3 out of 5
Jarhead is a 2005 film based on U.S. Marine Anthony Swofford's 2003 Gulf War memoir Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles, starring Jake Gyllenhaal as Swofford. The title is based on a semi-derogatory slang, jarhead, used for Marines, and sometimes by Marines themselves. The film was directed by Academy Award winner Sam Mendes, most famous for his 1999 film American Beauty.
I thought it had potential, but I give it 3 out of 5.
The film is a character comedy set in New York City. Rafi (Uma Thurman) is a recently divorced, 37-year-old career woman from Manhattan. David (Bryan Greenberg), a talented 23-year-old Jewish painter from the Upper West Side, falls in love with her. Rafi shares all her secrets with her therapist Lisa (Meryl Streep). Unbeknownst to Rafi, Lisa happens to be David's mother.
I'm a sucker from non-cheesy romantic films, especially if there is a healthy dose of angst and longings unfulfilled. This one didn't really fit the bill; it was just OK. I give it 3 out ot 5.
The story deals with the Crusades of the 12th century, and involves...a village blacksmith who goes on to aid the city of Jerusalem in its defense against the great Islamic leader Saladin, who battles to reclaim the city from the Christians. The script is loosely based on the life of Balian of Ibelin. Professor Hamid Dabashi of Columbia University was the film's chief academic consultant.
So much violence. So much battling of God's enemies. So many cries of "God wills it." From both sides. I give it 3 out of 5.
Coincidentally (before I started watching Kingdom of Heaven, I didn't realize that it was all about war between Christians and Muslims), today I also watched the Fox News special Radical Islam: Terror in Its Own Words (on the recommendation of a relative). I thought it was instructive in emphasizing the danger, in giving more full attention to what we usually only hear in brief soundbites...the chants of "death to America", the way children raised to be martyrs. Much emphasis was made that the special was addressing radical Islam, not its moderate relative, but that moderate Islam is too reticent in condemning the radical fringe. I guess these are all points that have some validity.
This violent, radical Islam is not something that human society should tolerate. But the coincidence of watching these two things today reminded me again of the obvious parallels between then and now. A battle between a Christian king and a Muslim general from Tikrit. The infamous reference by king George to crusades. The spiritual significance tied to death as a crusader...to death as a Muslim martyr. It's tempting to think that we have progressed so far since then but that they are still stuck in such a primitive place, but many of us still think of what we've been doing lately as going to war in God's name, with his blessing. I was brought back to the feeling of how important it is that we not sink to the level of these murderous extremists...not to torture, not to trust in nor embrace violence. Not to allow our enemies to draw us away from the things that are so noble and wonderful about our country.
The movie is set after the 1972 Munich massacre. A squad of assassins, led by former Mossad agent "Avner" (Eric Bana), is ordered to track down and kill a list of Black September members thought to be responsible for the 11 Israeli athletes' murders...
It was OK, I guess, but I wasn't engaged at all. I give it 3 out of 5.
All the King's Men (2006) is an adaptation of the 1946 Pulitzer Prize winning novel All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren, which was already made as a movie by Robert Rossen in 1949...The film is about the life of Willie Stark, played by Sean Penn, a fictional character resembling Louisiana governor Huey Long.
It was OK. Nothing special. I give it 3 out of 5.
Tonight we watched Metroland (1997,R). It stars Christian Bale and Emily Watson. The soundtrack by Mark Knopfler wasn't an asset in my opinion. From the synopsis on reel.com:
A man mired in a suburban 9-to-5 existence recalls with frustration the bohemian party life he lived in Paris a decade earlier.
I thought it was OK. I couldn't help picturing each of the characters in other roles they've played...not a good sign. I give it 3 out of 5.
On Saturday I finished watching Kagemusha (1980,PG). From Wikipedia:
Kagemusha is a film by Akira Kurosawa. The title means "the impersonator" in Japanese, or, more literally, "the shadow warrior". It is the story of a lower-class criminal who is taught to impersonate a dying warlord in order to dissuade opposing lords from attacking the newly vulnerable clan.
The film is set in the Warring States period of Japanese history. The warlord whom the kagemusha impersonates is based on Daimyo Takeda Shingen and the climactic battle on the Battle of Nagashino which took place in 1573.
Kagemusha was released in 1980 and is generally considered a great recreation of feudal Japan as well as a story of a man with a divided personality, or more generally that of an actor who falls too deeply into his role.
It was OK. I'm not a big fan of the genre. I give it 3 out of 5.
The film tells the story of an overzealous gang of anti-terrorist "global peace" enforcers known as Team America. Much of the film is a parody of the Bush Administration's War on Terror. Most of the heroes and villains represent extreme caricatures of both conservative and liberal attitudes towards the war, and American foreign policy in general. The film also heavily parodies the clichÃ©s of other action movies...
Though highly vulgar and profane, the lampooning of the haphazardly executed war on terror and the penchant of "Hollywood liberals" to step into politics was amusing.
Batman Begins is a 2005 motion picture based on the Batman character created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, directed by Christopher Nolan and written by Nolan and David S. Goyer. Although it is the fifth live-action Batman movie since 1989, the movie is a neither a prequel nor a sequel to the previous Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher movies, but rather a re-start of the movie franchise.
After hearing so many people tell me that this was good, I was more disappointed to see that it was unremarkable. I give it 3 out of 5.