War movies have had a bad habit over the years of putting extreme political views ahead of actually telling a story. Thankfully, we have a director like Kathryn Bigelow who can put the blinders on, and give us something refreshing, something that seems nearly impossible: a film about a modern war that is not top-heavy with political preaching and agendas. Zero Dark Thirty is not a great movie, and certainly not worth all the hype surrounding it. I would render a guess that if this film had a fictitious plot, or was about a manhunt of someone of a lesser caliber of evil, it would have been panned by critics before reaching a slightly positive edge. Unlike The Hurt Locker, this is not an action movie, nor is it a “war” movie in the strict sense, though I have loosely labeled it as such earlier, because it is difficult to find another moniker for it. This is a film that is effective in telling the story of the ten-year long hunt for Osama Bin Laden. It is nothing more, nothing less. There is hardly anything artistic about this film except the way it sticks to a narrative, almost documentary flow, jumping from person to person, event to event. While parts of it were entertaining (such as the final “kill” scene and all of its deliberately paced build-up), I must admit that the scope of this film was almost too big for its own good. Cramming ten years of information, facts, statistics, and repetitive location settings begins to make your head spin, though it never gets entirely too much to handle. Perhaps this would have worked better as a two or three part HBO mini-series.
Ah, the wonders of Hollywood: Billy Campbell goes from playing a stubborn farmer diametrically opposed to Abraham Lincoln in the soon-to-be-released Copperhead, to portraying the president himself, in the upcoming television film, Killing Lincoln, airing on National Geographic next month, based on a book by Bill O’Reilly. This will serve as the network’s first ever scripted drama, while there will be some narration, provided by Tom Hanks. Though I have only seen the trailer, released yesterday, I must say that my hopes now are a little bit higher than they were when this project was first announced, mainly because the same producer (Ridley Scott) and director (Adrian Moat) gave us that brutally awful Gettysburg documentary for the History Channel last year. I shuddered to think at the same duo handling another portion of American history. However, after reading the script (which was current at the time I read it) several months ago, and because Nat-Geo is still reputable (at least more so than the other network), I will be willing to give this a shot, and them the benefit of the doubt.
Good afternoon, everyone! Just wanted to share this quick post with you, which is something that Ron Maxwell, the director of Copperhead, wrote on his Facebook this afternoon. Recognizing the importance of social media and word-of-mouth when it comes to publicity with films and other entertainment mediums, this is a message regarding what YOU can do to help the success of his upcoming film, slated for a summer release. If you love American history, film, and when the two meet, please help spread the word, by telling friends who are also interested in the subject, and even sharing the links of the official website (which includes my official blog of the film), the production’s Facebook and Twitter pages, and this blog as well. Together, as students of history, we can accomplish something. I’ll leave Ron to tell the rest:
We are a bloodthirsty race. We crave it. It seems we need our daily dose of on-screen violence, blood, and gore in order to survive. There is a reason why Roman emperors and the senate referred to their people in ancient times as “the mob”. Give them what they want, and they will adore you. Take it away, and they will be the death of you. The human race has not changed so much over the last few thousand years—our means of satisfying our blood lust have merely changed. We went from gladiatorial games, torture, and mass-executions, to now having them simulated with movies and video games because to witness such events for real would be, albeit very hypocritical, uncivilized and barbaric. We are a race that is very easily manipulated and also very easily mystified when it comes to violence. We are a world of hypocrites and fools. More specifically, in America, we are a nation of people so righteous and caring that we quickly shield our children from movies with graphic nudity or sexuality, yet say, “Oh, it’s only violence and language. Nothing they haven’t seen or heard before!” when it comes to a film series like Saw, which only a sadist could truly enjoy, and more recently, Django Unchained, which offers us 110 utterances of the N-word. If what I am saying is true, and that all you have to do is present us with a film full of gratuitous violence and hard language for it to be a commercial success, then Quentin Tarantino is the undisputed master of cinema.
