Friday, January 16, 2015

 By Tinsel & Tine Blog Contributor MIKHAIL REVLOCK

A review of American Sniper is incomplete without a discussion of Bradley Cooper’s transformation. Though the physicality of the change is the most striking (Cooper gained forty pounds for the role, and his face seems to have borne the brunt of the weight), it is his altered personality that ultimately leaves the deepest impression. The high-strung motor mouth of recent Cooper turns is gone, replaced by a plodding, vacant-eyed husk. He wears the understated persona well, delivering a tour de force in a career riddled with mainstream catering gigs.

The film itself is relatively unexceptional. Directed by Clint Eastwood with workmanlike deliberation and minimal chest-thumping, American Sniper follows the life of Chris Kyle, a former SEAL who had 160 confirmed kills under his belt at the time of his death. The action vacillates between Kyle’s tours of duty and his stateside visits. Though Eastwood shoots the missions in a refreshingly unfussy, coherent fashion, he evinces a surer hand in his depictions of the SEAL’s home life, chronicling Kyle’s inability to adjust to civilian life with a palpable sense of melancholy. This strength is most vividly illustrated in a scene in which Kyle encounters a former soldier whose life he saved in the line of duty. Even shorn of a leg, the soldier is exceedingly grateful for his continued existence, yet Kyle is incapable of registering the benevolence of his actions, numbed by the excess of shells he has fired into Iraqi insurgents.

There are harrowing bits in Iraq, to be sure. An electric screwdriver is pressed against a child’s head. The camera lingers on a shelf containing an assortment of stray body parts. Early in his military career, Kyle is forced to shoot a young boy and his mother. The violence is brutal, but Eastwood takes after Hitchcock in his presentation, implying a great deal of the carnage and expending little of the budget on flourishes of gore. Regardless of Eastwood’s technical mastery, however, these scenes begin to drag by the third tour. At the heart of this deficit of tension is the film’s propensity for attributing stock traits to his comrades-in-arms. Because these grunts never come to life, it is difficult to muster concern for their survival.

 Kyle’s wife, Taya, is likewise reduced to a caricature, the anxiety-stricken army wife. Sienna Miller appears to have taken acting lessons from Talia Shire circa Rocky IV. She is not bad, but the dialogue with which Jason Hall (a former actor whose only previous screenwriting credit was the widely derided Paranoia) furnishes her is banal at best and maddening at worst. The lack of characterization ultimately gives American Sniper a bland flavor. The film seems calculated to garner Oscar nominations (six, it turns out), aimed squarely at old-fashioned academy members. It takes no risks and presents a perspective that straddles political parties. Watching the film, one almost yearns for the jingoistic fantasy Eastwood could probably conjure in his sleep. Where is the man who debated Barack Obama’s foreign policy with an empty chair at the Republican National Convention? I would choose the card-carrying Conservative Eastwood over the neutered craftsman at work here.

Revlock's LAMB Score: 2 outta 5

Mikhail Revlock is a freelance journalist and fiction writer. His hobbies include bicycles, books, and food. A Philadelphia native, he lives in University City with his girlfriend and two cats. Be sure to check out past contributions: Interview with "Dear White People" director Justin Simien and review of "Horrible Bosses"

While You're Here

Check out Mikhail's Interview with "Black Sea" director Kevin MacDonald
Black Sea stars Jude Law and hits theaters January 30th

Revlock: It's tempting to attribute your influences to other submarine films, but there are so many other films that it resembles: Alien, Moby-Dick, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

MacDonald: “Treasure of the Sierra Madre", yes. "Alien", of course. Submarine films, not so much. We looked at them to see how to shoot it, but that’s it. Because all submarine movies are military movies. This is very different. One of the things that Dennis Kelly, the writer, does so well is he creates realistic characters in a simple way. He doesn't over-explain them, they just are. And the dialogue is very authentically working-class, very rough and crude.”

Revlock: “I liked the coarseness of the language. It did feel very real...READ MORE

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Check out T&T Editor Le Anne Lindsay's interview with "American Sniper" actor Ben Reed who plays Chris Kyle's father in the movie...READ POST

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About This Blog

is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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