American Sniper reviews

Sabin
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Re: American Sniper reviews

Postby Sabin » Thu Mar 05, 2015 11:52 am

Heksagon
Now, I don't have a problem with a film about the experiences of American soldiers in Iraq and I don't have a problem with a film that sympathizes with these soldiers either. What I do object to is the linking between 9/11 and the Iraqi invasion; the portrayal of injured and traumatized American soldiers as primary victims of the war rather than as aggressors; the portrayal of American deaths as painful and traumatizing while Iraqi deaths are shown to be clean and painless; and the general way in which Kyle is glorified as an infallible, morally superior superhero, the like of which just don't exist in real life.

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

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.
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Re: American Sniper reviews

Postby Sabin » Thu Mar 05, 2015 11:37 am

Of course I understand it. Since the film's release, there's been a debate in our national media as to whether or not this film is blatant, even dangerous propaganda. Were you honestly unaware of that?
"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 » Thu Mar 05, 2015 6:08 am

Sabin wrote:So, you're saying you didn't like it?



Yes, Sabin, I'm saying that I didn't like it. Of course I didn't. But I was trying to say something else and more important - something that you'll never hear in your national media. Too bad you can't understand it.

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Re: American Sniper reviews

Postby Heksagon » Thu Mar 05, 2015 3:57 am

Personally, I was rather unimpressed by American Sniper. Bradley Cooper is a charismatic star actor and he nails his part; but otherwise the film is rather unexceptional, although a few of the action scenes are entertaining at least.

You can count me as one of those people who consider the film to be an apologia for the Iraqi War, although not necessarily a right-wing one. The film echoes the same mentality I heard so often back in 2003, even on this board - that you should still support the soldiers even when you’re opposing the war.

During and immediately after the Vietnam War, it was common for American civilians to take out the frustration with the unpopular war on the soldiers who had served there, and this may have gone on to an excess, to the point that many people subsequently became embarrassed of their previous attitude. The desire to compensate for this behavior; the (mainly) right-wing pro-military propaganda since the 80s; and the guilt felt by the people who never considered serving in all-voluntary army are likely to be the reasons why this mentality is so prevalent in the U.S. currently.

Now, I don't have a problem with a film about the experiences of American soldiers in Iraq and I don't have a problem with a film that sympathizes with these soldiers either. What I do object to is the linking between 9/11 and the Iraqi invasion; the portrayal of injured and traumatized American soldiers as primary victims of the war rather than as aggressors; the portrayal of American deaths as painful and traumatizing while Iraqi deaths are shown to be clean and painless; and the general way in which Kyle is glorified as an infallible, morally superior superhero, the like of which just don't exist in real life.

Furthermore, I was unimpressed by a number of clichés in the film that I am nevertheless willing to overlook: the myth of the American sharp-shooter who wins wars with his marksmanship (at least Kyle was a professional soldier unlike the civilian-in-arms Sgt. York); the concept of the individual who challenges and rises above the group in which he is serving; the preference for portraying war through the eyes of a special forces operative which is well-suited for light-weight action films, but not for more profound films trying to explore war as a social issue; and the scene where Kyle is hunting another sniper to give the impression that the soldiers are the same on both sides.

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Re: American Sniper reviews

Postby Sabin » Thu Mar 05, 2015 2:29 am

I'm not talking about whether or not it's a "likable" film. I'm just asking Italiano if he liked it. It may not be the ultimate criterion, but yes, I think that should be a small part of it.

Italiano wrote
American Sniper is the American equivalent of such movies. Pure, unadultered propaganda. And I'm surprised that nobody in America pointed out this. (Even of this board, self-proclaimed "leftists" loved it. I wonder if there IS today a political left in that country. Because in Europe nobody from that side could even remotely like such a movie).

A ton of people have called American Sniper total propaganda. On twitter, Seth Rogen got incredible heat for saying it reminded him of the German movie at the end of Inglourious Basterds. Not the same thing but very close.
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Re: American Sniper reviews

Postby Uri » Thu Mar 05, 2015 1:53 am

Sabin wrote:So, you're saying you didn't like it?


