Fighting a War Overseas and Thinking About it at Home

22 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘I hope both of you catch a fist to the face': Kid Rock blasts American Sniper critics Seth Rogen and Michael Moore in profane blog post.

Kid Rock is making sure his fans know exactly where he stands on the controversy surrounding box office champ ‘American Sniper’ with a profanity-laden tirade aimed at the film’s critics. LAS VEGAS — A close friend of Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle told The Daily Caller that warriors like Kyle died so that Hollywood big-wigs like Michael Moore could enjoy freedom of speech.Actor Dean Cain, who was paired in 2012 with slain Navy SEAL Chris Kyle on NBC’s “Stars Earn Stripes,” had some fighting words for Michael Moore and Seth Rogen after the two made controversial comments about the autobiography film “American Sniper.” “Seth…I like your films, but right now, I wanna kick your ass,” the former Superman wrote in defense of his friend Monday. “Chris is an American Hero.“American Sniper” is destined to recreate the endless controversy raised by Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty.” The same people who claimed “Zero” justified the use of torture by the U.S. military will take Clint Eastwood’s film to be a celebration of brute patriotism.After Clint Eastwood’s latest contributions to war cinema in 2006, “Flags of Our Fathers”and “Letters from Iwo Jima,”both companion-piece World War II films, he returns to the genre with “American Sniper,”starring Bradley Cooper.

Brian Sain is a founding member of AmericanSnipers.org and a “personal friend” of Kyle, and he spoke with TheDC at the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s annual Shot Show on Tuesday. It’s also a film that has courted passionate admirers and detractors, while igniting sharp debate and controversy amongst both the film and political spectrum.

A tagline of “American Sniper” reads, “The most lethal sniper in U.S history,” and another asserts, “One hundred sixty kills made history.” Is it decent to honor a man for the number of people he’s killed? Moore, a documentary film director and liberal activist, and actor Seth Rogen recently made headlines for disparaging Clint Eastwood’s box office hit “American Sniper,” which tells the story of Kyle’s life.

Moore called snipers “cowards” while Rogen tweeted that the movie reminded him of the “fake Nazi propaganda” movie in the third act of Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds.” “Those gentlemen live in the United States of America, and I would hazard that neither one of them has ever been in harm’s way,” Sain told TheDC. “So the very right they have to make those comments was afforded by someone else like Chris, who was spilling their blood and spilling their guts and leaving their family, while those individuals were safe and sound behind their keyboards or whatever they do.” Kyle, who is played by actor Bradley Cooper in “American Sniper” and was killed two years ago, is considered a “legendary” marksman among the sniper community. “We were very close friends. I would hope that movies which create a dialogue of such fervor would be far less pedestrian, conventional, and paint by numbers in their execution, as well as daring in content and insight, than Eastwood’s latest.

Although these questions are fair and important, the film is by no means mere pro-war propaganda. “American Sniper” is upsettingly honest and, similarly to Bigelow’s “Zero,” is better understood when interpreted as an uncompromising portrayal of the Iraq War. Rogen, the star and director of the almost-banned comedy The Interview issued a statement about this weekend’s blockbuster hit American Sniper, comparing the Clint Eastwood-directed film to Nazi propaganda. The film charts Kyle’s progression from an idealistic young Navy recruit, eager to defend his country, to a man hardened in the crucible of battle after being deployed to Iraq, and later haunted by the horrors of war and the personal toll it takes on his wife (Sienna Miller) and children.

During his four tours of duty, Kyle becomes more and more accustomed to fighting overseas and grows burdened by the thoughts of war during his time at home. Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorius Basterds culminates with an assassination attempt on Adolph Hitler at the premiere of a fictional propaganda film called ‘Stolz der Nation’ which translates to Nation’s Pride. Kyle (Bradley Cooper), known as “The Legend” for his 160 reported kills, is the paradigmatic patriot — for him, the land of the free ought to be defended at any cost and sacrifice, no questions asked. One of the film’s most harrowing scenes is an early one, in which Kyle’s first taste of battle involves him killing a woman and her child following their assault with a grenade.

As a SEAL who quickly becomes a top sharpshooter, Cooper shows in his eyes and facial expressions how he processes the moral dilemmas he faces when positioned behind a gun. Many reactions to the film were politically-driven, despite Eastwood and Bradley Cooper (who plays Kyle in the film) arguing the film isn’t political. We can sense everything that is going through his mind as he decides whether or not to pull the trigger on certain targets, especially in the suspenseful opening scene.

