Scott and Ralph (Sutherland and Downey), two small-town class-of-67 high school graduates, venture off to college to sow some wild oats and stay one step ahead of the draft board. But when Ralph is expelled from school, he suddenly becomes a prime candidate for serving in his country's armed forces. And when the lifelong friends take drastic and illegal measures to ensure Ralph's freedom, they trigger a chain of events that will forever change their friendship, their lives and how a town thinks of war.
Africa Unite (2008), Director: Stephen Black, Running time: 89 minutes.
AFRICA UNITE is a singular and masterfully executed film that is at once concert tribute, Marley family travelogue, and humanitarian documentary, igniting the screen with the spirit of world renowned reggae icon BOB MARLEY in its every frame. In commemoration of Bob’s 60th birthday, Africa Unite is centered on the Marleys’ first time ever family trip to Ethiopia in 2005. Includes rare archival footage of world renowned reggae icon Bob Marley. There in the capital city of Addis Ababa three generations of Marleys take part in a 12 hour concert like no other, attended by more than 300,000 people from around the world, with the ultimate purpose of inspiring the young generations of Africa to unite for the future of their continent. Features exuberant on stage spots as well as a soundtrack brimming with Bob Marley studio classics. Includes appearances by UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, actor Danny Glover, world music sensation Angelique Kidjo, Bob Marley’s mother Mrs. Booker, and Princess Mary, granddaughter of Emperor Haile Selassie.
All of Us (2008), Director: Emily Abt
IAll of ntelligent, moving documentary about a dedicated young female Ethiopian-American doctor exploring the reasons for the frighteningly high rates of HIV infection among poor African-American women. Eventually she returns to her family homeland and finds much the same situation there. Along the way she discovers things not only about the disease, but about how women of all races and classes -- including herself --deal with men, power, and sexuality. We also get to know a couple of her patients, and their journey. Not a perfect film, but very worthwhile for managing to be powerfully personal and political, sad and hopeful, all at the same time. And its inspiring to see a a film about a real, unglamorous, young, not-famous, African-American heroine who is making a difference in the world - sadly not a common subject for films. I hope this finds an audience. Right now it's being distributed by 'Neoflix', a service that helps filmmakers market directly. K. Gordon
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), Director: Lewis Milestone, Running time: 132 minutes.
If a classic movie can be measured by the number of indelible images it burns into the collective imagination, then All Quiet on the Western Front's status is undisputed. Since its release in 1930 (and Oscar win for best picture), this film's saga of German boys avidly signing up for World War I battle—and then learning the truth of war—has been acclaimed for its intensity, artistry, and grown-up approach. Director Lewis Milestone's technical expertise is already stunning in the great opening sequence, as a professor exhorts his students to volunteer for the glory of the Fatherland while troops march past the windows. Erich Maria Remarque's novel is faithfully followed, but Milestone's superbly composed frames make it physical: the first battle scene, with the camera prowling the trenches as they fill with death and chaos, was surely the Saving Private Ryan of its day. The cast is strong, with little-known Lew Ayres finding stardom in the lead (Ayres became a pacifist and conscientious objector during World War II; and although he served in battle as a medic, the stance harmed his career). (Robert Horton for Amazon.com)
Based on Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, this is a controversial addition to the multitude of Vietnam war movies in existence. We follow Captain Willard on his mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade Green Beret who has set himself up as a God among a local tribe. Notes taken by Coppola's wife have recently been used to create "Hearts Of Darkness"—a fascinating and revealing account of the making of this movie. (Colin Tinto for IMBd)
Arlington West: The Film (2005), Directors: Sally Marr and Peter Dudar, Running time: 74 minutes.
Arlington West contains interviews with soldiers and Marines en route to and returning from the war in Iraq, plus interviews with military families. The film features a "temporary cemetery" in the sand, erected every Sunday by the Veterans for Peace in Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, Oceanside and other locations. A flag draped coffin, and over 3,800 wooden crosses, affectionately placed on the beach, invites the public to honor the unacknowledged fallen U.S. soldiers and laments the cost of the war.