Is this really the ultimate criterion – likability? (Hence Chris Cooper is the world greatest actor and one day he’ll prove it by managing to turn Richard III into a lovable hunk). I don’t care for the fact the AS is a seemingly respectable cinematic entity – I simply can’t even get myself into a position where I’m able to judge it as such. This is one of those cases when I find myself kind of resentful of an aesthetic appreciation being applied when moral and political awareness should be at least referred to.

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Re: American Sniper reviews

Postby Sabin » Wed Mar 04, 2015 8:41 pm

So, you're saying you didn't like it?
"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 » Wed Mar 04, 2015 5:25 pm

Mister Tee wrote: But this is a film with a narrower scope; it gives us the point of view of Chris Kyle and those around him (confederates and family).


So a movie about the SS commandant of a concentration camp, with his daily problems, family, etc, surrounded by threatening, evil Jewish prisoners would be acceptable..?

There are simply subjects where a "narrower scope" is, in itself, a political and moral choice - and it's the kind of choice which today could only exist in movies from dictatorships or from the US. Sad but true.

Of course, Nazi Germany never made that movie about the SS commandant. But they made for example movies about heroic German soldiers and wily, dangerous French resistance fighters. They were propaganda movies, deservedly forgotten today, and I'd say even tragically (and unintentionally) funny, seen today. American Sniper is the American equivalent of such movies. Pure, unadultered propaganda. And I'm surprised that nobody in America pointed out this. (Even on this board, self-proclaimed "leftists" loved it. I wonder if there IS today a political left in that country. Because in Europe nobody from that side could even remotely like such a movie).

In Europe, we are now ashamed of the invasion of Iraq. Most of us were, of course, ashamed even when that invasion started. American Sniper has made me realize that for Americans that's still something to be proud of. They still believe (and the movie reinforces that belief) that Iraq was responsible for Seprember, 11. They still think that that war was a noble gesture, something honorable, heroic, "manly".

The movie is stubbornly focused on this American invading soldier - a character that Americans may find interesting, though I personally was anxious to know more about the Iraqi characters. But this was clearly the wrong movie - like America itself, American Sniper has no interest for its victims, and it prefers to see them as soulless entities. Easy targets for the hero's bullets.

It's easy to respect and understand our enemies in a war which happened 70 years ago. Eastwood's Letters from Iwo Jima was, of course, a very good war movie - but easy. A truly mature culture can apply the same respect, the same understanding to the enemies of today. This is what makes us different from the barbarians: the ability to respect and understand. There's no respect nor understanding in American Sniper - except for Americans.

No, I'm wrong. There's respect for guns, too. Americans seem to be obsessed by guns. The problem is, they use them too often. And sometimes against each other.
Last edited by ITALIANO on Thu Mar 05, 2015 6:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: American Sniper reviews

Postby dws1982 » Mon Feb 02, 2015 12:06 am

I posted this at Letterboxd. It's short, it's feels a bit like stream-of-consciousness writing as I jump from one thing to another, but it attempts to touch on what what I feel are some of the film's strengths:

Much more complex than the straight-up glorification of Chris Kyle that many of its critics (and champions) see it as being, Eastwood's film is less about a "hero" than it is about a system that's willing to send men off to war but doesn't equip them with the emotional resources to deal with what they've experienced. This is why, it seems, Kyle's only response to dealing with life it home is to go back for another tour in Iraq. "Your dad's a hero", a young veteran tells Chris Kyle's son at one point, but everything in Bradley Cooper's body language shows how uneasy and uncomfortable he is at such a designation, and how totally unable he is to make any connection to this fellow veteran. Eastwood ultimately turns Kyle into an Eastwood hero--adrift in the world, unable to relate to others because he feels no one else can share or understand his experience, unable to relate to others except in specific contexts, an enigma whose violent side and gentler side can't be reconciled. Cooper's excellent performance (maybe the best Eastwood lead since Streep in The Bridges of Madison County) captures all of these feelings, and while the real Chris Kyle was a much more ambiguous figure than we see here, I don't find it fair to criticize the film because it essentially fictionalizes a real-life person. (It's a bit like the people who said Terrence Malick should've made The Thin Red Line a Vietnam film rather than WWII--let's look at the movie he made, not the one he didn't make or possibly should have made.) This is a piece of historical fiction, using Chris Kyle to tell what is essentially a tragic story about a man whose gift (such that it was) was his downfall, and was the reason why, instead of basking in his "glory" like we might expect him to do after his final tour ends, his only recourse is to sit alone at a bar, trying to sort out of his feelings, or maybe avoid them. One of the biggest hurdles I have with the film is that it goes on for about ten minutes after this bar scene, which isn't quite enough to show him confronting (and beginning to deal with) his PTSD--Eastwood would've been better off if he'd ended at the bar, or extended the final ten minutes to thirty. Even as a big Eastwood fan, I'll admit that some of his recent projects have been very hit-and-miss, but this is Eastwood working at a higher-than-normal level, both thematically and aesthetically--easily his best work since the Iwo Jima duo.

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Re: American Sniper reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Feb 01, 2015 7:40 pm

I guess I’ll be (along with dws) the outlier on this one. I think American Sniper is a very good film, easily Eastwood’s best since Letters from Iwo Jima. His efforts in the years between have struck me as half-formed; bland. But American Sniper shows remarkable clarity from start to finish.

And I have to say it mystifies me people are viewing this as some sort of right-wing apologia for the Iraq War. Yes, some Limbaugh/Hannity loudmouths are claiming it for their side -- but, hey, Reagan famously thought “Born in the U.S.A.” was a go-America anthem; it doesn’t make Springsteen responsible. It’s certainly true that the film doesn’t take a firm “Iraq was a disastrous, evil incursion” stance (which is basically my view, politically); if you think that’s the only appropriate way to cover the issue, then you might be hostile to the film. But this is a film with a narrower scope; it gives us the point of view of Chris Kyle and those around him (confederates and family). These were people who operated within a necessary tunnel vision: their responsibility, as they saw it, was to protect the members of their “family”, and not question decisions made above their pay grade. Obviously this is not a system without problems, but, if you acknowledge the need for any sort of military, I don’t see it can operate otherwise, and it’s interesting to get inside that mind-set.

And even within that framework, I think Eastwood and his writer offer substantial disquiet, even doubt about what the SEALS perpetrate in Iraq. Right from Kyle’s first kill, when his buddy wants to “yee-haw!” and he says “Don’t touch me”, it’s clear these acts aren’t the cleansing moments your typical action movie promotes; the fact of killing someone registers and eats away at him. Then there’s his brother’s “Fuck this place”; the graveside letter questioning the glory of the battlefield; the way our central characters draw in an unwilling family and cause their destruction; the very clear sense that Kyle is being degraded bit by bit (along with the way he averts his eyes whenever anyone suggests heroism on his part). And, finally, we have that extended final Iraq sequence, the encounter in the sandstorm – by far the most effective set-piece in the film, beautifully photographed and edited. And it’s centered on the hunt for their most dangerous opponent: a guy who does EXACTLY the same thing Kyle is doing. How spelled out did it have to be, that the only difference between the two is which team he’s playing for? (I briefly wondered whether simply calling the film “Sniper” would have been a good idea) This film is knit around Chris Kyle, but I don’t think there’s ever a moment when it enters into complicity with him. I think Eastwood is standing back and letting us take whatever side we wish (including no side). It’s a bit reminiscent of how the movie Patton portrayed its main character – hawks were cheering for the guy, doves were saying, see what a lunatic he is. I was impressed by the way that film managed the feat, and I’m just as impressed here.

Two other things: I’m told Chris Kyle in life was considerably more an asshole, and that his book’s tone put a lot more people off (Jason Hall’s script apparently had much input from Kyle’s wife, which I think helped the film achieve substantially more scope). If this is true and I’d known about changes to whitewash him, I might have had more reaction against the film. But, unlike Selma, where I knew certain things were false and it got my back up, I was coming at Kyle’s story completely fresh, so I can only react to what I saw on the screen.

