The Curt Critic featured in the Wisconsin State Journal

The Curt Critic in the news: This recent Wisconsin State Journal article is validation that Liz Zélandais' quest to see all 53 Oscar-nominated films for 2013 is a fascinating enterprise worthy of public interest, rather than merely nuts.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

American Sniper - 2015 Oscar Nominee for Best 1) Picture, 2) Actor, 3) Adapted Screenplay, 4) Sound Mixing, 5) Sound Editing, 6) Film Editing

Would those of you who are using American Sniper as a launching pad for your self-serving political views please put away your big egos and little dicks so the rest of us can just watch the movie?

Let's start by addressing the political clutter around this movie. True confessions: I'm a bleeding-heart liberal who was a registered Republican for twenty years. I guess that makes me a moderate of sorts. I'm pissed off at those of all political stripes who are firing self-righteous shots across the bow of this movie and at each other, using Tweets as their pitiful ammunition. Just stop it, would you?

I'd be the first to label Director Clint Eastwood as a "right-wing tool", but the man is also a cinematic giant who—as an actor, director, and producerhas given us unforgettable theater. American Sniper falls under that banner, and considering that its setting is a war inflamed with controversy, he has not only directed a powerful and well-crafted film, but made it virtually apolitical. 

The movie, based on the autobiography of late Navy SEAL, Chris Kyle, shows his start as a boy hunting under his father's tutelage, his later time as a rodeo cowboy (during which, as a bit of foreshadowing, he was more devoted to traveling the rodeo circuit than to his girlfriend), and excerpts from his four tours of duty in Iraq while a husband and father.

Eastwood has made Chris Kyle a warmer, cuddlier guy than he probably was in real life (at least based on Kyle's own autobiographical accounts). Bradley Cooper transforms for this part, and richly deserves the best actor nomination. Cooper and Eastwood viscerally demonstrate a sense of what it is to be those military personnel in combat zones and the stresses that ultimately result in PTSD. It leaves one wondering, "How can ANYONE go through that without returning with it?"

The movie conveys the difficulties (to say the least) military families experience, and it becomes clear why there are so many divorces. To Eastwood's credit, he shows those soldiers who start out gung ho, then become completely disenchanted by the war. He also indicates an often dysfunctional chain of command that does no favors to those on the bottom of the military food chain.

Despite the masterful craftsmanship of acting and directing invested in American Sniper, it was not a movie I enjoyed watching. But it is a powerful piece of cinema I am glad that I saw.