The atomic bomb changed the world forever, and this wonderful film shows how Americans expressed wonder over atomic weapons and then suffered from the pervasive fear that America would be on the receiving end of a Soviet nuclear attack. Atomic Cafe is a brilliant compilation of archival film clips beginning with the first atomic bomb detonation in the New Mexico desert. The footage, much of it produced as government propaganda, follows the story of the bomb through the two atomic attacks on Japan that ended World War II to the bomb's central role in the cold war. Shown along with the famous "duck and cover" Civil Defense films are lesser-known clips, many of which possess a bizarre black humor when seen today, and it's easy to see why this film, which was produced in the early 1980s, became a cult classic sometimes referred to as the "nuclear Reefer Madness." Bellicose congressmen are shown advocating a freewheeling policy of nuclear strikes against China during the Korean War, suburban families are shown enjoying the comforts of their bomb shelters, and footage of a boy trying to bicycle to a bomb shelter in a "bomb survival suit" his father designed is priceless. Atomic Cafe is at once clever and poignant, a canny and offbeat look at a significant period in American history. (Robert J. McNamara for Amazon.com)
Russian soldier Alyosha Skvortsov is granted a visit with his mother after he singlehandedly fends off two enemy tanks. As he journeys home, Alyosha encounters the devastation of his war-torn country, witnesses glimmers of hope among the people, and falls in love. With its poetic visual imagery, Grigori Chukhrai's Ballad of a Soldier is an unconventional meditation on the effects of war, and a milestone in Russian cinema.
A Helicopter approaches the US war ship and deposits a writer Ben Munceford (Sidney Poitier) and a naval doctor Lt. Cmdr. Chester Potter, MD (Martin Balsam). It is the peak of the cold war and the last thing this ship or captain Eric Finlander (Richard Widmark) needs is a writer or a doctor. In fact both will prove to be a burden as the ship's high strung and efficient crew is out to find a soviet sub, any soviet sub, where it does not belong. The captain has a history of forcing soviet subs to the surface in embarrassing locations. The captain's companion is Commodore Wolfgang Schrepke, German Navy (Eric Portman), an expert on submarine tactics.
A strange, confusing, and confident picture from the Macedonian director Milcho Manchevski. He has the sensibility of someone who has seen quite enough to rid him of political illusion; watching the film, you'd never guess that he's only thirty-five. The first and third parts are set in Macedonia, where a young monk (Gregoire Colin) harbors a refugee (Labina Mitevska) from the local Albanian minority. His uncle, the chunky and fearless Aleksandar (Rade Serbedzija), has come home to get some peace. Not a chance: this is a place where villages are torn in two. The middle section, a scrap of a love affair set in London, is less successful, although even here the editing is so beautifully paced that Manchevski makes you sense fault lines running all over the world. He sees through hope and bigotry alike, and even when his complex rotary narrative makes no logical sense it never stops making emotional sense. (The New Yorker)
Belarusian Waltz (2009), Director: Andrzej Fidyk, Running time: 74 minutes.
Belarus has been called "Europe's last dictatorship." Since 1994, Alexander Lukashenko has ruled the ex-Soviet republic with a despotic hand, jailing the opposition, shutting down the press and refusing to investigate the assassinations of dissidents. He has virtually silenced his critics - except for one lone performance artist who stages public stunts mocking the dictator's pretensions. BELARUSIAN WALTZ is the story of Alexander Pushkin, whose audacious, comical exploits have earned him the hostility of the police and the consternation of his family. An offbeat tale in which post-modern street theater meets 1930s-style authoritarianism, the film offers a surprising window into the soul of the Belarusian people. - A witty study of stunt-art protesting the dictatorship. Per Haddal, Aftenposten, Oslo
Three WWII veterans return home to small-town America to discover that they and their families have been irreparably changed.
Beyond the Call/The Motherhood Manifesto/The Interview with Jody Williams (2006), Directed by Laura Pacheco, Turk Pipkin and Adrian Belic, Running time: 150 minutes.
Beyond the Call by Adrian Belic is a modern day adventure story of three ordinary men who go to extraordinary lengths to help those in need. The film, which did well at Tribeca and San Francisco follows the work of Knightsbridge as its three founders go to some of the most dangerous places on earth to bring aid to those in need. This film is a cross between Indiana Jones and Mother Theresa. The film is well worth seeing but it can be somewhat difficult to acquire. If given the chance by all means see it. I have been told that a more commercial version of this film will be released in April 2008.
The second film, The Motherhood Manifesto, explores the grass roots efforts to improve children's rights and to end discrimination against mothers. The film is based on the book of the same title by Joan Blades and Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner. It presents its points in a clear concise fashion and should be required watching for anyone interested in childcare or children's health issues.
The Interview with Jody Williams is from the film Nobelity. The film is a collection of interviews with Nobel Peace Prize winners. Williams won the prize in 1997 for her campaign to ban land mines. The point of this segment is that peace can come about through change.
The idle son of a rich businessman joins the army when the U.S.A. enters World War One. He is sent to France, where he becomes friends with two working-class soldiers. He also falls in love with a Frenchwoman, but has to leave her to move to the frontline. (Written by Philip Apps for IMDb)
Birdy (1984), Director: Alan Parker, Running Time: 120 Minutes.
Based on William Wharton's transcendent novel of the same name, this film is about many things: friendship, war, and of course, birds. The framing device is an effort by a horribly scarred combat soldier (Nicolas Cage) to break through to his best friend, Birdy (Matthew Modine), hospitalized after seemingly being driven mad by fighting in the Vietnam War. Cage then flashes back to their boyhood, where Birdy, a canary aficionado, was considered the school weirdo but managed to be a solid companion nonetheless. Directed by Alan Parker, it works best as a coming-of-age story, but misses the bizarre psychological transferences of the book, in which Birdy imagines himself within the world of canaries he creates in his bedroom at his parents' house. Modine is fine as an out-of-it misfit enraptured by his own little universe. (Marshall Fine, Amazon)
Black Hawk Down (2001), Director: Ridley Scott, Running time: 144 minutes.
Scott's Black Hawk Down conveys the raw, chaotic urgency of ground-force battle in a worst-case scenario. With exacting detail, the film re-creates the American siege of the Somalian city of Mogadishu in October 1993, when a 45-minute mission turned into a 16-hour ordeal of bloody urban warfare. Helicopter-borne U.S. Rangers were assigned to capture key lieutenants of Somali warlord Muhammad Farrah Aidid, but when two Black Hawk choppers were felled by rocket-propelled grenades, the U.S. soldiers were forced to fend for themselves in the battle-torn streets of Mogadishu, attacked from all sides by armed Aidid supporters. Based on author Mark Bowden's bestselling account of the battle, Scott's riveting, action-packed film follows a sharp ensemble cast in some of the most authentic battle sequences ever filmed. The loss of 18 soldiers turned American opinion against further involvement in Somalia, but Black Hawk Down makes it clear that the men involved were undeniably heroic. (Jeff Shannon for Amazon.com)
Amid the explosive civil war overtaking 1999 Sierra Leone, these men join for two desperate missions: recovering a rare pink diamond of immense value and rescuing the fisherman's son, conscripted as a child soldier into the brutal rebel forces ripping a swath of torture and bloodshed across the alternately beautiful and ravaged countryside. Directed by Edward Zwick (Glory, The Last Samurai), this urgent, intensely moving adventure shapes gripping human stories and heart-pounding action into a modern epic of profound impact.
