfectly, there's a problem that requires creativity, quick thinking, or just plain courage to solve. Every time an obstacle presents itself, we're worried, we intrigued, and we await a moment of temporary relief to the tension only to realize the tension is ongoing and had been the entire time. That's why we're paying attention and that's why three hours can seem like two. We get lost in the zeal of escape rather than the tics of a clock. It's teamwork, it's the human spirit at its best when faced with dire situations, it's rugged masculinity. There's no dilly-dallying, no sob stories, no lengthy talks of returning home. There's no squabbling or pettiness between the prisoners. Home and freedom is on everyone's minds, and instead of talking about it, they get to work trying to make it happen. A little less conversation, a lot more action -- all TCB for the RAF and company. And what's more, the film is funny. There are moments of welcome comedy, whether in Garner's goofy swagger or the few well-placed touches of slapstick. It's that levity that lends the more serious moments of the film extra weight. [embed]208297:37964[/embed] I think if The Great Escape was remade today, the film would be a glum and gritty affair. There'd be an obsession with explicit character arcs, and each individual would have these bland personal dramas play out on screen to the detriment of the escape plot. Hilts would probably talk about his old man in Iowa giving him the glove and ball, and Danny would wistfully mention the old country every few minutes as a tiresome point of comparison, like some ancestor of Yakov Smirnoff -- "In London is one way maybe, but in the old country..." A rivalry would probably be invented between Hilts and Bartlett, with Bartlett always referring to Hilts in the second-person plural: "You Yanks do things rather oddly, if I do say." Blythe would try to catch a pet bird. I just picture awful affectations added to characters because some producer or studio hack wouldn't believe enough in the strength of the material. They'd want to add meaningless garnish to the plate until the lean yet satisfying meal was lost. None of those things would add texture to the film. You'd wind up with a different movie -- probably more serious verging on grim, probably a lot more cliché, and nowhere near as good. The score wouldn't be worth whistling, and you know they'd foul up the powerful simplicity of the ending. They don't make them like this anymore -- I don't expect a studio would have the brains to get out of the way and let it happen. Mostly, though, you'd lose the personality of the stars, and that's what really drives The Great Escape. Sturges was a great director of action pictures, and where he excels here (like in The Magnificent Seven) is letting the actors be themselves. And that's one of the most amazing things about The Great Escape: everyone gets to be who they are, and yet everyone's still part of the team. No scene stealing, no apparent egos in conflict. It's just a job to get done, and they do it, and when they do it, they've got that steely, concentrated look just like McQueen on the box art -- defiant, hard at work; tireless, like Houdini at the buckles and clasps: the look of the escape artist, already liberated.
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[Losing My Virginity articles are reviews written by someone who still hasn't seen an incredibly popular movie after all these years. LMV reviews are interesting in that they can offer the perspective of a person who's untain...

Review: The Front Line

Jan 26 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]206436:37679[/embed] The Front Line (Gojijeon)Director: Jang HunRelease Date: Jan 20, 2012 (Limited)Country: South Korea I do not know if the events of The Front Line are an accurate representation of the final days leading to the end of the Korean War. There are scenes in the film that seem too convenient. The characters talk about a sniper known as "Two Seconds," someone stands out in the open, and is immediately shot (by the sniper). Those are the moments that seem unrealistic. They remind the viewer that it is a film and not a documentary. However, even in those staged situations, the actions and reactions of the characters come across as very natural. Fortunately, the realism of the characters keeps The Front Line from feeling fake or forced. There is one oddity I have noticed in several South Korean films, though. For whatever reason, English speakers never sound natural. It was true in Park Chan-wook's Joint Security Area 10 years ago, and it's true here. Fortunately, the English dialogue is minimal (and relegated only to the opening scene). I would like to know what's going on here, though.  The comparisons with JSA do not stop there, because there is a significant subplot regarding the "sharing" of goods between some North and South Korean soldiers. This sort of exchange is certainly less direct than in Chan-wook's film (which is very good, so see it if you haven't), but it's very reminiscent of it. I should note that The Front Line's main actor (Shin Ha-kyun) also plays a major role in JSA. Make of that what you will. I mentioned earlier that I thought the war scenes were very impressive, and that I was kind of surprised. I feel like there is no type of film that is as much of a logistical nightmare as a war film. I can't even imagine the work that must go into setting up dozens (if not hundreds) of explosions, hundreds of actors, gallons of blood and gore, and whatever else the action needs. So it didn't really surprise me when none of the deaths in Downfall really looked all that legitimate. That problem does not exist in The Front Line. Sure, there were a few times where it wasn't quite clear how a soldier was killed, but maybe I just missed them. War is chaotic, and you're not going to notice every single squib. Given the immense bodycount though, it's incredibly impressive how well Jang Hun and company pulled it off. I also said that I was on the verge of tears. I did not cry, but my eyes were watering a bit during one of the more emotional moments. None of the characters are perfect, not by a long shot, and the complexity of the characters is what makes everything fit together. There's the officer who was forced to shoot down some of his own men in order to save others, the defector from North Korea who had won a badge from an interim government in 1941, the 17-year-old kid who sings songs for the soldiers to raise morale. Even when they say generic things like, "War is hell," it takes on an entirely different meaning given their situations. These characters make The Front Line into something that goes well beyond something that even most dramas can accomplish. It was kind of shocking to me, but when things got tough, even my cold, black heart was touched a little bit. The Front Line is an excellent film. It may not be the best film about war I have ever seen, but I can't think of a recent one that has done it better. It may not be the best Korean film I have ever seen either, but that says almost nothing about its quality. You probably know nothing about the Korean War and will go in just as blindly as I did. You may hate the idea of war and refuse to see it on principle. That would be a mistake. You don't need to be horrified by images of war. Everyone has seen enough of it to know that it's hell. But The Front Line does something different. These soldiers have done horrible things. Their actions, whether justified or not, do not make them sympathetic characters. This isn't a patriotic movie which ends with some kind of victory, moral or otherwise. It is something far deeper and far more affecting. Even when the situations are clearly staged, the characters remain honest and grounded. Even the best looking war movie is only as good as its characters, and The Front Line has those in spades.
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Korea's 2011 Oscar entry really should have won
There are only two films about war that have brought me to the verge of tears. The first is more the implication of war, and that would be Stephen Spielberg's incredible Schindler's List. The second is a war film mo...

