Saturday, May 27, 2017

But I Digress... Never Forgotten - Honoring Memorial Day

By Cat

Memorial Day is always something bittersweet for me. It’s fun for the extra day off to spend with family and friends, but it’s also a punch to the feels. That’s OK, though – it’s a day for remembering some pretty sobering stuff – all those that have passed on whom have served our country in the Armed Forces. Some gave all in military conflict, some training exercises gone awry, and some survived to return home. 

This won’t be a political soapbox. Put politics aside. You can hate war and support those whom have chosen to serve at the same time. This is about them, after all. 

I have many relatives that have served in one branch of the military or another, and quite a few friends and acquaintances as well.  My heart hurts for the families and those that loved service members whom couldn’t make it home; because I don’t know what I would have done without my grandfathers in my life. Both my maternal and paternal grandfathers were World War II veterans, and both have now passed on. This holiday brings them to the forefront of my thoughts even more than usual. I miss them every day. 

We’ll get to that. You came here for the movies, right? 

This time around, I narrowed my list down to a Top Ten featuring military movies. This is by no means an exhaustive list of ‘the best of’ this genre. There are so many that it was very hard to choose. If you’re looking for a film to commemorate the day, or to take a break from the BBQ’s and other festivities, maybe check one of these out! If you're in the mood for a more vintage movie that isn't on my list, check out the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) cable channel. They're running a 72-hour Memorial Day movie marathon right now. (Check your local listings for the lineup.)

No 'family friendly' movies this time around, I'm afraid. All of the movies in this list are Rated R - mostly due to graphic violence inherent to war movies. There's also some adult content sprinkled in.

This movie selection is presented to you without commentary as a small 'moment of silence.'

10) Black Hawk Down (2001)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), iTunes, Vudu, Xfinity Subscription
Director: Ridley Scott
Actors: Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Tom Sizemore, Eric Bana, William Fichtner, Ewen Bremner, Sam Shepard, Gabriel Casseus
Genre: Drama, History, War
Rated: R
More Information Here.

Blurb: 160 elite U.S. soldiers drop into Somalia to capture two top lieutenants of a renegade warlord and find themselves in a desperate battle with a large force of heavily-armed Somalis.

9) MASH (1970)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, Vudu, Xfinity Subscription, HBOGo
Director: Robert Altman
Actors: Donald Sutherland, Elliott Gould, Sally Kellerman, Tom Skerritt, Robert Duvall, Jo Ann Pflug, Rene Auberjonois, Roger Bowen
Genre: Comedy, Drama, War
Rated: R
More Information Here.

Blurb: The staff of a Korean War field hospital use humor and high jinks to keep their sanity in the face of the horror of war.

8) The Great Escape (1963) 

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), iTunes, Vudu, Xfinity Subscription
Director: John Sturges
Actors: Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, James Donald, Donald Pleasence, James Coburn, David McCallum
Genre: War, Adventure, Drama, History
Rated: Unrated
More Information Here.

Blurb: Allied prisoners of war plan for several hundred of their number to escape from a German camp during World War II.

7) The Wall (2017)

Viewing Options: Currently in Theaters (Released 5/12/2017)
Director: Doug Liman
Actors: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, John Cena, Spencer Thomas, Laith Nakli
Genre: War, Drama, Thriller
Rated: R
More Information Here.

Blurb: Two American Soldiers are trapped by a lethal sniper, with only an unsteady wall between them.


6) Platoon (1986)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), iTunes, Vudu, Xfinity Subscription (Cinemax)
Director: Oliver Stone
Actors: Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Charlie Sheen, Forest Whitaker, Francesco Quinn, John C. McGinley, Richard Edson, Kevin Dillon
Genre: Drama, War
Rated: R
More Information Here.

Blurb: A young recruit in Vietnam faces a moral crisis when confronted with the horrors of war and the duality of man.

5) Flags of Our Fathers (2006)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), iTunes, BestBuy CinemaNow, Vudu
Director: Clint Eastwood
Actors: Ryan Phillippe, Jesse Bradford, Adam Beach, John Benjamin Hickey, John Slattery, Barry Pepper, Jamie Bell, Paul Walker
Genre: Drama, History, War
Rated: R
More Information Here.