Before the war starts, Kovic, played by Tom Cruise, is a normal American kid, going to school, hanging out with his friends, and bagging groceries for pocket money. But as the Vietnam conflict begins to impact the lives of everyone around him, the patriotic teenager decides to enlist. Although his father (Raymond J. Berry) is not happy with his decision, his mother (Caroline Kava) could hardly be more enthusiastic.
Once in combat, Kovic becomes disillusioned with his commanding officer (John Getz) who dismisses the fact that Kovic accidentally shot one of his own men in combat. Shortly thereafter, Kovic is paralyzed from the chest down by a bullet in the spine. He must begin a lengthy and excruciatingly painful rehabilitation, which includes a period in the shockingly negligent Bronx Veteran's Hospital. He finally returns to his hometown, now a confused, embittered, and alienated man. His family is also unsettled, unsure about how to deal with this very changed person. After a dissipated spree with other disabled vets like Charlie (Willem Dafoe), Kovic begins talking to antiwar activists like Donna (Kyra Sedgwick) and starts to reevaluate his thinking. (MovieWeb)
In 1910, the Australian government passed a law requiring all boys aged between 14 and 17 years to register for compulsory military training. Between 1911 and 1915 more than 30,000 boys were prosecuted for failing to obey this law. Boy Soldiers tells the story of Will Barnes (Tamblyn Lord), a brave 14-year-old conscientious objector who refuses to register, is prosecuted and sent to compulsory training at Fort Queenscliff. Life is made very difficult, but Will sticks to his beliefs and wins the admiration of many for his bravery and strength of character.
Breaker Morant (1979), Director: Bruce Beresford, Running time: 107 minutes.
Winner of 10 Australian Academy Awards, this powerful film directed by the Oscar®-nominated Bruce Beresford (Tender Mercies, Driving Miss Daisy) continues to stir audiences with its timeless themes of wartime morality and military hypocrisy. Based on a true story, Edward Woodward stars as the controversial folk hero and Renaissance man Lt. Harry, "Breaker" Morant. As South Africa's Boer War draws to a close, Morant and two fellow Australian soldiers are court-martialed for murder. Their only hope lies in a small-town lawyer who fights passionately for their lives.
The Burmese Harp (1967), Director: Kon Ichikawa, Running time: 116 minutes.
Kon Ichikawa's Buddhist tale of peace, The Burmese Harp, is universally relevant in various eras and cultures, although it comments specifically on the destruction of Burma during World War II. Based on the novel by Michio Takeyama, The Burmese Harp stars a Japanese platoon stationed in Burma whose choir skills are inspired by their star musician, Private Mizushima (Rentaro Mikuni), who strums his harp to cheer the homesick soldiers. As the troop surrenders to the British and is interned in Mudon prison camp, Mizushima escapes to be faced with not only his imminent death, but also the deaths of thousands of other soldiers and civilians. Relinquishing his life as a military man, Mizushima retreats into a life of Buddhist prayer, dedicating himself to healing a wounded country. Filmed in black and white, strong visual contrasts heighten the divide between peace, war, life, and death in this highly symbolic film. Scenes in which the Japanese soldiers urge opposing forces to sing with them portray military men regardless of alliance as emotionally sensitive. Showing the humanistic aspects of war, such as the male bonding that occurs between soldiers, doesn't justify war as much as deepens its tragedy. This release includes interviews with the director and with Mikuni, further contextualizing its place in Japanese cinema. The Burmese Harp, with its lessons in compassion and selflessness, is so transformative that viewing it feels somewhat akin to a religious experience. (Trinie Dalton for Amazon.com)
Buying the War examines the press coverage in the lead-up to the war as evidence of a paradigm shift in the role of journalists in democracy and asks, four years after the invasion, what's changed? "More and more the media become, I think, common carriers of administration statements and critics of the administration," says The Washington Post's Walter Pincus. "We've sort of given up being independent on our own."