Movie Review: American Sniper (2014)

American Sniper
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Written by Jason Hall
Adapted from Chris Kyle’s Autobiography

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“War puts lightening in your bones and makes it hard to hold onto anything else,” Marc Lee tells his buddy Chris Kyle when he correlates war to holding onto an electric fence and not letting go. This line stuck with me throughout the whole film and it aptly depicts the feelings that Kyle felt both in his tours to the Middle East and back home with his family, war whether far or near was always with him.  In Clint Eastwood’s highly controversial film American Sniper, he gives audiences a war movie for the generation of people who have endured the Gulf war. Just as Steven Spielberg was able to capture the essence of World War II with both Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers, in American Sniper we see the realities of the Middle East depicted in a way that speaks to the experience that many who have served today could relate to and in fact vouch for its’ truthfulness.

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The story is about Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), the Navy SEAL sniper who has been credited with the most kills and considered a legend. The film is told from his point of view and paints the picture of a man who never considered himself a hero, but someone who was just doing his job. As someone who lives in San Diego, has family members in the military and works at a company filled with Navy veterans and people who have served, I can first hand tell you that many people have this same sentiment ingrained in them. They didn’t go overseas and risk their lives to get their name emblazoned on a plaque, but to serve their country and do something that would be valuable to the safety of their fellow Americans.

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The screenplay was adapted from Kyle’s memoir of the same name and gives us his point of view of not only why he joined the Navy, but what war was like for him. People need to stop getting up in arms and upset about this film, it is told from his point of view and his only. If this was a movie set out to tell the Iraqi side of the story or those who lived in the villages that were devastated by the war, then that is a different movie entirely.

I think people need to understand that before they set out to see this movie, otherwise they will be sorely disappointed. For someone like filmmaker Michael Moore, who has recently taken to Twitter to rant about the film and say that snipers are actually cowards is disheartening to hear. His views although directed at the film, discredit all men and women who have served in the military and it really annoys me to see him out there making these types of claims. As a filmmaker, when he wants to defend his point of view, then he should do so and make his own movie, but bashing Kyle’s legacy is not the way to do it.

I have to say this is one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. Eastwood has made some other good movies (some horrible think Jersey Boys), but this one was fantastic and will gain him some due credit despite all the controversy that has surrounded the film. The movie goes back and forth through time, from the early days of Kyle’s childhood where we learn that his father established in him some lessons and virtues that carried through his entire life, to when he met his wife and in battle. These childhood scenes I believe were pivotal in revealing Kyle’s character. When his father tells him that there are three types of people in the world, sheep, wolves and sheepdogs, he quickly realizes that he is the sheepdog. In other words the person that protects the brood, whether family or country, and he lives to ensure the safety and protection of those around him.

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Kyle decides at 30 years old, which is somewhat a rare age for people to enlist, that he wants to join the Navy and be a part of the SEALs. The elite special operations force that are at the top of their game. At BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/Seals Training) he endures all the crap that is thrown at him and we see him take on the lessons he learned there into the battlefield.

In Coronado, which is where the Seals train, he runs into Taya (Sienna Miller), a woman that can smell his kind from a mile away. She quickly sums him up and tells him she doesn’t date SEALs because they are arrogant and glory-seeking, to which Kyle asks her why she would say that when as he puts it, “I would lay down my life for my country.” That ego and bravado mixed with empathy, in a way sums up who Kyle was, he was a nice guy deep down inside, but his main goal in life was to protect his country. Kyle and Taya fall in love and have a family, and we later see how she has to compete for his attention with his intense desire to go back onto the battlefield.

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Kyle served four tours overseas and each one was wrought with difficulties and losses of his brethren. As I mentioned before, one of the best aspects of the series Band of Brothers, was the camaraderie that was depicted amongst the soldiers. Eastwood captures that sentiment in this film, we see the moments when they are in their tents together or riding in the humvees about to attack the enemy, where they have jovial conversations and talk about their lives back home or what they are planning to do when they get back. They talk about the women they love and their families, and those are the moments that bring them closer together and can never be forged with anyone else, but their fellow brothers. I like how that was portrayed in the film, even though they were on the verge of killing someone, they intersected those moments with jokes and guys just being guys together.

