Universal via Everett Collection
Lone Survivor isn't a film for the faint of heart. It's a film that beats you down and only lets you up for a few precious moments before the credits roll, but that emotional throttling is what helps make the film such a powerful experience.
Peter Berg's Lone Survivor tells the story of Operation Red Wings, primarily focusing on a group of four Navy SEALs who are sent to the mountains of Afganistan to capture or kill a member of the Taliban. The plan goes wrong, and the team has to fight for their lives to escape the enemy-infested area. The film does a marvelous job of ratcheting up the tension before collapsing into its main action sequence, one that is as thrilling as it is unsettling. The long sequence brings forth memories of the infamous D-Day opening of Saving Private Ryan, except this film's fire-fight stretches out the violence like a medieval torture device. The langourous scene is, at times, hard to sit through. Each moment slips by in coiled tension. It's undoubtedly uncomfortable, and the film makes a point to never make the violence fun or enticing. The action isn't consequence-free, and every bullet fired carries weight, making the scenes brutal and unrelenting because of it. The film takes on the aura of a horror movie that wants you to feel every second that ticks by, and director Berg makes sure that a pressing hopelessness starts to weigh on the viewer just as it does on the soldiers.
Mark Wahlberg is plenty capable as Marcus Lutrell, a member of the SEAL unit that is sent on the mission. The supporting cast plays its parts admirably by believably infusing a diverse set of personalities and values into the soldiers, while still keeping them in tune with the same military culture that governs much of their thoughts and actions. There's a great scene where a difficult decision has to be made, and the viewer gets to see the different directions to which some of the character's moral compasses are tuned. Sometimes the right thing can mean different things to different people when the risk of death is on the table. The real standout in the cast is Ben Foster, whose SO2 Matthew Alexson swirls with barely contained fury. He is darkly intense and has electric screen presence that really starts to manifest when the bullets star flying and things become dire.
Universal via Everett Collection
For all the good will that the film builds up in its first and second act, the final third of the film hits some snags as history demands that the story take itself to a different location, sacrificing some of the tension that it has built up. In the last 30 minutes of the film, there are some odd tonal choices that don't gel with the tension brimming in the first half. A comedic scene involving a language barrier stands out in particular.
The movie makes a point to steer clear of any political judgment, and it doesn't try to lay blame for the botched mission on any one head. And while the film never outwardly states and opinion on the conflicts that America found itself embroiled in during this time period, the searing brutality depicted in the movie highlight that no one should be subjected to the pain that these men were faced with. Made abundantly clear is the soldiers' willingness to drop everything and serve their country the best way they know how. Lone Survivor tries to honor the soldier, but not glorify war.
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Lone Survivor is at its best when it makes you feel the worst. It gives soldiers their due reverence by showcasing the true terror of the battlefield, and while the film does start to sag a bit in its third act, it's still more than worth the experience in order understand the consequences of war, and its toll on the people in the trenches.
Here is a profile of a Manhattan mom who loves only one thing more than her children: preparing for the apocalypse. Behind her gigantic shoe closet packed with rows of Jimmy Choos and Louboutins, there is a gorgeous panic room that is unrivaled in New York City. It's full of gas masks, canned goods, Cipro (in case Junior gets a sniffle), radiation detectors, Rapture-proof suits, an elaborate water purification system that runs on hot air and houewife spit, a Bible, the complete I Love Lucy library on DVD (they're going to need something to watch), a flat screen TV (for Lucy), and 14 magnums of champagne in their own fridge that is run by a self-contained generator. No, this is not Doomsday Preppers, this is ¡Que Viva!'s Closet, a show about the lifestyles of rich and famous whackadoos who think that the end of the world is near.
Can you believe that ¡Que Viva! is a Doomsday Prepper? Actually, yes I can. This is the thing about ¡Que Viva! that I've learned over three short episodes: she is absolutely nuts. That is about the only interesting thing that we learned last night on the episode of Real Taint Scratchers of Crazy Village. But she's not crazy in the way you think she's crazy. Let me break it down for you, like she breaks down her own urine while waiting in her Luxury Bunker and turns it back into drinking water (there is a bit of alchemy involved). ¡Que Viva! really badly wants to come off as normal. She wants everyone to see this nice, Jewish girl with blond hair and a little bit of work done around the head and neck region and think that she's all wonderful and polished and elaborately manicured like the tail of Standard Poodle. But she's not, she's nuttier than a Fruit Cage (which is the name of Andy Cohen's Hamptons home). It's not because she's all, "Because I got my leg chopped off by a manure machine I'm not scared of flying and subways and being trapped in places and heights and machines and Transformers movies and did you know that the Mayans say that 2012 is the end of the world and I can't possibly be in a sunken living room because I feel like I'm never going to crawl out again and oh, God, is that macrame, I just can't, please take it down because all those knots make me sick to my stomach and I think I'm going to hurl oh and I'm afraid of throwing up. Yup, it's definitely coming, where's your bathroom. Oh shit, I'm gonna puke. FFaopiwhgpwoieghaWer."
