Friday, March 28, 2008


Tomorrow I will be seeing Kimberly Peirce's new film STOP-LOSS. Perice busted out on the scene back in 1999 with her brilliant, harrowing debut BOYS DON'T CRY, which won Hilary Swank her first Oscar for best actress. Her fist film in almost a decade, STOP-LOSS is a uniquely personal film for Peirce. Her half-brother served in Iraq and she met with many Iraq vets in order to get her story correct. The film centers on the military's controversial "stop-loss" policy, which sends soldiers back into combat after they have fulfilled their original duties. Ryan Philippe plays a soldier who goes AWOL after getting "stop-lossed." The film has been met with mixed reviews (60% overall at Rottentomatoes with a 63% cream of the crop). Mixed reivews have been the norm for almost all of the recent Hollywood films dealing with the Iraq war and the middle east. AO Scott in the NY Times ran a rave review, as well as Kenny Turan in the LA Times. Some critics either just don't want to be reminded of what's going on in the real world or they get too political in their critiques, sidestepping the film at hand, and instead choosing to discuss whether the film is "too liberal" or "too Republican," etc. I love politically themed films, and I have seen almost all of the recent "sand movies," as they've come to be called on the internet. I loved THE KINGDOM (****) and I thought both RENDITION (***1/2) and IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH (***1/2) were very well done, if not without some small flaws. Brian De Palma's angry anti-war film REDACTED (***) was a noble, important look at our soldiers overseas but suffered from poor acting. Irwin Winkler's overly sentimental HOME OF THE BRAVE (**1/2) had effective moments but was saddled with a lazy script. Sadly, I missed Robert Redford's LIONS FOR LAMBS, but it will be hitting DVD soon. The documentary NO END IN SIGHT (****) was one of the most damning films yet about the Iraq war; it should be mandatory viewing for everyone. The best film about the conflict in the middle east is still David O. Russell's sardonic masterpiece THREE KINGS, and that film was about the first Gulf War. Since that film's initial release back in 1999, it has become all the more prescient and important. Not to mention extremely entertaining. In any event, I look forward to seeing STOP- LOSS; comments will appear soon.

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