Much of the controversy about the film stems from the disparate opinions of Kyle, the feature’s subject, who wrote the book the film was adapted from. Rogen has since elaborated that just because he was reminded of the Tarantino scene does not mean that he was drawing any comparison between Kyle and Nazi, and that he even enjoyed the film. ‘But if you were having a slow news day, you’re welcome for me giving you the opportunity to blow something completely out of proportion,’ he added, on Twitter. We talked about everything that’s in that movie, because I was having similar stuff going on from a law enforcement perspective.” Sain helps train police snipers in Austin, Texas, while Kyle helped train Dallas police snipers. Indeed, in the mind of the man who calls every Arab male between 16 and 65 a “savage,” the war takes an almost spiritual tone — he fights, as Bob Dylan would have it, with God on his side.

Kyle calls to mind Jeremy Renner’s role from “The Hurt Locker,”a character who can’t seem to pull his mind away from the field of battle and eventually has some trouble adjusting to a normal life once he’s taken out of the danger he has become accustomed to. He recalled the last conversation he had with Kyle before his friend was shot and killed at the Rough Creek Ranch-Lodge-Resort shooting range in Erath County, Texas in February 2013. “He and I were working on a project together to donate a rifle to a raffle to raise money for our troops,” Sain said. “He got famous after that and he said, ‘Hey man, we need to get on that raffle project.’” “I was eating supper and the Austin guys called me and said, ‘Chris was just murdered. That’s not to say that Cooper’s Kyle is one-dimensional; rather, the film’s greatest virtue lies in its exploration of Kyle’s psychological burdens. Tragically, in 2013, a few years after leaving the battlefield, Kyle was killed by a former Marine who was reportedly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The guy stole his truck and may be coming down this way.’ And then they caught him shortly thereafter.” Sain sought to clear up misconceptions about who American military and law enforcement snipers are and what these individuals go through on and off the job. “Most of us are fathers,” he explained. “Most of us are family people.

At times, “American Sniper” seems to suggest that there is no coming back from war, no home left for the hero, no woman waving her arms at an airport, no child hugging her daddy. Sienna Miller, who plays Chris’wife Taya, has a strong presence as a military wife and exemplifies the challenges and heartache that a loved one experiences when someone close to them is fighting overseas. It also doesn’t help that the film’s handling of Kyle’s domestic life, in particular his struggles to cope with PTSD and the strain his marriage endured, comes off overly familiar and hollow in ways Eastwood’s direction can’t elevate.

Hell, in many ways Ava Duvernay’s historical drama Selma, with its assured formalism, wonderful performances, clear-eyed screenplay, and deep humanist empathy, contains all the hallmarks of and is a much better Eastwood movie than American Sniper. The story serves as a study of Kyle as he grapples with his hunger to serve his country and task of having to assimilate back into civilian life whenever he returns from a tour. With the time that the story spends to focus on Kyle at war, I do wish, however, that the film used some more time to concentrate on his family and the effects that the war had on his home life, both in between his tours and at the end of his time overseas. Of the eight best picture Oscar nominees of 2015, four of them (The Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game, Selma, and American Sniper) were based on true stories. Rogen’s other film The Interview, nearly banned for fear that screenings of the North Korean-set comedy would be targeted by terrorists, was not eligible for the Oscars since it was released online a day before it premiered in theaters.

Of the four, only Selma faced the type of public outcry that American Sniper did and much of that controversy stemmed from the depiction of Lyndon Baines Johnson in the film itself. Even more so when one compares it to the major war films from a generation ago, made in the decade following our country’s involvement in Vietnam, The Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now. For whatever flaws one might find in them, both films (particularly Apocalypse Now) were far more staggering in scope, ambition, and depth of feeling (not to mention subversive in their insights) than anything American Sniper even attempts. Despite a few previous directorial missteps, Eastwood shows that he still has the ability to make a great movie, and after this summer’s “Jersey Boys,”that’s a considerable relief. Can you give me that?’ And I’m not talking about weapons and suppressors and stuff — just backpacks, body armor — that kind of stuff,” Sain said.

Sain didn’t have the money to buy it himself, so he and others started raising money in the community to get them what his friends in the field needed. In a recent interview, Zamperini’s son Luke noted that it wasn’t until he witnessed a Billy Graham sermon in 1949 that his father changed his life. It is easy to dismiss the movie as an ode to American exceptionalism; it is truer, however, to see it as an open portrait of a real man. “American Sniper”, perhaps despite itself, gives us a distressing look at the people who fight our wars. He was done fighting.” Few people have criticized Unbroken for ignoring Zamperini’s alcoholism and how he reportedly nearly ruined his marriage after the war (for the record, some did note that Zamperini’s story of personal redemption was ignored). It seems strange that Unbroken was seen as a straight-forward narrative about one soldier’s life while American Sniper was viewed as a political movie that celebrated Chris Kyle.

Unfortunately, the film has fostered a mostly-partisan political debate with some on the right claiming it as their own and others (including Seth Rogen, who compared it to a Nazi propaganda film) attacking it.

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