On September 11th 2001, the America was hit by one of the worst tragedies imaginable; the attack of the World Trade Center. As much as the victims and their families and friends were affected by the horror, so too were the families of a small group of the nation's troops.
The very next day the government formed Task Force Dagger; a team of 12 soldiers including CIA paramilitary officers and a US Special Forces group called the US Army Green Berets Operational Detachment Alpha 595 (ODA 595).
They would be immediately deployed to Afghanistan under the leadership of Captain Mitch Nelson (played by Chris Hemsworth and inspired by the real life Mark Nutsch), who is determined to bring every single one of his comrades back home alive. To have any hope of taking down the Taliban forces that have turned their conflict on to the States, they must team up with General Abdul Rashid Dostum of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, who provide the overseas team with some much needed companions: horses.
Continue: 12 Strong Trailer
Once again, director Clint Eastwood lurks in the background, springing a stunningly atmospheric thriller on audiences when they least expect it. Honestly, for an 84-year-old Eastwood is an astoundingly nimble filmmaker, able to take an audience right into a tense situation while never cheating with flashy movie trickery. This film grabs us without mercy, pulling us into a morally complex situation that gets our head spinning.
It's the true story of Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), the Navy Seal sniper credited with the most official kills after serving four tours of duty in Iraq. Based on his memoir, the film traces him from his religious upbringing, during which he's taught about guns and encroaching evil from an early age. So after the 9/11 attacks, he enlists in the Navy. His sharp-shooting skills are quickly apparent. And as he prepares for his first assignment abroad, he romances local girl Taya (Sienna Miller), a feisty woman who knows what she's getting into. Chris, on the other hand, is instantly thrown into a quandary when his first targets as a sniper are a woman and child who seem to be carrying a bomb. Over the next few years, his marriage to Taya and his moral centre are tested by his military service. And when an Iraqi sniper challenges him, he takes it personally.
Jason Hall's script sticks close to Chris' perspective, which is intensified by Eastwood's coolly efficient direction and Cooper's beefy performance. By putting the audience so tightly within Chris' point of view, we are unable to escape the psychological impact of his experiences, even if real warfare is no doubt much more horrific even than what's depicted here. Cleverly, the film never asks us to judge Chris, merely to see how battle changes him. And Cooper is terrific at finding tiny details that reveal both Chris' altered state and the core stability that never leaves him.
Continue reading: American Sniper Review
Jack Marcus is an eccentric English teacher at a prep school in the country who used to be intensely passionate about his line of work. However, over the years he has become increasingly demotivated by his students' lack of zest; they're well-behaved and polite, but not enthusiastic enough for Jack who spends most of his time drinking away his troubles when he's not working. The school has just employed a new art teacher called Dina Delsanto, who is also bitter about how her life has turned out considering she was once one of the top abstract artists in her field. Jack is facing losing his job if his performance review suffers, but he finds himself deeply attracted to Dina and filled with a new passion as he sets out to prove to the haughty artist that words are much more meaningful than pictures. As the two engage in a creative battle, it seems their lives are quickly becoming reinvigorated.
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Once again, director Clint Eastwood lurks in the background, springing a stunningly atmospheric thriller on...