That is the crazy ¡Que Viva! wants you think she has. This is the crazy she puts on display so that you don't see what's lurking below. This is the trash in the Death Star's compactor so that you don't see the tentacle monster lashing in the murk below. The crazy that ¡Que Viva! has is an ever shifting crazy that accommodates the insanity around her. It's like a retrovirus, as soon as you think you have her crazy figured out, she goes and changes it like she changed her son's first name. She changed her kid's damn name! That is the darkness that misfires in the folds of her brain. Then she insisted that her husband not wear a wedding ring because she thinks more girls would hit on him if they knew he was married. Then, at boozy brunch my total favorite Sonja Morgan took a sip of her bellini and a drag off her imaginary cigarette (because in my mind Sonja T. Morgan is always wearing opera gloves and smoking an imaginary cigarette) and said, "Oh, honey, if he was wearing that ring when you met him in Bed Bath & Beyoncé you never would have pulled him over to that hard sample bed with the Nautica duvet and showed him that special trick you do with your prosthetic, now would you? And it wouldn't have stopped me, honey. I would have hit on it either way, so you might as well just put a ring on it because, well, you just should."
Then ¡Que Viva! goes to the jewelry store and does it. She is convinced by Sonja Morgan, Slut Whisperer, into buying her husband a ring for no particularly good reason, but only because she has been called out and must adapt. She's like a midochondrian of melodrama. She's just stone cold loco en la tete. That's what she is. And then, after Sonja convinced her about the ring, she takes Ramona to the jewelry store to help one out because she is a "jewelry expert." Oh please. If Ramona Singer is a jewelry expert, that Chef Boyardee is an Italian cuisine master with three Micheline stars. But ¡Que Viva! thinks that she's getting some entré into the blingosphere because she's letting Ramona's eyes (that never need a loop to determine the purity of a diamond) take her to a jewelry store. It's like the time she went shopping for creepy dolls with Marie Osmond.
Sigh, ¡Que Viva! A million scattered sighs like your million quaking neuroses, clattering up against each other like stones on the shore, burnished to a high polish after the years and years of anxiety washing over them in waves. Stop trying to appear normal, because we all know that when you take off your mask, you look like that scary librarian in Ghostbusters.
Know who is not crazy? Carole Radziwill, my new best friend forever and ever. She is just so freaking cool. All the girls are like "Oh, we can't possibly take the subway," not because there is something wrong with the subway, but because they think that they can't take the subway. Like there is something that makes them better by submitting themselves to the utter inconvenience of sitting in traffic with a driver. Carole is just like, "You bitches be stupid. I'm buying you all MetroCards for Christmas and you are going to take the damn subway. And don't wear leather shorts when you come downtown. This does not make you cool. It makes you look like a hairdresser from Hoboken going out for a night in the Meatpacking District. Knock it off." That, right there, is why I want to take Carole out to lunch and talk to her about being awesome. (Carole, this is a real offer. Call me!)
Then Carole talks about how she doesn't understand how any of the women can want to be with the same man for the rest of their lives. Now, I'm sorry Sonja T. Morgan, you're still my favorite, but this is something a real slut says. We all know that Sonja is only sleeping around until she finds one many who can afford her expensive habits and keep up with her insatiable sexual desires. Once that happens, she's going to mate for life. Carole, on the other hand, is a true skank. And I do not mean that as a pejorative in any way. In my universe, skanks are totally the best, just like Carole. They're just so busy working on themselves that the men are just incidental love apparatuses that come in to satisfy them and buy them a few nice dinners before fluttering off into the sunset like an exhausted mayfly.