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The battle scenes were just as intense as the moments when Kyle was back at home. Trying to focus on being a father without thinking of the past or what he just endured in war was equally as difficult for him. I like that this duality was portrayed because vacillating between the two roles has proved difficult for many.

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Cooper essentially makes this movie, without him and his ability to bring the emotion and sometimes lack of emotion, is what makes the story come to life. Without saying a word, he was able to be both vulnerable and egotistical. He gave off an air of sense self-confidence that could only come from someone who had survived so much. Bulking up for the role, he embodies the persona of Kyle, not only in his looks, but his mannerisms and did his story justice.

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Miller also did a great job. I am usually not a fan of Miller at all, for me she never really shines through, she always just seems like a pretty background actress, but in this role, I think she did a good job of showing what it is like for the families of military personnel who stay behind. They have to deal with the reality of raising their families alone and she was able to convey the sense of both missing her husband and being angry with him.

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The cinematography by Tom Stern was also well done. The images have a muted tone to them that seem to match the feeling throughout the film. In many of the wide shots, we get panoramic views of cities in the Middle East that are devastated and have been left to crumble.

I know there are a lot of mixed opinions on this film and on Kyle himself, but I enjoyed it and I think his story was one worth telling. The realities of war can only be told through the eyes of someone who survived it and were there. Despite any discrepancies, Eastwood did a great job and I look forward to seeing this movie and Cooper specifically, take home some awards at the Oscars. Say what you want about this film, but Eastwood has made a film that has people talking, I haven’t seen this uproar in a long time, and that is a testament to a film that is worth watching because no one cares about a boring movie.

What are your thoughts on this film? I would love to hear them. And by the way don’t you guys think the real Chris Kyle kind of looked like Chris Pratt.

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}}Melissa

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Blind Spot Series 2015 Choices

I keep seeing everyone’s blind spot movie choices for the year, specifically Ruth and Anna, and I decided to make a list for myself considering there so many movies out there I still haven’t seen. This series reminds me of when I was in college, in which I majored in English and everyone would ask, even to this day, have you read this book or that book, assuming I have because of my major. Do you guys know how many classic books are out there? It is virtually impossible to be able to have read every single book.  Same goes for movies because even though we are movie lovers, we haven’t seen them all.

My goal is to cross these off my list and finally see them.

1. Cinema Paradiso (duh because of T9M) (1988)

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2. Fanny and Alexander (1982)

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3. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

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4. Amelie (2001)

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5. Snatch (2000)

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6. Punch Drunk Love (thanks Anna for the suggestion) (2002)

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7. The King of Comedy (one of my dad’s favorites) (1982)

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8. Lolita (1962)

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9. Blazing Saddles (been meaning to see this for eons) (1974)

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10. Fantastic Mr. Fox (only Anderson one I haven’t seen) (2009)

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11. La Dolce Vita (1960)

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12. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (hellllo Brad Pitt!) (2008)

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Which ones of these have you seen and love?

}}Melissa

Golden Globes 2015 Recap: The 17 Best and Worst Moments

The 72nd Golden Globes were held yesterday and mark the beginning of awards season. Hosted for the third time by Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, this will be their last year and I am sure all the famous people out there will miss them. I say that because they poke fun at celebrities, but in a nice way. It’s as if Ricky Gervais’ jokes were put on a diet, they would look like theirs, watered down, boring and polite. Overall it was an okay show and honestly it was boring in my opinion. I am looking forward to a new host next year and praying that Neil Patrick Harris does a good job with hosting the Oscars.

1. Boyhood won for best movie and it was a well deserved win. Patricia Arquette also took home best supporting actress for the film. Bravo to Richard Linklater for taking a chance and creating a movie that he believed in and was unique in every way.

