Monday, August 10, 2020

Movie Reviews:Galveston

directed by Melanie Laurent

This 2018 neo-noir movie was the English language directorial debut of Melanie Laurent. You may remember her from her role in Inglorious Basterds as Shoshanna, the Jewish cinema owner, who is seeking revenge on the Nazis for murdering her family. 

Apparently Laurent is something of a Renaissance woman, being a director, actress and singer among other things. Anyhow you may think after reading this post that you know what Galveston is all about. 

It's definitely a story you've seen before. A bad man is forced through circumstances to defend a broken angel of a woman from even worse people. In so doing he may rediscover his own humanity, find redemption and perhaps even find some love.

And as in many films of this type a road trip is included. You've likely seen or read that story a thousand times before. I know I have. 

Galveston follows that basic outline. The best way I can describe this film visually is that it hearkens back to some late sixties early seventies films. Things are literally very dark on screen at times, reflecting some of the characters and the decisions that they make. 

This is not Hollywood action film. No one gets shot in the shoulder and declares in a deadpan manner "It went straight through. I'll be fine." When people get hurt, physically or more often emotionally, they stay hurt for a while. Laurent takes her time establishing characters reactions and feelings. There's a fair amount of silence throughout the film as we watch people react to each other, wordlessly express feelings, or just survive ordeals.

This film was an emotional gut-punch because it defied typical Hollywood conventions even as it made the viewer think that they would be upheld. This is based on a novel of the same name by Nick Pizzolatto (creator of True Detective), who also wrote the screenplay under a pseudonym. I think I would like to read that book now.  

Friday, August 7, 2020

Movie Reviews: The Outpost

The Outpost
directed by Rod Lurie
This is a war movie based on a non-fiction book by Jake Tapper that details the 2009 Battle of Kamdesh between Afghanistan Taliban forces and US Army forces. 

If you are into war movies you will like this film, no doubt. If you are not into war movies, this film might really not be your cup of tea. 

That said although there is violence aplenty, a great deal of the film details the boredom and frustration of the isolated American soldiers, the stress they feel and their distaste for what appear to be foolish or even contradictory orders. But orders are orders. 

The US brain trust at the time apparently felt that it needed to have a lighter touch in Afghanistan while simultaneously maintaining the ability to respond quickly and decisively to Taliban activity. That might have been a good idea, strategically. But the implementation of that  went wrong at Combat Outpost Keating.

One of the stated objectives of the troop at Combat Outpost Keating was to engage the local population in community building and thus turn the locals against the Taliban. The other objective was evidently of course to kill Taliban. These two goals could occasionally be in conflict since many of the locals were Taliban or at least sympathetic to Taliban.