What the success of American Sniper says about America

I have not seen, and do not plan to see, this film about a real life sniper Chris Kyle who apparently has the deadliest kill record in US military history. While some critics say that Clint Eastwood’s film portrays war in a complex way, it may have been too nuanced because the public seems to have reacted to it with jingoistic pride at the way that Kyle gunned people down in the war in Iraq, making it a huge success at the box office. The fact that Eastwood put the word ‘American’ in the title seemed to me that he was saying that Kyle somehow represented America and this undoubtedly would have colored people’s perceptions to think of this film as an exercise in patriotism.
[Read more…]

Why I likely will not see Selma

Today is the day that the US commemorates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man whom I admire greatly and have written about before many times so will not repeat those views. But I will likely not be going to see the new film Selma, that deals with the civil rights struggle of which he was such a big part and uses a key event of that struggle to tell the story, even though the film has been praised.
[Read more…]

Film review: The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014)

This is the story of two restaurants directly across the street from each other in a small French town. One is run by a Frenchwoman (played by Helen Mirren), a long time resident of the town who is proud that her restaurant is a well-known and classy place that has earned a much-coveted place in the Michelin guidebook of fine restaurants. But it has just a one star rating and she lusts after being promoted to two stars. The other is a new restaurant run by an Indian family that decided to start a new life there after their van broke down. Mirren resents the presence of such a déclassé establishment next to hers and tries to ensure that they fail and leave.
[Read more…]

How did they do that?

Stephen Colbert is a huge fan of the Hobbit world created by J. R. R. Tolkien and is familiar with the most minute aspects of it. When I saw that he was going to interview Smaug (apparently is a character in some of the books) I thought it would be someone dressed as the character and was wondering whether it would be worth watching since I am not a big fan of the books or the films. I am glad that I did because it was really something to see.
[Read more…]

Why we are easily fooled by film doubles

In films, the star is often replaced by a double in many situations, either because the task involved is too dangerous to risk injury or the star simply cannot or will not do what the role requires. We in the audience almost never notice the switching back and forth. One might think that this is solely due to the care that the film makers take to make sure the double has the same build as the star and is made up to have the same exterior appearance in terms of clothes and hair, and by avoiding close ups of the face.
[Read more…]

Review: Doc Martin

A colleague recommended this British TV series to me a long time ago but I only got around to watching it over the past long weekend and I was immediately hooked, ending up watching the better part of the first two seasons, about 12 episodes in all. I plan to watch the remaining ones in the days to come. The series began in 2004 and there have been a total of 46 episodes spread over six seasons and the coming season is supposed to be the last one.
[Read more…]

Chris Rock talks about race and class and politics

The comedian was interviewed by Frank Rich prior to the release of his new film Top Five. The interview has been widely commented on because Rock says many things that are likely to make people uncomfortable and that is unusual for celebrities who typically do not talk politics for fear of offending anyone. Here’s a sample:
[Read more…]