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Arnold Schwarzenegger's Black Sands becomes Black Sunday


Dec 29
// Jamie R Stone
Arnold is looking to revive his acting career in any way he can, it seems, as he's taking on the most random roles ever. I mean, if Arnold is desperate for roles, you know the economy's in trouble. Last we heard he was starri...
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Trailer: Into the White


Dec 02
// Geoff Henao
Into the White is a World War II film about two groups of soldiers from England and Germany, respectively. After they shoot each other down, they find themselves sharing a Norwegian cabin. In order to survive the harsh ...
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Remember way back to last month when we brought you news of Roger Corman's interest in working on Sharktopus 2? Well, there was more to that interview (which will finally be posted some time next week), and he told me ab...

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Trailer: Red Tails


Nov 10
// Alex Katz
I'm starting to come around on Red Tails. I haven't been impressed by what we've seen so far, but this trailer makes it look like a fairly thrilling tale. There's not nearly enough World War 2 fighter pilot movies, especiall...
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Trailer: In The Land of Blood & Honey


Oct 27
// Liz Rugg
In this trailer for Angelina Jolie's directorial debut, In The Land of Blood & Honey, there is plenty of romance and gunfire. The story of the movie is based around a "Serbian rape camp administrator and one of his Bosni...
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Trailer: Red Tails


Oct 19
// Liz Rugg
  A new trailer for Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox's historical World War II drama has been released online. Red Tails follows the story of the "intrepid young airmen" of the then-experimental Tuskegee piloting program,...
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Trailer: Homecoming


Oct 07
// Liz Rugg
In Homecoming, Brea Grant stars as a young female soldier who has returned home from her tour of duty to her old life, old friends and old family. She seems to be having a bit of trouble adjusting to the changes of lifestyle...
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Trailer: Red Tails


Aug 17
// Matthew Razak
Man, dog fight movies are awesome. The last trailer for Red Tails definitely piqued my interest, but its focus on the film's dramatic side left me wondering how well they were going to tackle one of film's greatest tradition...
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Zack Snyder may direct an Afghanistan war thriller


Aug 02
// Alex Katz
At this point, I'm fairly sure Zack Snyder exists to punish me for some sin in a past life. That, or just the usual "God's all hatin' on the Jew folk" we've been dealing with for a few thousand years. Anyway, Zack Snyder may ...
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Trailer: War Horse


Jun 29
// Matthew Razak
Sometimes a movie's title just seems a little too obvious. War Horse is one of those movies. It's a movie about a horse that goes to war and War Horse was the most creative thing they could come up with? Why not branch out w...
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Hurt Locker filmmakers working on Osama Bin Laden film


May 04
// Tom Fronczak
A few nights ago we were filled with a wide range of emotions upon hearing that Osama Bin Laden was dead. Even in the safety of our own homes the adrenaline was easily noticed, so it's hard to imagine what it must have felt l...
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Trailer: Armadillo


Apr 08
// Maxwell Roahrig
In the past two or three years, there have been some great war documentaries to come out (Restrepo comes to mind). But Armadillo is a beast to its own. Filmed over the course of a six month tour of duty in 2009, the ...
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Flixist Podcast, Ep 10: LizRugg gives us VD...questions


Feb 13
// Adam Dork
Happy Valentine's Day people! This is a special episode of our podcast, Get Your Flix, which caters to the romantic sentiment that is supposed to be spread around today, thanks to one of our lovely listeners, LizRug...
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There Be Dragons trailer lies, has no dragons


Jan 25
// Tom Fronczak
By looking at the header picture above you probably wouldn't think this movie was about some secret religious cult that smells like Dan Brown's garbage bin. Then the trailer -- which I've embedded after the break -- ditches ...

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