Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Three Must See Movies

Inglourious Basterds - 2009
Over the Christmas holiday, #2 daughter came to spend three weeks with us. During that time she introduced hubby and me to the the filmmaker, Quentin Tarantino, through his film Inglourious Basterds. The film stars Brad Pitt and tells the story of Nazi-occupied France during World War II and a plan to assassinate Nazi leaders by a group of Jewish U.S. soldiers which coincides with a theatre owner's vengeful plans for the same. This is one action packed movie. I was up and down out of my seat several times, even having to leave the room, as the violence was a bit too much for me to experience. That coupled with a script that was in some ways a bit too . . . I don't have the words. Up shot, we didn't really appreciate the film all that much. Which, brought me to the thought of what is a good prepper film that I would recommend.

There are a number of apocalypse type films available on DVD that are popular with the survival/prepping community. Many may find my selection of these three as too narrow a focus, and in truth, they may only speak to those of my generation.


 

I chose three based on my criteria of:

1. The film must not have gratuitous violence, sex, and/or negative language.
2. The film must be character driven with great character development.
3. The film must have believable characters who advance their cause in a realistic fashion.
4. The film must educate in the process of entertaining.
5. The film must have a story that cohesively interacts with the genre and period of the film.

From my Torantino experience you might guess I don't particularly care for violence when watching films or television. Ditto that for sex, and also "bad" language. That being said, I also know there is a place for those when telling a good story, and so do watch films that may be rated "R" because of the content - I just advert my eyes, or sometimes leave the room, if there are scenes too graphic for my senses. Good, well developed characters, with a cause, that are believable and who reside in a believable world are important, also. To this end, the film must have a realistic topic and relate believably to the time period in which it is set. Additionally, I want to not only be entertained, but want to come away having learned something or have my life enriched.

My three must see movies are:



Bravehaeart - 1995
Braveheart - A 1995 epic historical drama film directed by and starring Mel Gibson. Gibson portrays William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish warrior who led the Scots in the First War of Scottish Independence against King Edward I of England. The story was written for the screen and then as a novel by Randall Wallace. At the 68th Academy Awards it won for Best Picture and Best Director and three other awards and was nominated for an additional five.

I know that there are those who have been very critical of the film because of it's portrayal of Wallace and elements of the time period in which the story is set. The screenwriter, Randall Wallace, has acknowledged Blind Harry's 15th century epic poem The Acts and Deeds of Sir William Wallace, Knight of Elderslie as a major inspiration for the film. In defending his script, Wallace has said, "Is Blind Harry true? I don't know. I know that it spoke to my heart and that's what matters to me, that it spoke to my heart."

There is no doubt that Braveheart is a stirring film. Although it portrays nationalism at a time when there was no nationalism, it does so in a way that we can connect and relate. I always come away from viewing the film most appreciative of those brave hearted souls who lived through the ages of kings and despots and resisted the tyranny of their time.



The Patriot - 2000
The Patriot - A 2000 action/drama directed by Roland Emmerich, written by Robert Rodat and starring Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger. This film was acclaimed for it's production, music, sound, and cinematography.
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IMDB synopsis: It is 1776 in colonial South Carolina. Benjamin Martin, a French-Indian war hero who is haunted by his past, now wants nothing more than to live peacefully on his small plantation, and wants no part of a war with the most powerful nation in the world, Great Britain. Meanwhile, his two eldest sons, Gabriel and Thomas, can't wait to enlist in the newly formed "Continental Army." Peaceful farmer Martin is driven to lead the Colonial Militia in what becomes the American Revolution when a sadistic British officer murders his son.

In his review of the film Roger Ebert said, "I enjoyed the strength and conviction of Gibson's performance, the sweep of the battle scenes, and the absurdity of the British caricatures." However, that was the nicest of what his review related. Film critic James Berardinelli of ReelViews noted, "Caleb Deschanel's gorgeous cinematography and John Williams' score give the film an impressive sheen, but there's little substance for the gloss to adhere to." He also complained, "Characters have been built from stereotypes and cliches and nearly every plot development has been lifted from another film."


Even with the poor reviews, I feel the film has much merit. As Berardinelli noted, ". . . there have been a number of powerful and memorable Civil War-era films (including Glory, Dances With Wolves, and Gettysburg), but correspondingly few representations of the time of the Revolutionary War. The last major motion picture set in North America during the 1700s was 1992's The Last of the Mohicans, a rousing adventure that transpired during the so-called French-and-Indian War." That being said, though The Patriot may be a critically "mediocre motion picture", it does tell of a family's personal struggle and sacrifice during an important American time period and for that reason alone is worth watching.



The Postman - 1997
The Postman - A 1997 adventure/drama directed by Kevin Costner, screenplay written by Eric Roth and Brian Helgeland from the novel written by David Brin. The film stars Kevin Costner, Will Patton and Larenz Tate. 

The film opens in 2013 on the Great Salt Flats of Utah. In the aftermath of a cataclysmic world war, the human race has been fragmented and scattered. The government of the United States has collapsed, and now anarchy reigns. Small communities across the remains of the country jealously protect what they have by offering tribute to the dictatorial General Bethlehem (Will Patton), whose army of bandits and murderers controls everything. Any settlement that defies Bethlehem is quickly razed.

A solitary wanderer (Costner) enters a small town to present a one-man Shakespeare show as a means of earning a little food and shelter. General Bethlehem pays a surprise visit to this village and the nameless loner is conscripted into the Holnist army. He is a rebellious man, however, and it isn't long before he escapes. Fleeing from search parties, he hides out in an old, broken down mail carrier's truck. Taking the full letterbag and the coat off a skeleton, he becomes the Postman in hopes of passing out long overdue letters in return for food and shelter. As he travels from town-to-town, speaking words of hope about the "Reformed Congress of the United States" and giving out letters, his reputation spreads.

Like The Patriot, this film is not much liked by its reviewers. James Berardinelli of ReelViews noted, "It's hard to believe that the same man who directed a modern classic, Dances with Wolves, could be responsible for something this horribly mishandled. Where did it all go wrong? Probably at the very beginning. The Postman is a bad idea, poorly executed. The plot is dumb and riddled with gaping holes of logic, and the dialogue sounds like it was penned by a hack writer."


At this point you can see that my film choices have been pretty much panned by mainstream critics. In fact Ebert and Berardinelli both loved Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. Perhaps it is just me, or perhaps it is mainstream media critics, but my three picks have messages that resonate. Their pick left me feeling as Ebert wrote, “It’s either the best film of the year or the worst film,” he said. "I hardly knew what the hell had happened to me."

At the end of my three movies, I was left cheering for US, those of us with principles we believe and live by, who are resilient, and are readying for the next turning of our society. It is those people we see represented in these three movies. Unfortunately, the mainstream either can't or don't want to see the power in it, and perhaps they don't want us to see it either.



2 comments:

  1. Those are great picks. I love Braveheart and The Patriot. The personal story intertwined with the theme of common folk uniting to stand against an oppressive governing body - I find that very empowering. I want to paint my face blue, shake my spear at the sky and take on the world! I haven’t watched The Postman. I was forced to read the book in a high school literature class and, at age 16, I thought I was being tortured! I do remember the main character bringing much needed hope to a post-apocalyptic world. I might have to pick it up again (or at least watch the movie). Now that I am older, it might not be so tortuous of a read!

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    1. Oh, I hope you do watch The Postman. It is so timely, I mean it is 2013 after all! :) Really though, I don't think I could see the possibility of the premise really happening back in the late 1990s, but I so relate today. I think that's what makes it an important film to watch! Not just that there is no governing body, but that the preservation of culture and having a purpose drives us. And the question from all three movies remains, if not me, who - if not now, when? Thanks for stopping!

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