American Sniper reviews

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Re: American Sniper reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Sun May 24, 2015 3:02 am

I think I finally get the disconnect on this one.

I watched it again on DVD with a fresh eye. On a technical level, it's Clint Eastwood's best film since Letters from Iwo Jima, but on a human level, it leaves a lot to be desired. I think what those who really liked the film took what they knew about protagonist Chris Kyle into the film with them. Anyone looking at the film without knowing the full story of the guy or the background of the ill-advised U.S. involvement in Iraq wouldn't get much out of it. The 9/11 TV scene does give the distinct impression that we were in Iraq because of the attack on the WTC. There needed to be a transition scene showing Bush or Cheney or someone talking about the "weapons of mass destruction" alleged to have been in Iraq, which is what got us there, not the hunt for Osama bin Laden which was what got us into the other war in the region.

The film begins with Kyle about to shoot a young boy armed with a bomb by his mother. It then flashes back to his childhood and his father teaching him to hunt. It gives the unfortunate impression that Kyle equates shooting the kid with shooting an animal in the woods. There is no explanation in the film of what the Americans are doing or why they are there. There is no distinguishing the "good" Iraquis from the "bad" Iraquis, the terrorists who want to kill the soldiers. It lacks the humanism that Eastwood brought to Letters and many of his other films. It has an "us vs. them" mentality that harkens back to World War II contemporaneous films in which all "Japs" are bad and all Americans are "good" and even further back to old cowboy movies in which the Indians are the bad guys. A few lines of dialogue could have fixed this.

The film could and should have done a better job of emphasizing that Kyle was celebrated for saving lives by taking out dangerous killers instead of repeating over and over how many kills he had, which suggests that it is the kills themselves that are being celebrated.

Although the film does a decent job of showing Kyle's personal post-war demons, it fails to provide much evidence of his years of post-war work with soldiers who have been wounded both physically and mentally. His killer comes out of nowhere without this knowledge. Maybe we'll get that from a TV movie sometime in the future, perhaps one produced by Clint.

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Re: American Sniper reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Mon Mar 09, 2015 4:11 am

Heksagon wrote:The film goes beyond sympathizing with the soldiers and beyond describing their personal experience. The soldiers are glorified, and portrayed as infallible and morally superior. The conclusion, to me, is that their participation in the war is glorified and therefore the war itself is implicitly, not necessarily justified, but at least apologized for. This is what I mean when I say that the film strikes me as an apologia.

If the soldiers are glorified because of their participation in the war, it appears to me that then the war itself is at least to some degree glorified (and justified) as well.



But of course! I mean - I kind of understand Americans: they MUST believe in this (very convenient, but also very hypocritical) difference between glorifying soldiers at war and glorifying war itself - they grow up with it, it's repeated every single day on tv, in the newspapers, in the movies. (Even recently - remember Amy Adams leaving her seat on a plane to a soldier? All the Americans on this board were moved and grateful. They couldn't care less probably, but they HAD to be moved and grateful). So, again, I understand them - life would be impossible there if one doesn't think that way - but honestly, they can't expect non-Americans to buy it, my God.

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Re: American Sniper reviews

Postby Heksagon » Mon Mar 09, 2015 2:32 am

Sabin wrote:This I mostly agree with, although I don't understand why you think the Iraqi deaths are shown to be clean and painless.

Well, that is the impression I had after seeing the film. But all right, you may well have experienced it differently. Maybe it’s just my expectation that a realistic war film should be gruesomely violent, because that’s the way wars tend to be.

They're certainly not shown as three dimensional in any capacity, but the drill killer scene, while not emotionally complex, is anything but. The film does not challenge Kyle's beliefs enough. From the midpoint onward, it seems like half the soldiers he encounters as the ones who tell him "This war is awful" or soldiers who have been disabled during combat, but at no point does anybody attempt to challenge his unfailing belief in his country or his country's intentions in invading Iraq, and that's why we're not talking about a great or even truly good film.

Now, I do kind of agree with this.
So, I don't believe this is a film that actively supports the Invasion of Iraq. It just doesn't denounce it like I would like. It's more interested in supporting our troops and how we need to bring them home, and honestly I'm fine with that once in a while. American Sniper gets partial credit in my book.

But I just don’t draw this conclusion. The film goes beyond sympathizing with the soldiers and beyond describing their personal experience. The soldiers are glorified, and portrayed as infallible and morally superior. The conclusion, to me, is that their participation in the war is glorified and therefore the war itself is implicitly, not necessarily justified, but at least apologized for. This is what I mean when I say that the film strikes me as an apologia.

If the soldiers are glorified because of their participation in the war, it appears to me that then the war itself is at least to some degree glorified (and justified) as well. And when the soldiers are shown to be infallible, the implication seems to be that their actions cannot be criticized - at least not by civilians. And by this I mean not so much the decision to invade the country - which enlisted soldiers would have been powerless to influence in any case - but more the manner in which the war conducted in the ground - which they certainly would have been able to influence.

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Re: American Sniper reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Mar 08, 2015 5:09 pm

Putting it in perspective, here's a sobering article that paints a very unflattering picture of middle-American Christians and their love of guns.

http://www.addictinginfo.org/2015/03/07 ... an-sniper/

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Re: American Sniper reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Sat Mar 07, 2015 4:06 pm

Greg wrote:
ITALIANO wrote:I've never been brainwashed by a system.


Although there must be many Italaians who have been brainwashed, or else Italy would have left the Euro years ago and returned to the Lyra.


:) Your problem, Greg, is that you don't know anything about Italy.

Most Italians are, like me, pro-Euro. And anyway, the choice was made years ago by our politicians, not by the people. So where would the brainwashing be?

But I'm glad. If your best answer to my observations is this one, it means that I was really right :wink:

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Re: American Sniper reviews

Postby Greg » Sat Mar 07, 2015 1:50 pm

ITALIANO wrote:I've never been brainwashed by a system.


Although there must be many Italaians who have been brainwashed, or else Italy would have left the Euro years ago and returned to the Lyra.

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Re: American Sniper reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Sat Mar 07, 2015 9:43 am

Big Magilla wrote:not because they thought we were initially in Iraq because of 9/11.


Not THEY maybe, but ask any American (and those who made American Sniper) and you'll be surprised by their answers, Big Magilla.

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Re: American Sniper reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Sat Mar 07, 2015 9:35 am

ITALIANO wrote:I seemed to remember that they even showed a scene where Bradley Cooper watches the two skyscrapers in flames in New York (the typical American way to justify the invasion of Iraq - what Americans still don't know is that Iraq didn't have anything to do with that), but, you know, I might be wrong - he was probably just watching The Towering Inferno, stupid me...


Chris Kyle joined the U.S. Navy in 1999, two years before 9/11. The attack on the World Trade Center did not influence either his signing up or his interest in Special Forces which is what he signed up for in the first place.

The 9/11 attack was the justification for the Afghan War which began as a search for Osama bin Laden and was materially supported by Italy among other U.S. allies It was never used as a justification for the Iraq War which was opposed by many Americans. That war was initially supposed to be a "shock and awe" attempt to destroy the "weapons of mass destruction" that many of us doubted were ever there and which later proved not to be. The war was prolonged by insurgent Iraqi forces including al-Qaeda. It's the insurgency that Kyle and his fellow Navy SEALs were fighting in American Sniper, an insurgency that they believed to be of the same mindset that caused the 9/11 attacks. If they later used the 9/11 attacks as justification for their actions it was because in their minds they were certain that more such atrocities would occur if they didn't prevail, not because they thought we were initially in Iraq because of 9/11.

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Re: American Sniper reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Sat Mar 07, 2015 5:23 am

Sabin wrote:If you took my statement about knowing a soldier to mean that I am somehow blinded to the flaws of American Sniper then you are mistaken.


To be completely honest, I was saying something else, and bigger - that statement, and others, that you and others probably get from American televisio, American news (and I do watch them sometimes), American talk shows, means that you are blinded NOT to the flaws of American Sniper - but to the flaws of America. It's not just about a minor movie - I wished it was!

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Re: American Sniper reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Sat Mar 07, 2015 4:56 am

Sabin wrote: don't believe it supports it.


Ah sorry Sabin - I seemed to remember that they even showed a scene where Bradley Cooper watches the two skyscrapers in flames in New York (the typical American way to justify the invasion of Iraq - what Americans still dont know is that Iraq didn't have anything to do with that), but, you know, I might be wrong - he was probably just watching The Towering Inferno, stupid me...

My metaphor was extreme - as I pointed out - but not ridiculous at all.

And, of course, between my two posts there's no contradiction. I truly hate that American rant about "our poor soldiers", and mine was a reply to that cliche that I've heard too many times and that I can't stand anymore. But movies are another thing, and I wouldn't want even American invading soldiers to be portrayed like American movies portray Iraqis - or, decades ago, Russians or Vietnamese. Because, Sabin, I am a humanist, and I always try to see every aspect in every situation and character.

Or maybe, more simply, just because I'm not American. I've never been brainwashed by a system. My mind still works, Sabin - and let me say it: I'm proud of this.

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Re: American Sniper reviews

Postby Sabin » Sat Mar 07, 2015 1:43 am

Those are all sound points. Not that intentionally ridiculous metaphor or the ground that its based on, but everything else I almost completely agree with. What I object to is the idea that because American Sniper depicts the poor mental health of our soldiers (disfigured, suffering from PTSD in combat, out of combat, the protagonist of the film killed by a deranged fellow soldier -- no matter how poorly executed it may be) but does not depict the larger complexities of the invasion of Iraq, that it supports said invasion and American foreign policy. It may not do a good job at condemning the war, but I don't believe it supports it.

