Our War Movie Leadership Watchalong for February is "Master and Commander". Here are the questions to be considered and discussed:
1. How would you describe Aubrey's leadership style?
2. Is Aubrey motivated more by pride or duty?
3. Contrast the philosophies of Aubrey and Maturin? Who is right?
Well another year has passed and I have to admit it was not a great year for war movies at my house. When I looked back at my list of the Best and Worst of 2011, I was envious of that year. I saw some truly wonderful movies. Unfortunately, although I watched 80 war movies this past year, the quality was much less. Plus I had to watch a lot of movies I had already seen as I worked my way to the top of the 100 Greatest list. No movie came close to the amazing “Waltz With Bashir”. Don’t get me wrong, I still love doing this blog and will continue my journey, but it just was a blah year for war movies. Here’s hoping 2013 will be better. And it will be because I plan to watch more movies that have the chance to wow me. By the way, please send me suggestions. What are your “wow” movies?
Last year I had limited my choices to movies I had not seen in five years. This year I have decided to waive that rule. Even if I had seen some of them before, it was not with a critical eye. Plus I could not get a decent list if I limited it.
Here we go:
10. The Lost Battalion – although made for TV, the best WWI movie in years; accurately tells a story that needed revival; graphically realistic battle scenes
9. Enemy at the Gates - nicely builds on the seed of a true story; a war romance for guys; well-acted; what modern war movies for the general public need to be like
8. Spartacus - a spectacular epic that shames wannabes like “Braveheart”; everything is big – the acting, the sets, the score; similar to “Enemy at the Gates” because it fleshes out the facts into robust entertainment
7. Zulu - a classic battle movie; great acting; lots of action
6. Pork Chop Hill – very similar to “Zulu”; another movie that brings attention to a battle that deserves it; both interesting studies in command
5. Kanal – remarkable Polish film that is set in the Warsaw uprising; masterfully directed and lensed; one of the slimiest and grimiest movies you will ever see
4. Tropic Thunder – a comedy for war movie lovers because we get more jokes than the general public; scathingly satirical for intellectuals and silly enough for average people; winner of my March Madness tournament to determine the greatest war comedy
3. Downfall – a near perfect blend of accuracy and entertainment; humanizes a monster without being offensive; incredible indoor and outdoor sets
2. Courage Under Fire - 2012’s “Three Kings” – a pop war movie that is not ridiculous; multi-layered examination of the fog of war, the effects of stress in combat, post-traumatic stress disorder, dysfunctionality in a small unit; bravura acting; “A Few Good Men” with action
1. Schindler's List - I know it’s a boring choice, but a near perfect movie; it meets all my requirements to be a great war movie 1. admirably accurate 2. tells a story that needs to be told 3. great in all the technical aspects 4. great acting 5. highly entertaining; throw in that it works for both males and females and it has pizazz (e.g., filmed in black and white)
Now for the dogs:
5. Gods and Generals – how could this be associated with the excellent “Gettysburg”?!; some excellent battle scenes don’t make up for an offensively pro-South and pro-slavery plot
4. Red Dawn (1984) – only foggy nostalgia by teenage boys who saw it in theaters can explain this movie’s continued popularity; everything about it is ridiculous
3. The Boys in Company C – another movie with an inexplicable following; has all the weaknesses of “Red Dawn” with the added defect that it can be compared to many very superior Vietnam war movies
2. To the Shores of Tripoli - there are many movies made during WWII that are not overly patriotic or propagandistic – this is not one of them; terrible acting and a plot that makes no sense; patriotic bull shit
1. Sabre Jet - set in the Korean War and released in 1953; this movie actually was supported by the U.S. Air Force; laughable clichés and abysmal acting; treacly score; gun camera footage includes shooting down a Stuka!
There you have them. Ten must-sees and five must-avoids. Enjoy all of them.