At lunch with Ramona and Mario she said the skankiest thing of all, "I only flirt with married guys when their wives are right there." Amazing! And that's what she does. She sits down next to Mario — who is, by all estimations, one of the more dreamy of the Househusbands even though Ramona keeps his sex organs in a Hello Kitty cookie jar on their bedside table and only lets him strap them on after two glasses of Pinot and a night of fighting with other Housewives (that's when she's at her horniest) — and she just starts flirting with him like Kelly Bensimon eying a bag of Jelly Bellies. It was sick. I loved it. I bet Carole is one of those ladies who also flirts with gay guys, just cause. Just to keep those skills keen.
OK, I better start talking about Sonja Morgan, my favorite, because I'm afraid she's going to get jealous. Now, I love Sonja and part of the reason is that she is trying to make it happen in business and, well, she might as well just open a lemonade stand on E 85th Street. She'd make as much money doing that. That is actually the perfect business plan for Sonja. She can have her intern mix the Country Time in the house and then she can sit on a little stool next to a low table with a hand-painted sign taped to it and smoke her imaginary cigarettes and tell the crowd about the time she lived in Italy with Count Chocula, the heir to a cereal fortune, for six years before she caught him making out in a secret passage guarded by a suit of armor with Boo Berry. Then she'd lean over and tell that intern, "Honey, use more ice and water. We're trying to a run a business here, honey."
That is much better advice than she got from Ramona Singer who told her to forget about her business with the toaster over cookbook (which is Sonja's equivalent of "fetch") and focus on her catering business called Sonja in the City, because it is 2003 and she just finished eating a Magnolia cupcake. Anyway, Ramona's business advice basically boils down to "Write it down in a notebook." That is the secret to Ramona's success, a little Trapper Keeper that she picked up at Duane Reade back in the day and has been scribbling away on loose leaf paper ever since. That is what launched her empire. Notebooks!
Sonja thinks this is kind of shitty advice because as unequipped as Sonja is she still knows her elbow from an apple orchard (that is an expression I just made up). So she decides to go talk to "This Heather." I love how she says that. It's like how your grandmother talks about the receptionist at her doctor's office. "This Heather told me that if I go to the pharmacy they'll have this Benadryls cream and that will help with the itching." She said it like that, like it was this random person that none of us would know. "This Heather."
Alright, so Sonja goes to visit This Heather (which I think I might call her from now on) and she's full of great advice. She tells Sonja how to fix her logo, how to brand her image, how to integrate her revenue streams, how to create a Power Point presentation, what to do with her first round of venture capital, when to file for her IPO, whether she wants to be on the NYSE or NASDAQ, how to sign up for subscription for the Wall Street Journal, and then she gives her a pair of Yummie Tummie™ (that stands for "Trade Motherf**kin' Marked, Biatch") and sends her on her way. I wanted to hate This Heather, but I might be coming around, even though her fake smile reminds me of a giant puffy cloth clown painting in my pediatrician's office that used to make me shit my Underoos.
As a reward for passing Econ 101, Prof. This Heather decides she's going to take everyone on a trip to London. Sonja is like. "Yes, please," (inhale from imaginary cigarette). "Momma needs a vacay!" This Heather calls up Carole and says, "Bitch, we're going to London. Whut! Whut!" and Carole says, "Sign me up!" OK, I am completely convinced that these "Call and let's go on a vacation" calls are totally fake. It happens on every Housemonkeys franchise and I just think it's all bunk. The producers have plotted this out months in advance. They must have. This isn't a vacation with friends, this is work. This is contractually obligated business travel. This is like going to a plant visit in Ames, Iowa. This is not party fun time.
Then, of course, This Heather calls ¡Que Viva! right when she's jewelry shopping with Ramona and doesn't invite Ramona to London. Of course she wouldn't because Ramona treated Heather like a booger that wouldn't get off her finger. And then...What?! What just happened to my TV? Why did it go black? Oh shit, Time Warner, what the hell did you do this time? "Hello, thank you for calling Time Warner Cable. If you are calling from Midtown Manhattan there is a cable outage. Sorry about the inconvenience. We're working on correcting the problem." But...But...But...Shit. Guess I'll never know what happens.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
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The veteran character actor played Palmer Woodward, the father of Heather Locklear's character on the hit show, and was beloved as Ted Adamson in soap opera Search for Tomorrow.
He also played Agent Dan Shore in The Rockford Files and Leo Hackett in L.A. Law and portrayed Jerry Ames in U.S. soap opera The Secret Storm for six years.
Tippit, who received a lung transplant in 2000, died on 28 August (09) of complications from emphysema.