Tag: navy

***2015 RECAP*** MOVIE REVIEW | American Sniper (2015)

Sniper

“If you think that this war isn’t changing you, you’re wrong. You can only circle the flames so long.”

I think I’m probably in the majority as someone who had never really heard of or noticed Bradley Cooper until the Hangover. As good and as funny as that movies was (if only the same could be said for the sequels), I also think I’m in the majority as someone who never really expected a prestige, Oscar laden career for Cooper. But here we are, with his third nomination in as many years. Even more impressive, all three have been for completely different performances. Depressed and suicidal in Silver Linings Playbook, to put upon with a small man complex in American Hustle, to PTSD riddled killer, in American Sniper.


Growing up tough in Texas, Chris Kyle (Cooper) lives for nothing more than rodeo riding and picking up chicks. Until one night, watching the news, he sees the report of a terrorist attack on a US embassy. He immediately gets his patriot up and enlists with the Navy. At 30, he defies the odds and makes it through the elite training to become a Navy Seal. Meeting Taya (Sienna Miller) in a local bar, they’re soon married, just in time for the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre and wars to be declared in Afghanistan and Iraq. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | American Sniper (2015)

Sniper

“If you think that this war isn’t changing you, you’re wrong. You can only circle the flames so long.”

I think I’m probably in the majority as someone who had never really heard of or noticed Bradley Cooper until the Hangover. As good and as funny as that movies was (if only the same could be said for the sequels), I also think I’m in the majority as someone who never really expected a prestige, Oscar laden career for Cooper. But here we are, with his third nomination in as many years. Even more impressive, all three have been for completely different performances. Depressed and suicidal in Silver Linings Playbook, to put upon with a small man complex in American Hustle, to PTSD riddled killer, in American Sniper.


Growing up tough in Texas, Chris Kyle (Cooper) lives for nothing more than rodeo riding and picking up chicks. Until one night, watching the news, he sees the report of a terrorist attack on a US embassy. He immediately gets his patriot up and enlists with the Navy. At 30, he defies the odds and makes it through the elite training to become a Navy Seal. Meeting Taya (Sienna Miller) in a local bar, they’re soon married, just in time for the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre and wars to be declared in Afghanistan and Iraq. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

Poster_-_Mutiny_on_the_Bounty_(1935)

“But there’s another story, Captain Bligh, of ten cocoanuts and two cheeses. A story of a man who robbed his seamen, cursed them, flogged them, not to punish but to break their spirit. A story of greed and tyranny, and of anger against it, of what it cost”.

Clarke Gable as Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind is one of those iconic performances that will live on forever. Clarke Gable in It Happened One Night is one I only saw for the first time a few years ago, but it immediately proved to me that his work in Gone With the Wind was no fluke. He is one watchable, charismatic, charming son of a bitch. Which is why I thought it was time I saw a bit more of his work, starting with Mutiny on the Bounty.


“In December, 1787, HMS Bounty lay in Portsmouth harbour on the eve of departure for Tahiti in the uncharted waters of the Great South Sea. The Bounty’s mission was to procure breadfruit trees for transplanting to the West Indies as cheap food for slaves. Neither ship nor breadfruit reached the West Indies. Mutiny prevented it. Mutiny against the abuse of the harsh eighteenth century sea law. But this mutiny, famous in history and legend, helped bring about a new discipline based upon mutual respect between officers and men, by which Britain’s sea power is maintained as security for all who pass upon the seas”. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Sink the Bismark! (1960)

sink-the-bismarck
Here’s a move that wastes no time.  Opening with actual German archival footage of the real Bismark being launched, Sink the Bismark! makes it clear that this ship is like nothing any navy had ever seen.  And unfortunately, it belongs to the Germans, not the allies.  Coinciding with this sea threat, is the promotion of Captain Sam Shepard (Kenneth More) to the British Admiralty’s Chief of Operations.  He’s now the dude who basically commands the entire Naval fleet.  And his first job is to…  Well…  Sink the Bismark (see what I did there?).


Actually, his first job is to make us, the audience, see him is an uptight, by the book, asshole.  On his first day on the job, he cracks it over people slightly out of uniform, eating at the their desk and using each other’s first names.  If only there was a tragic back story to justify his attempts at emotional isolation.  Oh wait, there is, and it’s super clunky, predictable and on the nose.  But that’s OK, because the rest of the movie is good enough to distract you from it.

Following a series if sea skirmishes, Sink the Bismark! goes from one display of the titular boat’s might to another.  In its first test, the Bismark effortlessly takes out two allied destroyers.  The rest of the movie follows Shepard’s process figuring out how to take on this new threat that is like nothing anyone has ever faced before.

It’s different to see a war movie where the main character is so far removed from the actual fighting.  It also means much of the action is far removed from the actual ‘action’.  While the crews of the British Naval ships are largely interchangeable and just there to play a cameo in the story, More’s Captain Shepard is the central figure, standing over a table of toy ships, safe and sound in his London office.

It’s a testament to the screenplay and direction that when Sink the Bismark! cuts from the guns blazing and torpedoes swimming in the Bismark’s latest battle, to Shepard and his team in their quiet and cozy office, it never feels like we’re being taken away of the action.  The tension and stress of formulating strategy and making the decisions how and when to send ships into battle, is just as action packed as the battles themselves.

While the crews of the various British ships remain pretty anonymous, the Nazis helming the Bismark get a little more time to shine.  Unfortunately, it’s in a one dimensional, comic book villain kind of way.   The German Fleet Commander, Admiral Gunther Luthjens (Karel Stepanek) was commanding the ship that sunk Shepard’s last command.

He was also commanding the fleet that bombed London, hitting Shepard’s house and killing his wife.  And he’s on board the Bismark for its maiden run of ass kicking.  I know the screenwriter really wanted to make sure we hated the crew of the Bismark and got on the side of Shepard, but I might have suffered a concussion being hit over the head with it so hard and so often.

Sink the Bismark! Is exactly what I want from an old war picture.  Repressed, stoic men, coldly going about their business of war, and the odd battle thrown in every now and again to liven things up.  The characters and their motivations get a little broad and story-convenient at times, but if you write off every movies for those reasons, there wouldn’t be too much left.

Sink the Bismark!
Directed By – Lewis Gilbert
Written By – Edmund H. North