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2. A lot of the focus of the show was on Benedict Cumberbatch, the camera must have panned on him a million times. He didn’t win anything, but we learned that he is a sweetheart to his wife and seriously I couldn’t stop watching them together. #relationshipgoals

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3. But really it was all about Cumberbatch again stealing a moment, as he did last year and photo bombing Meryl Streep and Margret Cho’s photo.

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4. Margaret Cho dressed as a Korean soldier, in relation to the whole Interview scandal with Kim Jong Un. Really, I could care less and I thought it was stereotypical and lame. Asian-Americans have come so far and to have a stupid moment like this take center stage is ridiculous.

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5. Amazon proved that they are a contender in the TV series market. Their new show Transparent took home two globes, one for best comedy or musical series and another for Jeffrey Tambor as lead actor. I am excited to see the transgender community, which so often gets overlooked, get some love that they so much deserve.

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6. One of my fave girls from Downton Abbey, Joanne Froggatt won for best supporting actress in a TV series and when she went up to give her speech it was an emotional one. She said, “After this storyline aired I received a small number of letters from survivors of rape and one woman summed up the thoughts of many by saying she wasn’t sure why she’d written, but she just felt in some way she wanted to be heard. And I’d just like to say ‘I heard you’ and I hope saying this so publicly means in some way you feel the world hears you.” Her message was powerful and heartfelt and one that deserves recognition.

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7. Many great shows and movies were snubbed, but that could just be my biased point of view. Some of my favorite shows didn’t receive much at all, but a simple nod. Game of Thrones got nothing, Homeland nada, and HBO’s mini-series Olive Kitteridge got a high-five at best. The look on Francis McDormand’s face was priceless, she was phenomenal as Kitteridge and should have won!

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8. Jared Leto and his beautiful braid. Enough said.

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9. Umm… Yeah Prince was there. Where has he been and what is up with his whole look? Well he is Prince, so I guess he can do whatever the hell he likes.

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10. The public support and stance against the Charlie Hebdo Paris shootings. The Golden Globes is a huge platform and it is good to see artists who can be known and heard stand up for a cause that is worthwhile and that deserves even more attention than their awards show.

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11. George Clooney and his new wife Amal Alamuddin. Yes, the ladies man finally got married and was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement in motion pictures award. He gave a beautiful speech, recognizing not only the Paris attacks, but giving thanks to his wonderful new love. He said, “Whatever alchemy it is that brought us together, Amal, I couldn’t be more proud to be your husband.

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12. Wes Anderson’s win for Grand Budapest Hotel. A definite highlight of the evening and a rare glimpse at a director who almost never attends these types of shows.

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13. Still can’t believe Showtime’s The Affair beat some of the best shows out there right now, House of Cards, Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey and The Good Wife. They won for best drama series and Ruth Wilson took home an award for best actress in her role. The Affair was a great show, but was it good enough to beat out some of the best? I honestly didn’t think it deserved to win.

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14. The look on Chrissy Teigen’s face when her husband Jon Legend won his award. Seriously the ugliest cry face I have ever seen. This is especially funny considering how beautiful and perfect she seems. Her face has already gone viral, but she seems to be taking it all in stride.

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15. When Ricky Gervais made an appearance, drink in hand and gave the audience some snarky jokes to add a little liveliness to the show.

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16. The gorgeous actors and actresses. They looked stunning and impressive. Kit Harrington, Jake Gyllenhal and Rosamund Pike were definitely the most beautiful of the bunch.

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17. I think we found next year’s GG hosts. Kristin Wiig and Bill Hader were only on screen for a few minutes, but their energy was funny, lively and kept us wanting more. The word is already out and people are vying for them to take the hosting spot next year. I vote for them to host!

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And finally after the show here is how Christoph Waltz felt and I think it pretty much sums up the night.

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Did you watch the show? What did you love or hate?

}}Melissa

 

 

 

Resolutions 2015: O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Check out the movie I watched for Cara’s resolutions blogathon. I put off watching O Brother, Where Art Thou? for way too long and so glad I finally saw it.