Fans of In Search of… have been through a whirlwind of emotions over the years. First, there was the realization that the series would never get a release, the feelings of dejection after hundreds of letters and emails sent by fans to various companies were rejected without much explanation, then the happiness of a few months ago when it was announced that Visual Entertainment Inc. would be releasing the series, and finally, the puzzlement when Amazon pulled the product from their website for seemingly no reason at all just days before the big shipping date. Well, after all of that, the highly anticipated 21-disc box set of the hit paranormal/mystery documentary series that ran from 1976-1982, hosted and narrated by Leonard Nimoy, finally started to ship out last week, and like many fans, I got mine for Christmas. I did not know what to expect from V.E.I since I had never purchased a product of theirs and am always skeptical of these companies that mass-produce DVDs of old television shows. More often than not, releases are nothing but a rush-job capitalizing on the wants of die-hard fans, without paying much attention to detail or quality. Thankfully, though, due to a release of this magnitude, V.E.I stepped up to the plate with a very pleasing In Search Of… box set.
Lost in all the hype surrounding Abraham Lincoln is a film scheduled to be released next year, produced by the legendary Terence Malick and to be directed by rookie A.J Edwards, who has worked with Malick in various capacities on some of his most recent films, The Tree of Life and To the Wonder. This film is going to be quite different from what we have seen over the last year or so, in that it will tackle Lincoln’s early years as a lawyer and all the influences in his life that turned him into the man that became president. Wes Bentley will be in the role of Lincoln’s first teacher, while Diane Kruger and Jason Clarke will play his parents. As for the actor who will be playing our 16th president, it is still a mystery. For a film that is in post-production, very few details have been released and we know nothing intricate of the storyline except what I posted above. When I started typing this, I did not realize it would become one of those, “All I have to say is that I have nothing to say” posts, but at least the information is getting out there, as we try to investigate further. Stay tuned for more…I hope.
You can visit their IMDb page here.
I had not seen a new Mel Gibson film since he went off the deep end a few years ago, but because I was such a big fan of his, I could not pass up the $7.50 Blu-Ray offer at Wal-Mart for his latest flick, the action-packed Get the Gringo. Very rarely do I buy movies that I have never seen, but this was well worth the risk as I found myself enjoying it from start to finish. Before I get into a summary of the film, let’s just say that this seemed like an 80′s action movie, meaning it was completely unrealistic in premise, yet entertaining as all hell. If I had to make a comparison, I would say it was like Payback meets Lethal Weapon meets Taken, considering the different plot twists and level of violence present. It is hard to believe this was a straight-to-video release in the United States, given the extremely high production value and $20 million budget that had the special effects of a present-day Hollywood blockbuster. The fact that this movie is so little-known and un-advertised is proof positive at how far down Mel Gibson’s career has fallen due to his outbursts and tirades over the years. Had he been in good standing with Hollywood, and had production companies and distributors not been afraid to touch any of his products, this would have easily been smash hit, no doubt pulling in at least $100 million. But alas, here we are, and even all these years later, Gibson’s penance in staying away from roles has not been enough. Say what you want about him, though, this was him at his action-thriller finest, bringing back the good old days when he was on top of the world.
With the numbers in from the opening weekend of Lincoln, the film appears to have grossed over $21 million, which is a decent pull for a historical epic (even though I did expect a higher gross), especially when you consider that it went up against the opening of the latest Twilight movie, and Skyfall is still going strong. If you go to IMDb and check out the current rating the film sits at, it is an 8.3 which has steadily climbed at least one point each day since it’s release on Friday after hovering between 7.8 and 7.9 in the days following the limited release on November 9th. I would now like to break down the ratings even further, and by clicking on the user amount located below the rating on the film’s page, we can see how the ratings got sorted by age and gender, which can tell us a lot about a film’s success.
Where do I begin? This was a film that I had so many expectations for, and most of them were met. Before I get into this review, I want to say right off the bat that I think this film might be very difficult for anyone other than a history or Civil War buff to truly enjoy. Not to say that this is a dull film, because it is not, and is filled with complexity and enlivening dialogue, but as an actor once told me when it comes to Civil War films, “One bearded guy giving a speech to a bunch of bearded guys in one scene looks exactly the same to the general public as another bearded guy giving a speech to a bunch of bearded guys in the next one.” I feel that it would be unfair to use that quote to classify exactly what Lincoln is, but due to the fact that this film is entirely dialogue-driven, and lasts nearly two hours and a half, it might be a bit tough for some people to get through.