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1917

1917

1917 is a quality movie that led me to some dark thoughts. If the story doesn’t trigger lasting thoughts for you about men and war, then fine, just enjoy this good movie. The quality came from director Sam Mendes and the two fine actors who carry the film.

Blake (Dean Charles Chapman) is chosen to deliver a crucial message to the war front. Schofield (George MacKay) joins Blake and the entire movie unfolds as they carry the message that will, if they are successful, stop the Allies from attacking the Germans who are secretly hidden as they wait for the arrival of their enemy. 1600 men will live or die depending on their success or failure.

We follow the messengers through trenches that are littered with dead bodies, dead horses, blood-soaked dirt, and body parts. Their hideous walk is what we watch while fear grows in us that these two might not reach their goal. After an hour of watching them run, crawl, and climb in fear, a wave of anger spread through me and I ask your tolerance while I switch to talking about that.

Anger surged because the movie triggered the truth. As the two men lead us through a mass of recently destroyed bodies and equipment, the whole of it sinks into us. Here we are in yet another war like all the others that unfold when men reach an impasse. Pride kicks into leaders. War comes. We listen here to men talking and barking short orders about how to handle the German lines in the fewest of words: “Just kill them all.” When nations can’t agree, men kill.

1917 is more than a movie. It is a sharp slap at us in a time when many countries now possess the weaponry to destroy whole countries. Still, we respond to deadlock with physical force.

When the problem that confronts male leaders appears to be deadly, they usually issue the orders to respond with bombs. Physical action is the only weapon left to leaders even when it kills thousands of young soldiers. Given a suicidal order by his commanding officer, a young man replies, “Thank you, sir. Goodbye Sir.”

Think of it: our massacre of the Indians, World War I, the Korean War, Iraq. What positives were gained by those wars? With the historical perspective now available, the world is now blaming the administration in office at the time. In every one of those wars, young men who survived were affected for the rest of their lives and many never lived to go home.

During the two hours of watching destroyed towns, vehicles, and dead bodies covered in blood, we wonder how even the young survivors can re-enter their pre-war lives of families and friends who were untouched by what they experienced. Why do we allow single officers defending their superiority to make decisions that kill thousands? There might be another way. Should women make war decisions? Why not try that?

Film Critic : Joan Ellis
Film Title : 1917
Word Count : 500
Running Time : 1:59
Rating : R
Date : January 26, 2020

This review was posted on January 26, 2020, in Drama, War.

Uncut Gems

Uncut Gems

It is my great pleasure today to write a review of the worst movie I have ever seen. This will be a special challenge because the actors, the directing, and even the premise are all good. Here’s the problem. For the first half hour, we watch Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) as he runs through streets, buildings, and underground tunnels. Yes, the photography is good and no, we learn little about who he is or what he is doing.

At long last, a box containing rare opals embedded in a rock arrives. From this point forward, that small rock is the trigger for all the action that unfolds. As the movie goes on, impatience becomes the ruling emotion for the audience. What unfolds is a constant battle among various men who want the jewels as they chase each other through underground passages while screaming obscenities.

It’s not an exaggeration to report that the F-word and the S-word are shouted in nearly every sentence that comes forth from every man and woman. I have no problem with those words, using them in my own impatient moments, but in this movie, they drown out all conversation and obliterate the possibility of our learning what the movie is supposed to be about. When I asked audience members afterward how many times those words were shouted, they replied between 200 and 400 times in two and a half hours. It’s the constant screaming of these words that prevents us from understanding who the characters are in relation to each other. All yelled at high pitch, those words obliterate the plot.

Then there’s the problem of a hideous string of racial insults that flow through the swearing. We know already that all the men in the plot are selfish, cruel, and criminal. What we don’t understand is why there is no counter force at all. Is there one man with a decent motivation? No. One man who isn’t a criminal? No. They are so alike in language and behavior that we can never figure out which men have what intentions.

The material destruction of people and buildings occurs throughout the noise. Who are the good guys? There aren’t any. Are all these men and two women fighting, killing, and screaming over that one rock? Yes. If you go because of the host of positive reviews, ask yourself if you can find one speck of decency in the entire movie.

Who to blame? Writers Ronald Bronstein and Benny Safdie? Directors Benny and Josh Safdie? Actors Adam Sandler, Julia Fox, Idina Menzel and a host of others who create the crowd of villains who yell throughout the movie to create what can only be called a nightmare? Soak up the jewelry store where a lot of this unfolds and you will understand what’s coming in the final scenes.

Over two hours of unrelieved swearing and brutality await you and rumor has it that Adam Sandler will be an Oscar nominee for this role. Ouch.

Film Critic : Joan Ellis
Film Title : Uncut Gems
Word Count : 502
Running Time : 2:15
Rating : R
Date : 12 January 2020