Blurb: The life stories of the six men who raised the flag at the Battle of Iwo Jima, a turning point in World War II.

4) Fury (2014)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), iTunes, BestBuy CinemaNow, Vudu, Xfinity Subscription
Director: David Ayer
Actors: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal, Jason Isaacs, Brad William Henke, Jim Parrack
Genre: Action, Drama, War
Rated: R
More Information Here.

Blurb: A grizzled tank commander makes tough decisions as he and his crew fight their way across Germany in April, 1945.


3) Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), iTunes, Vudu, Crackle
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Actors: Matthew Modine, Adam Baldwin, Vincent D'Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey, Dorian Harewood, Arliss Howard, Kevyn Major Howard, Ed O'Ross
Genre: Drama, War
Rated: R
More Information Here.

Blurb: A pragmatic U.S. Marine observes the dehumanizing effects the Vietnam War has on his fellow recruits from their brutal boot camp training to the bloody street fighting in Hue.


2) Good Morning Vietnam (1987)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), iTunes, Vudu, Xfinity Subscription (Cinemax)
Director: Barry Levinson
Actors: Robin Williams, Forest Whitaker, Tung Thanh Tran, Chintara Sukapatana, Bruno Kirby, Robert Wuhl, J.T. Walsh, Noble Willingham
Genre: Biography, Comedy, Drama, War
Rated: R
More Information Here.

Blurb: In 1965, an unorthodox and irreverent DJ named Adrian Cronauer begins to shake up things when he is assigned to the U.S. Armed Services radio station in Vietnam.

1) Hacksaw Ridge (2016) 

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), iTunes, Vudu
Director: Mel Gibson
Actors: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Teresa Palmer, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths, Vince Vaughn, Richard Roxburgh
Genre: Biography, Drama, History, War
Rated: R
More Information Here.

Blurb: WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people, and becomes the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot.

Today, I plan on pulling my grandfather’s flag out to fly proudly for the holiday. He made sure it was prominently on display for every patriotic holiday, and I try to carry on that tradition. (Though, I also have a flag mounted at the back of my house that stays flying every day.) We’re going to BBQ on Sunday and while my thoughts will mostly be with friends, food, and fun; my heart will be with those this holiday is about – specifically three people that have touched my life profoundly. 

I lost my maternal grandfather in 2001 – a couple days before my birthday, and well before September 11th. I am thankful he didn’t see that. It would have broken his heart. He was a retired Army Major whom returned from war, after finding a landmine the hard way in Germany, and became a teacher. His last position teaching chemistry at a local high school lasted 25 years. I run into his students everywhere. They’ve even been some of my doctors, teachers, and summer camp directors… all with stories to tell of their hard-case teacher, The Major.

He didn’t talk about his service much. I did get to hear the tale a few times, though, about his final campaign. He believed in leading by example, and it saved his life. A box of supplies he was carrying buffered the mine blast that would have otherwise killed him. Fate smiled on him when a skilled doctor recognized him and insisted on saving his legs. He spent a long time in hospitals recovering, but he was able to walk again. I remember that I was fascinated by the frame he had at the end of his bed that kept the covers off of his feet – and that was why. Of course, when I was little it was because of his ‘funny toes.’ There were so many more that weren’t so fortunate.

My paternal grandfather also served in World War II in the Army, was wounded and received a Purple Heart. Unfortunately, I never spoke with him about his service. He was the strong silent type that never really talked about that sort of thing. Hanging out with Gran was often companionable silence while reading together, watching something on TV, or loving on any of the adorable menagerie of critters that populated his home. We’re approaching one year since he passed last June. I miss his joking grumbles about forgetting to lock the door when I came to visit. (I swear my sense of humor is hereditary.)  