Originally posted on Silver Screen Serenade:

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Well I started off this year’s Resolutions series on Monday with sci-fi classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, so there’s one off the list for me! Now it’s time to see what some of you beautiful people chose! Today’s participant? The wonderful Miss Melissa from Snap Crackle Watch! Have you guys been to see Melissa’s site? She not only has a whole bunch of great movie and TV write-ups, but I have often proclaimed her the queen of gifs and pics because she finds the BEST STUFF. Always makes me gig

gle. 🙂 Anyway, let’s she what Melissa decided to check off her movie list!

}}Melissa

What To Watch On TV In January 2015

I thought I  would share with you guys some ideas for what to watch in January, seeing that so many new shows are starting up. Some are new seasons of old favorites and others I am going to be testing and seeing if they are any good and worth a watch. I am adding in a little bit of everything, so if you have no idea what to watch and you are itching for something new, then hopefully I can help you decide.

What will you be watching in January? Do tell.

Downton Abbey: Season 5 (PBS/Masterpiece) – Premiered Jan 4

Anyone that knows me know I am soooo obsessed with Downton Abbey. I was super happy this past weekend when it came back. This season already started out great and it looks very promising. So many questions will be hopefully answered. Who will Lady Mary hook up with this year? Will Carson and Ms. Hughes finally kiss? What about Daisy will she find love or a new career? But seriously what is going to happen with Lady Edith? I won’t even say what is going on with her, so that I will not spoil it for anyone who is not caught up yet. But if you are a fan of period dramas, then this is your show.

Marvel’s Agent Carter (ABC) – Premiered Jan 6

I think I will give this one a shot. The trailers have sold me and I just saw the lead actress in Black Mirror and she was really good. A little mystery, a little bit of intrigue and a strong female lead, I think it is worth trying out.

Empire (Fox) – Premieres Jan 7

At first I thought to myself there is no way I would watch this show, but the more I have seen the trailers the more interesting it looks. Terrence Howard is pretty good and I like that he is back with his Hustle & Flow partner Taraji P. Henson. Hmmm, this could go both ways, we will have to see!

Portlandia: Season 4 (IFC) – Premieres Jan 8

I am such a fan of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, Portlandia is for those of you out there who have a dry sense of humor. Some of my favorite sketches are when Fred dresses up and talks like a girl, seriously he’s funny. This is perfect for when you are at home and want something relaxing to just watch and enjoy without having to think much.

Glee: Season 6 (Fox) – Premieres Jan 9

I know I am a huge nerd for liking this show, but OMG I have stuck it with it for this long I can’t give up now. I have to watch the new season. It looks cute and apparently Rachel and Kurt are going back to start a glee club at the high school. Totally lame, but I will watch it. Anyone else a gleek out there?

Man Seeking Woman (FXX) – Premieres Jan 14

I love Jay Baruchel and am so glad that he is coming over to TV. Given that he has already perfected the bumbling skinny guy who can’t get a date routine, this show takes that idea to another level. Here he is a single guy trying to date, yet we see the odd things that he thinks come to life in a surreal way like blind dates who look like monsters, sexy aliens and talking hands.

Best New Restaurant (Bravo) – Premieres Jan 21

I love Top Chef, so I guess I will watch this. See this is how easily networks like this suck me in to their TV shows! The show stars Tom Colicchio who will go around to 16 new restaurants and decide who is worthy of the infamous title and a bounty of cash.

Broad City: Season 2 (Comedy Central) – Premieres Jan

Super funny and crude, if you are a fan of this type of humor you must check out this show. Now these chicks are my kind of gals. They are basically like the Workaholics guys, but with dresses and makeup.

Black Sails: Season 2 (Starz) – Premieres Jan 24

If you haven’t had a chance, you need to see season 1 and get caught up on this show. It is definitely worth watching. I like it for the historical aspect that it brings with famous pirate stories like John Silver and Jack Rackham. In Season 2, some of the love stories look to be heating up, especially with Captain Flint and new ruthless pirates will be introduced. A must watch if you like adventure stories, pirates and sexy wenches.

