America's leader President Barack Obama and one of his predecessors Bill Clinton have joined the authors and celebrities around the world paying tribute to Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who died on Thursday (17Apr14). The One Hundred Days of Solitude writer, a Nobel Prize winner, died in Mexico City, aged 87, and the literary world is mourning his passing, but political leaders have also released statements honouring Marquez.
Obama writes, "With the passing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the world has lost one of its greatest visionary writers - and one of my favorites from the time I was young... I offer my thoughts to his family and friends, whom I hope take solace in the fact that Gabo's work will live on for generations to come."
And Clinton, who previously called the author his "literary hero" adds, "From the time I read One Hundred Years of Solitude more than 40 years ago, I was always amazed by his unique gifts of imagination, clarity of thought, and emotional honesty... I was honored to be his friend and to know his great heart and brilliant mind for more than 20 years."
Meanwhile Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos offers, "A thousand years of loneliness and sadness for the death of the greatest Colombian of all time!"
Tributes from Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and literary heavyweights Ian McEwan and Mario Vargas Llosa, who famously feuded with Marquez, have also been posted online.
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.
The 74 year old will collect his $1.5 million (£1 million) cash prize in Stockholm, Sweden in December (10).
Vargas Llosa reveals he thought the honour was a joke when he first heard he'd won: "I did not expect this. It has certainly been a total surprise, a very pleasant surprise, but a surprise nonetheless."
The writer becomes the first Latin American to win the award since Colombian Gabriel Garcia Marquez in 1982.
His bestsellers include Conversation in the Cathedral, The Green House and Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter.