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 Charlie's Angels star, who lost her battle with cancer last year (09), was not included on the In Memoriam list at the show on Sunday (07Mar10), which honours stars who have died in the last 12 months.
The snub sparked outrage, and executive director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Bruce Davis, subsequently apologised, saying "There's nothing you can say to people, particularly to family members, within a day or two of the show that helps at all".
But Fawcett's friends Stewart and Spelling are still berating Oscars chiefs over the decision, and for excluding late stars Bea Arthur and Jean Barry from the list but including Michael Jackson - even though he was better known for his music.
Spelling tells U.S. talk show host Larry King, "I was very surprised. I also was surprised with Jean Barry and Bea Arthur. Bea Arthur was excluded. She was in at Annie Mame, with Lucille Ball, not the original one. She did another film or two. Because she was so well known as Maude and Golden Girls, they thought she was more television."
Stewart adds, "I think they are saying they are sorry that family members and friends are upset. It is not just family members and friends. I said that to Mr. Davis, in all due respect, today. I said, it is millions of fans. The minute she was not part of that memorial, it started on Twitter. The emails I've gotten, people are outraged by it...
"I just want to make one point. In all due respect, Michael Jackson is a huge music icon, but I believe he only did one movie."
And Van Patten, who starred with Fawcett in 2000 film The Flunky, is refusing to accept Academy Awards bosses' apology, insisting the snub "is unforgivable."
The 44-year-old actor fell out with his dad in 2007 following a fight at the family home, which ended with Ryan firing a shotgun into the stairwell.
Griffin, who was banned from O'Neal's partner Farrah Fawcett's funeral in June (09), has sensationally blamed his dad for his lifelong battle against drugs.
He tells U.S. chat show Larry King, "I have had a lifetime of hellacious night crying, staying up too late, wondering what I did to my life. It destroyed me. It wasted many, many years of my life.
"I was 11 years old when he gave me cocaine and said we are going to see a long movie called Barry Lyndon. He said 'It is a very long movie. Maybe this will help you'. I was 11. I could never, ever do that to my child.
Griffin also slammed the 68 year old for being responsible for his sister Tatum and half-brother Redmond's drug-taking.
He adds, "Redmond hung out with Ryan a lot, because Ryan allowed the drug use. He allowed drug use in the house. They party together. They were both arrested. My dad had more dope on him than Redmond did. And that was one of the reasons me and my dad fought. I said, 'You know what? You are killing your son. I don't think you know what you're doing'.
Redmond is currently in a Los Angeles prison on drug offences, while Tatum insists she is now clean.
Van Morrison filmed his recent shows at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles -- so that ailing superfan Farrah Fawcett could watch them from her sickbed.
The actress is battling anal cancer and was too sick to make it to the concerts last week -- so she had them brought to her Malibu, California, home.
The Irish singer/songwriter's representatives have confirmed that the filmed concerts were express delivered to the Charlie's Angels star.
One tells Eonline.com, "Van is also a huge fan of Ryan (O’Neal) and Farrah's work... Farrah in The Apostle and Ryan in Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon and, of course, Love Story."
Morrison gave permission for filmmakers to use his 1987 ballad "Queen of the Slipstream" in Farrah's Story, Fawcett's documentary about her cancer battle, which will air on Friday night.
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