Friday, May 26, 2017

War movies (Part 1)

This list gathers all war movies that I have watched this year so far and that were made after 2010. This way, I cannot sing paeans to Black Hawk Down. The list is in random order.
War movies are probably my most favorite genre of movies, and sadly our modern world gives me plenty to watch - new movies about new conflicts. There are hundreds of those - some deal with WW2, some with earlier conflicts, and some with 21st century ones.
Maybe you'll find something to watch as well.

So here we go. Along with each title, you'll only find a short note whether it's worthy to watch or not.

1. Jin ling shi san chai (The Flowers of War) (2011). WW2, Nanking of 1937 and the massacre of the civilians by the Japanese Imperial Army. Frantic and futile race of one priest to save women so that they don't end up as sexual slaves. A beautiful, but heavy movie.

2. My Way (2011). Korea under Japanese occupation. War is hell for any side, especially those who dream about other things. Recommended.

3. Hacksaw Ridge (2016). Not for everyone. The war is dirty, gritty and unfair. The movie is brutal and raw. But Andrew Garfield can suffer heroically and beautifully. One of the best WW2 movies I have seen lately.

4. Beasts of No Nation (2015). The "beast" is in this case the war itself, but the movie shows clearly that only a tiny bit of chaos and hatred can breed monsters. Or maybe - it shatters the chains that were used to subdue the beast inside every one of us.

5. Eye in the Sky (2015). A very detached and yet riveting story of one drone attack - and its aftermath when innocent people die. The most fascinating thing was the bureaucracy shown here.

6. Lone Survivor (2013). Based on a true story of one stupid mistake in Afghanistan and the surprising help in most hostile environment.

7. American Sniper (2014). I have mixed feelings about snipers. And S.E.A.L. sniper here didn't make me like them.

8. Green Zone (2010). Takes place in 2003 in Iraq. Team of inspectors is dispatched to find the weapons of mass destruction. But it's hard to find something that doesn't exist.

9. Act of Valor (2012). Oh gods, I was so bored. It's a fictional story about the group of S.E.A.Ls, aka really boring and clumsy and half-brained Girl Scouts. Do not watch it.

10. Sand Castle (2017). A young soldier in Iraq breaks his hand on purpose so that he won't be sent to the front line. But when the water pipes get blown up, the soldiers are tasked with repairing them. Local people (like the teacher) get severely punished (they die) for helping the occupants, the soldiers become unhinged from the constant looking over their shoulders. And at the end, when the pipes are repaired and done, one local goes and blows up the entire building... along with the pipes. This movie is about futility. I really liked it. Plus, you know, gruffy Henry Cavill doesn't hurt.

11. Siege of Jadotville (2016). I really liked this movie. It takes place in September 1961, during the United Nations intervention in the Katanga conflict in Congo-LĂ©opoldville, in Central Africa. UN sends the unit of an Irish army, because they are impartial and neutral - they don't belong to the colonizing force, so that they can bring some much wanted stabilization. However French mercenaries, working for the warlord along with his army have something else in mind for them. It starts with C and ends with -arnage. Irish soldiers find themselves under a siege in a UN place. After days of heavy fire, the commander finally breaks and to save his man, he surrenders. For over 50 years they were treated like cowards, and only now they regained their honor. Great cinematography, acting, montage. In one two words: great movie.

12. Kajaki/Kilo Two Bravo (2014). Really hard watch because the soldiers here are half-brained idiots. They could have avoided the fatalities if they started to think first. War is mostly the wait, so this movie paints the main quantity of it really well. But if I can't care about the characters, that's the end for me. But even with this, it was a fairly good movie.

13. Hyena Road (2015). Canadian war film, pretty brutal about the construction of a road deep into the Taliban territory in Afghanistan. To do that, they rely on Afghan man, called "The Ghost", because their other Afghan men betrayed them and are working with the Taliban. It's realistic and all, but somehow couldn't get involved into the story.

14. Korengal (2014). This is a documentary movie exploring the soldiers' memories and experience of war in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan. It's mostly the unnerving close-up interviews with soldiers stationed in (now) famous Restrepo outpost. The film uses the footage shot by Tim Hetherington, a journalist who died in 2011 during Libyan Civil War. A harrowing documentary, following Restrepo one (one I have to yet watch).

15. Riphagen (2016). A Dutch movie about the criminal Bernardus Andreas (Dries) Riphagen who helped Nazi round up Jews so he could steal their valuables for himself. He tricked them by saying he's going to help them to hide their treasures so that they could take it back after the war or from another place if/when they escape. And how exactly he managed to fool them - well, that's a nice suspense, because the whole movie has this noir criminal ambience.