PS… February is looking pretty awesome too (see below for a preview of one super cool show that despite its’ issues has me hooked), but more to come on that subject.

}}Melissa

December Favorites

Can you guys believe that 2014 is over?! Seems like it flew right by. A lot of my favorite shows ended or finished their season in December like Sons of AnarchyHomeland, The Affair, so the rest of the month I felt like I was searching for new shows to watch. I did find some good stuff, please comment and let me know if you guys are into these shows. Nobody else I know watches any of these, so I am curious to hear people’s opinions.

Black Mirror (BBC/Netflix)
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Hands down this has to be one of my favorite shows I watched all of last year. The best way to describe this show is to compare it to the Twilight Zone with a techie twist mixed with some futuristic dystopian themes. If you are a fan of that old 60’s show, then you will totally understand and “get” this one. I have recommended it to a few people already in real life and they have literally come back to me with a “WTF is this” and they either love it or hate it. Each episode is different from the last and is an original story, they are reminiscent of the way that the film Her makes a statement about society today and our obsession with our smartphones.

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For example, one of my favorite episodes is from Season 1, where people have the ability with technology to recall all of their memories and with the switch of a button they can project them on TV screens. Now this could be fun to watch what happened the night before at a party, but in this one the husband wants to know if his wife cheated on him or not. Can you just imagine the kind of fights this type of device would create in society? If you find that premise intriguing, then this is the show for you. The show stars so many famous British actors like Domnhall Gleeson, Jessica Brown Findlay, Tom Cullen, Toby Kebbell and Haley Atwell to name a few. Just recently DirectTV aired their Christmas special starring my fave guy Jon Hamm. I think this is going to start gaining some traction in the US and hopefully it will become a permanent show with new episodes because seriously I am in need of more!

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Christmas Special Trailer

Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond (BBC/Netflix)
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Ok I am going to go out on a limb and say this is another favorite for 2014. I am ecstatic that I found this mini-series and decided to watch it. This is a 4 episode mini-series starring Dominic Cooper as writer Ian Fleming, the man who wrote the Bond series and who’s tales were inspired by his own life as a secret agent. In the series, we see how the enigma and iconic character of Bond was created as Fleming was pretty much that guy in real life.

He was a playboy who was witty, smart and cunning as a fox. Recruited by the British Naval Intelligence Division during WWII, he honed in on his experiences and lived to write about them in his novels. We see his family relationships with his brother and mother and  how the character of M came to be and who she was in his life to him. Most importantly though are his loves, the beautiful  and sweet Muriel (Annabelle Wallis) and the sultry and sexy Anne O’Neill (Lara Pulver). If you are a fan of the Bond series, then I think this will definitely intrigue you or if you just like a good old fashioned spy novel, then this will be right up your alley.

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}}Melissa

Happy New Year! #2015

Happy New Years guys, hope everyone is having a wonderful day off relaxing and enjoying their day one of 2015. Sometimes I really hate thinking about NYE resolutions and how everyone is talking about what they will do, but then no one ever really cares a month later. Last year I did make a NYE resolution, okay I will admit it, mine was to say “no” to more things and not feel bad about it. I have a HUGE family and every week there is a birthday party, an event, something or another that I have to attend. I made it a point to decline some of these outings and not feel guilty about it.

This next year, I really want to focus on fixing my blog up a bit, so that’s my sort of resolution. I got the writing part down, but in no way shape or form do I understand how to make a website and do all that back end stuff. I plan on giving my site a revamp and having a friend or two help me out with this process. I also want to get myself more organized with my posts, so that I can post more regularly. Anyone have any tips on how they keep themselves organized especially while juggling their personal and professional lives?

Do you guys have NYE resolutions and if so, what are they? or do you totally detest that crap?

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HAPPY NEW YEAR and thank you to all for being wonderful blogging friends. But really lets see what Jimmy Fallon is thankful for this year.

}}Melissa