Last, but not least, this holiday is remembering a buddy of mine from high school. We weren’t super close, and weren’t in each other’s personal circles per se – but he made an impact on me all the same. I was devastated to learn of the downing of the chopper carrying SEAL Team 7 in Afghanistan in August 2011. Lt. Commander Jonas Kelsall was among the SEALS lost in the crash. He was more than the attractive, popular, motorcycle-riding cool guy at school. He was kind, intelligent, funny, and he knew what he wanted to do with his life and pursued that dream with success. I remember all the times he talked about wanting to be a SEAL – and he did it! His wife set up a memorial fund in his honor to help both the families of his teammates and to keep his ideals alive by paying it forward as a scholarship fund for deserving youth. 

Whatever you do this holiday weekend, and for whatever cause you celebrate – we hope you have a fun and safe holiday. We honor those that have fallen the best by living life to the fullest in enjoyment of the freedoms they sacrificed so much to preserve.

But I Digress... is a weekly column for that can't be pinned down to just one thing. It's Cat's celebration of tangents, random references, and general fan geekdom that both intertwines with, revolves around, and diverges from our movie-review core. In homage to the beloved Brit comedians, we want to bring you something completely different!

Friday, May 26, 2017

A Love in Times of Selfies (2014) - Foreign Film Friday

Number Rolled: 27
Movie Name/Year: A Love in Times of Selfies (2014)
Tagline: None
Genre: Romance, Comedy, Drama
Length: 116 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: None Listed
Producer: Victoria Aizenstat, Claudio Corbelli, Diego Djeredjian, Jose Paquez, Luis Penna, Fernando Sokolowicz
Director: Emilio Tamer, Frederico Finkielstain
Writer: Emilio Tamer
Actors: Carlos Bala, Roberto Benemio, Graciela Borges, Luis Rubio, Manuel Wirzt, Martin Bossi, Maria Zamarbide, Roberto Carnaghi, Beto Casella, Jorge Crivelli, Ari Paluch, Marcelo Polino
Stunt Doubles: None

Blurb from Netflix: Comedy teacher Lucas falls for student Guadalupe, a driven high-tech executive, but their clashing tempers and ideologies threaten to keep them apart.

Selina’s Point of View:
I didn’t hate the love story here, but I found the film painful to watch.

Almost everything felt entirely over or under acted. On top of that, the film was roughly a half hour to forty-five minutes longer than it should have been. I feel like I’ve been sitting here staring at my screen for a life-time.

There wasn’t anything wrong with the characters, not really. They weren’t shallow or lacking, I got what they were trying to portray and why, but I just think it could have been done better.

For all intents and purposes, A Love in Times of Selfies was your basic bitch of romance comedies. It didn’t matter that it was foreign. It didn’t matter that it was almost as long as a fantasy film. It didn’t matter that the majority of the script was roughly the biggest pile of bullshit. It was just a basic rom-com.

If it’d been English and cast with people like Hugh Grant (Extreme Measures, Sense and Sensibility, Nine Months) and Julia Roberts (Notting Hill, I Love Trouble, Pretty Woman), I’d have sworn we went back in time to the 90s. Nothing would have felt out of place at all with it.

I did kind of like the ending. It left plenty of room for debate and discussion.

Although it wasn’t all bad, I have very little interest in seeing this movie again.

Cat’s Point of View:
I am a little conflicted about this movie. There were parts that I adored, but unfortunately there were also parts that weren’t as successful in connecting with me.

I think one of the biggest flaws here was the film’s length. Netflix shows that it’s just shy of two hours long. It felt like at least twice that.

The subtitles, at least, weren’t so much of an issue. I wish that they would have translated the lyrics of some pieces from the soundtrack; but overall, they were pretty good. The text was in a contrasting yellow and was paced fairly well. There were a few hiccups now and again, but if anyone fails to understand this movie – it won’t be because the text failed to deliver.

IMDb labels this as a comedy. I found it somewhere between rom-com and dramedy. It wasn’t quite either, in spite of focusing on a comedian and how he and his peer group navigate love. All told, the movie was unremarkable and the chances are very slim that I would ever watch it again.

Speech Available: Spanish
Subtitles Available: English, Spanish

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore - None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 5.2/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating2/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating2.5/5

Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: R

Movie Trailer: