Tuesday, June 29, 2010

DVD Reviews

This Polish made drama revolves around the Katyn massacre where 20,000 Polish military officers were murdered by the invading Soviets in 1940. The film focuses less on the military aspects of the event and more on those who were left behind and how they dealt with the tragedy, as well as the lies created about the massacre.

Sherlock Holmes:
I always enjoy watching the versatile Robert Downey work. Here he plays the literary detective figure in an entertaining, action filled romp.

Auschwitz- Inside the Nazi State:
This 4.5 hour BBC documentary takes a detailed, comprehensive look at the famous concentration/death camp from its initial planning stages right up and beyond its liberation. This extremely thorough program impresses me with the fact that the state performs only one task efficiently- killing.

American Radical- The Trials of Norman Finkelstein:
An inspiring documentary examining the life and work of the author and professor who is one of the leading Jewish critics of the Israeli state. He takes on all critics, despite their sometime hateful rebukes. I always enjoy listening to those who gracefully and courageously challenge the conventional wisdom.

The Hurt Locker:
Shot documentary style (which is very appropriate for a movie about war), this drama follows the exploits of a US Army explosive ordnance disposal team in Iraq. The issue of the rightness or wrongness of war is not covered in exchanges between the characters. Their focus is how to stay alive and sane in a chaotic, deadly, and unpredictable situation. It’s interesting that the leading roles are played by relative unknowns while more well known actors play the minor roles.

A Serious Man:
The latest by my favorite movie makers, The Coen brothers. Although I wouldn’t rate this work as one of their best, it has all the quirkiness and wonderful, subtle humor typical of their work. This “very Jewish” film revolves around the life of a Jewish professor who suffers one setback after another in his personal and professional life, inspiring him to seek answers about life’s purpose.

Crazy Heart:
Jeff Bridges shows he’s deserving of his Oscar. A well written and acted drama about a middle aged country singer/songwriter whose career is going nowhere. I get the feeling that Bridges has been waiting to play this kind of role his whole career. He seems totally involved in it. His singing performances combine the swagger of Waylon Jennings and the folksy delivery of Guy Clark. An excellent story from start to finish.

Technically, this movie is brilliant at showing what is possible with movie making. But it also has a well developed story line that makes sense without being entirely predictable. Technical wizardly is useless without a solid story to be told. This one doesn’t disappoint. A very entertaining underdog movie that also includes a few life lessons.

Woody Harrelson plays a mentally challenged man who reinvents himself as a super hero, fighting crime. His role is both hilarious and moving, particularly when you discover his character’s personal history and underlying motivation. Harrelson shines in his role, as do several other actors in this sweet, little gem.

The Messenger:
Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster play Army notification officers whose job is notifying next of kin of their loved one’s death. The two characters have differing opinions on how to approach such a difficult assignment- one by the book and the other not.

Inglorious Basterds:
Quentin Tarantino gives his take on WWII. Brad Pitt leads a group of Jewish Allied soldiers, dropped behind enemy lines in Nazi occupied France. Pitt’s character is hilarious but he’s almost overshadowed by the hysterically inspired performance of Christoph Waltz as the Jew Hunter.

The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall:
This is a dramatization of the 2003 shooting of British peace activist Thomas Hurndall by IDF forces in Gaza, while he was attempting to rescue children during a shooting. The film focuses on the courageous investigation done by his family to seek answers and justice. A good look at the arrogance, stonewalling, and whitewashing of the facts that is typical of the Israeli state. My only complaint is we get little personal background on Mr. Hurndall.

Martin Scorsese Presents: The Blues- A Musical Journey:
This 7-disc series produced by Scorsese explores the history and character of the blues from the viewpoint of seven different directors. A true visual and musical treat. No blues fan, or anyone interested in learning more about this uniquely American art form, should miss viewing this series.

Five Minutes of Heaven:
Liam Neeson is a murderer in violence torn, 1975 Northern Ireland who attempts a reconciliation with his victim’s younger brother (James Nesbitt), 33 years later. An intense, well acted look at the powerful and sometime debilitating emotions of guilt and revenge and that hard to reach goal of forgiveness.

A plantation owner in the Ante-bellum south purchases a slave without the knowledge that he knows how to read. He begins to teach a precocious, young girl her letters which leads to all sortsof disruption.

Edge of Darkness:
And darkness is in ample supply with Mel Gibson at his gritty best. He plays a Boston police detective looking to find why his daughter is murdered and lets nothing stand in his way. The movie brings up a very scary, false flag scenario that the US state may very well use in the future.

The Obama Deception:
The Alex Jones gang outlines how The Magic Negro is just another well marketed puppet of the ruling elites. The documentary also points out his campaign lies and the continuance and even escalation of Bush’s criminal policies.


Don Emmerich said...

Interesting to hear your thoughts on The Hurt Locker. I'd heard from someone (I think over at LewRockwell) that it was a pro-war film. But I'll definitely take your recommendation and check it out. Thanks.

Enlightened Rogue said...

I had heard that view as well. But I got the impression from watching that it was pro-war only because it wasn’t clearly anti-war. Some of the characters are certainly pro-war, just as some, if not most, soldiers are. But the film also graphically illustrates the absurdity and chaos of war and the mental toll on its participants.