Posts Tagged Sienna Miller

“American Sniper” — Movie Review

The film, “American Sniper” made me deeply uncomfortable.  It is perhaps one of the most honest depictions of the Iraq war and perhaps of the uncertainty and trauma of any war.    Navy SEAL Chris Kyle had an uncanny ability to spot and shoot his target with pinpoint accuracy.  His mission was to protect his “brothers-in-arms” who were going door to door, capturing or killing insurgents, and collecting huge caches of arms.  Kyle saved countless American lives, but he was also a prime target of insurgents.

Security overwatch

Security overwatch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Despite serving in most harrowing, nerve wracking, and violent situations, Kyle went back, again and again; he served a total of 4 tours of duty in Iraq.  Unlike some of his comrades, for a very long time, Kyle was not disillusioned and was not questioning the usefulness and the lofty vision of the war in Iraq.  Yet, like others, after every tour of duty, Kyle had a hard time adjusting to civilian life and he yearned to go back and “be there” for the soldiers who counted on him.  After the 4th tour of duty, Kyle finally seemed to have had enough of war but was having even a tougher challenge adjusting to civilian life at home.

Performance of Bradley Cooper as Kyle is flawless.  Sienna Miller as Kyle’s wife also gives a riveting performance.  This movie is clearly Director Clint Eastwood’s  masterstroke.  The movie made me so uncomfortable that I wanted to leave.  Another movie in recent memory that had similar effect on me was “12 Years, A Slave”.   The fact did not escape me that if I just wanted “it” to end, if I felt traumatized watching the movies, then how intensely traumatizing the experience must be for the people living “it”.  For many, the effects of trauma of being in a war, continue to wreak havoc and take a toll on them and their families, for years to come.

American Sniper is creating a stir about futility of this war and I won’t dwell on it more here, except to say that wars are ugly.  As I have previously said in my review of Sue Diaz’s book, also based on true events surrounding her son, Seargent Roman Diaz serving in the Iraq war,  “Minefields of the Heart”, —  Wars impact families, relationships, the very fabric of our society, on a scale so large, create craters of anguish so deep, that very little might justify being engaged in one and that little ought to be immensely carefully considered.  On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being excellent, I rate this movie 4.7.

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“Foxcatcher” – Movie Review

The movie directed by Bennett Miller, from a script written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman, is based on actual grim events, surrounding the story of eccentric multi-millionaire John du Pont’s life.  Award winning and nominated cast includes Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller, and Vanessa Redgrave.

Although painfully slow in the beginning, the movie slowly builds a rhythmic air of suspense.  John du Pont (Carell) is desperate to gain the respect of his stern, disapproving mother and begins coaching an olympics-worthy team of wrestlers.  Among his early recruits is Mark Schultz (Tatum), a former Olympian, going through a rough time and living in circumstances of dire poverty.  For du Pont, as may be the case with SOME super wealthy people, riches are not enough, he wants his team to win and he seeks to get immortalized in history.




Du Pont wants to bring in Mark’s brother, Dave Schultz (Ruffalo) to coach his team, but Dave refuses to uproot his family and join him.  At first, it is Mark who joins du Pont on his estate and becomes his new “best friend”.  Underneath immense wealth, Du Pont’s is a life of loneliness and despair and possibly of extreme ups and downs, resulting from his mental illness.  Du Pont buys his friend, expensive things, also lures him into his drug habits, and confides to Mark that while growing up, his only best friend was the son of his mother’s chauffeur and when he turned 16, he found out “my mother was paying him to be my friend”.

Ultimately, du Pont does manage to lure Dave to come and work at Foxcatcher Farm.  Carrel’s performance is so low key crazy-like, that a sense of dread is already beginning to seep in the film and you almost hope that something would make Dave leave du Pont.  At this point, Mark is already disappointed, has fallen out with du Pont, and leaves the Foxcatcher farm.

When the violence comes, even though we know the events as they unfolded, it makes you feel incredibly sad, not only because there is no reason for it and it is totally incomprehensible, but deeply loving, loyal family man is the last person you want to see being hurt.  This is also a story of deep brotherly love.  Upon seeing the movie, Mark Schultz recalled that when he first received the news of his brother’s death, miles away, he trashed his office in anger and spent weeks in mourning for his brother.

The film struck a chord for me because I have an experience with highly eccentric person, in my multi-generational, extended family network.  The tragedy is that he is immensely wealthy, and therefore gets away with incredible number of insane actions that ordinarily people would not get away with.  It seems, society gives a very long rope to someone with wealth and power at their disposal, to behave crazy, ruthless, mean, mad, and sometimes to do things that are immoral or illegal.

Unfortunately, the movie misses an opportunity to invoke any ideas beyond portraying real-life events.  Especially given that this story had extremely lethal combination of immense wealth and slow burning mild insanity, along with Mark du Pont’s relationship with political extremists, it would have provided a perfect platform for further exploration.  It is nevertheless a fascinating story with excellent acting, and based on my rating of 1 to 5 with 5 being excellent, I rate the movie as 4.6.

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