Second: the ending. I didn’t know till reading somewhere that the facts of Kyle’s murder are still being contested, but it struck me, simply from seeing the date of the event flashed on the screen – February 2013 – that Kyle’s book was clearly written and this project was no doubt in development long before that event happened. Which is to say: this is not a movie about a guy who got killed; it was a movie about a guy who had an interesting life, who turned up killed sometime between the conceiving of the project and its fruition. (This must have a happened a few other times in film history, but the only other one I can recall is A Cry in the Dark, which went into production as Guilty by Suspicion because Lindy Chamberlain was in jail at the time, but changed it when she was released as undeniably exculpatory evidence turned up) All of this makes me wonder why BJ would analogize to Foxcatcher, which I think is much the opposite sort of thing: there, the ending was the only thing that justified the two hours that preceded it (and, for me, failed to make the connections that made the act explicable). Here, the story (at least the story initially set out to be told) was over before the event in question; had the film ended with Kyle doing his work with veterans, slowly regaining his equilibrium, it would have felt a complete work to me. So, even apart from the legalities involved, I didn’t feel the film needed the murder on film. That said – the fact of it offered a rather savagely ironic coda: Kyle’s whole m.o. was the protection of his compatriots, and in the end he was felled by one of them. Which again undercuts the idea this film is trying to glorify war and the military. (A friend of mine also questions whether Kyle was meant to be so totally recovered in his final scene. He points a gun directly at his wife, which, however unthreatened she may feel by it, is a major violation of gun protocol, something of which I’m pretty sure Eastwood is aware).

Anyway…I think this is, after the big three Boyhood/Budapest/Birdman, one of the best films of the year. And should it come down to a battle for screenplay between this and The Imitation Game, I’d be rooting for Hall. (Moore should be disqualified simply for repeating the bum-mest line in his script three times -- even “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” only turned up twice) I was very pleasantly surprised by this.

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Re: American Sniper reviews

Postby flipp525 » Thu Jan 29, 2015 3:02 pm

The New York Post is basically one step up (down?) from The National Enquirer.
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Re: American Sniper reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Thu Jan 29, 2015 3:00 pm

Big Magilla wrote:Well, apparently in Iraq don't see it as racist at all.

http://nypost.com/2015/01/29/american-s ... s-in-iraq/


And if those famously balanced American media say so, it must be true, right, Big Magilla?

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Re: American Sniper reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Thu Jan 29, 2015 2:36 pm

Well, apparently in Iraq don't see it as racist at all.

http://nypost.com/2015/01/29/american-s ... s-in-iraq/

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Re: American Sniper reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Sun Jan 25, 2015 1:09 pm

Reza wrote:Americans can't see how absurd it all is because they have never suffered an attack on their soil - Hawaii and 9/11 don't count. When American citizens all over suffer personal loss via an attack on them on their home soil (the Mid-West and the big cities on both coasts) only then will they understand what war is all about.




Yes, a colleague of mine told me the same thing just yesterday, and it's difficult not to agree.

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Re: American Sniper reviews

Postby Reza » Sun Jan 25, 2015 11:35 am

ITALIANO wrote:I really dont want to see this one. And it may be the first time in decades that I won't see a movie nominated for important Oscars. But then why should I see a movie which glorifies an American who kills people who are defending their country, which Americans invaded without a reason? What's the logic in all this? And why can't Americans - especially after years - see how absurd all this is? Are they more stupid than the Europeans? Of course not. No, really, this film may even be a masterpiece - even Leni Riefenstahl's pro-Nazi movies are - but it's not for Italiano.


Americans can't see how absurd it all is because they have never suffered an attack on their soil - Hawaii and 9/11 don't count. When American citizens all over suffer personal loss via an attack on them on their home soil (the Mid-West and the big cities on both coasts) only then will they understand what war is all about.

This film is nothing but Eastwood's version of American propaganda similar to which Hollywood churned out during WWII.


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