Italiano wrote
But Sabin, there obviously is a difference between a personal friendship, which is very human and very understandable, AND a movie, who MUST try to be more objective - if only because it won't be seen only by Sabin and his friend - especially when it treats subjects which are by nature so complex, so universal.

If you took my statement about knowing a soldier to mean that I am somehow blinded to the flaws of American Sniper then you are mistaken. This is a film that I have seen twice, criticized twice, and do not even fully recommend.

And man, your tone sure got a lot more pleasant in this last post when you said this:

Italiano wrote
And by the way, it's not like I think soldiers - American or not - should be portrayed under a negative light in movies. It's the general context that I look at - and when you make a movie about soldiers in a war, you aren't portraying just soldiers, but war, too.


From before when you said this:

Italiano wrote
This recurring American rant about, ok, wars may be bad but we must still side with our valiant soldiers etc... It's just so empty. So fake. And it's just another way of supporting wars. They are soldiers - they chose that job, and they chose it in a country that's famous for being one of the most aggressive ones.

Translation = fuck 'em.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Re: American Sniper reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Fri Mar 06, 2015 4:27 am

But Sabin, there obviously is a difference between a personal friendship, which is very human and very understandable, AND a movie, who MUST try to be more objective - if only because it won't be seen only by Sabin and his friend - especially when it treats subjects which are by nature so complex, so universal. If I follow your way of thinking - and I will be intentionally extreme now - even a serial killer should only be portrayed positively in a movie, because of course he has a mother, who loves him and cares for him. She's right - she's his mother. But a filmmaker should go beyond that - it's his duty as an artist.

And by the way, it's not like I think soldiers - American or not - should be portrayed under a negative light in movies. It's the general context that I look at - and when you make a movie about soldiers in a war, you aren't portraying just soldiers, but war, too. And the message you convey about war is very important, because war IS an important subject. Don't get me wrong - one is free, as a filmmaker, to have a political view and even a political agenda (though I generally prefer such agenda to be explicit, not ambiguous like in this case, but that's another story) - but I am also free, as a viewer, to criticize it.

And finally - why is it so difficult? For me, I mean. Honestly - what I say, and for years now on this board, would be easily understood and even generally approved here in Europe. I will say more: it would be even considered rather obvious, banal. But American react in shock - surprised, today, more than upset, but still in shock. I don't think Americans are necessarily limited - certainly not those on this board - but... I dont know... brainwashed, maybe? And movies like American Sniper don't help, of course.

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Re: American Sniper reviews

Postby Sabin » Thu Mar 05, 2015 6:19 pm

Italiano wrote
I'm not. Definitely not. This recurring American rant about, ok, wars may be bad but we must still side with our valian soldiers etc... It's just so empty. So fake. And it's just another way of supporting wars. They are soldiers - they chose that job, and they chose it in a country that's famous for being one of the most aggressive ones. Plus, I don't see why we should support "our" troops, even if they are senselessly invading another country (only because they are "ours"? Not enough for me, sorry), and completely ignore the human side of those we are invading, and who die defending their land.

Well, then I guess there's no point in continuing this conversation. I have a friend who currently can't tell me where he's stationed. He has a wife and two children, and I've forgotten which tour this is for him. He is doubtlessly in one of those places where doubtlessly we're conducting a secret war I'd prefer our country not, and I'd like him to come home. In my world, that's not supporting the war. I can't just say "fuck him, he shouldn't be there!" like you can. It's having empathy for somebody who cannot extricate himself from "his duty".

And I get it, Marco: "what about those who his duty affects?" I know. That's why we're not talking about a great or even good film. Just one that does an imperfect job of presenting something I find to be valid and you don't.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Re: American Sniper reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Thu Mar 05, 2015 5:42 pm

Most people who join the Armed Forces in the U.S. are poor, under-educated, and join for career opportunities they are unable to find in the civilian workforce. Only 15% of U.S. Armed Forces personnel are involved in combat operations and most of them fall into it because they lack the skills for the specialized jobs they hoped to find. Few join up to "kill the bad guys". Gung ho killers like the subject of American Sniper are rare and not representative of the majority of physically and mentally wounded veterans who do indeed deserve our compassion and support. The same is true of most soldiers in most countries, pawns of the jaded old men who wage the wars they have to fight.

Here is a breakdown of the numbers within the U.S. Armed Services:

http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Military/Military-Careers.htm

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Re: American Sniper reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Thu Mar 05, 2015 3:00 pm

Sabin wrote: It's more interested in supporting our troops and how we need to bring them home, and honestly I'm fine with that


I'm not. Definitely not. This recurring American rant about, ok, wars may be bad but we must still side with our valian soldiers etc... It's just so empty. So fake. And it's just another way of supporting wars. They are soldiers - they chose that job, and they chose it in a country that's famous for being one of the most aggressive ones. Plus, I don't see why we should support "our" troops, even if they are senselessly invading another country (only because they are "ours"? Not enough for me, sorry), and completely ignore the human side of those we are invading, and who die defending their land.


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