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Hammerle On … 'Lone Survivor,' 'August: Osage County'

Robert Hammerle
January 29, 2014
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bob hammerle movie reviewsLone Survivor

Director Peter Berg’s “Lone Survivor” is a powerful, heartbreaking film that simply has to be seen. As the movie ended, tears rolled down my cheeks as I noticeably breathed unevenly.

Based on a popular book by Marcus Luttrell, the lone survivor in this tragic story, it focuses on four members of an American SEAL team sent on a mission in Afghanistan to kill a wanted Taliban leader on June 28, 2005. Though I worried that the film would make the same mistake as “Captain Phillips,” namely overly emphasizing the macho elan and skills of soldiers in the special services, that concern was soon dismissed. Reduced to its core, this is a film about skilled military personnel sent on a dangerous mission that failed for unanticipated reasons, and you gradually felt that someone had reduced the oxygen content inside the movie theater.

Mark Wahlberg has never been this splendid. Fighting to survive and save his buddies against all conceivable odds, you are inevitably left wanting to wrap your arms around him.

The other three members of the team, played by Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch and Ben Foster, never overplay their hand. Chased through ragged mountain terrain by a large group of Taliban militants, they suffered ugly injuries as they tumbled over massive boulders. Repeatedly shot and wounded, they die with dignity, their last thoughts being of loved ones at home.

Hirsch continues a brilliant career that includes memorable performances in “Killer Joe” (2011), “Taking Woodstock” (2009), “Milk” (2008) and the mesmerizing tale of a kid meeting his end in Alaska in “Into the Wild” (2007). While Kitsch is best known for his starring role in the acclaimed television series “Friday Night Lights,” you should set aside your doubts and see his underrated performance in the critically condemned “John Carter” (2012). And Foster is a hidden talent as displayed in “Kill Your Darlings” (2013); “The Messenger” (2009) and “3:10 to Yuma” (2006).hammerle-survivor.gif
Eric Bana’s portrayal as the boss of the operation also must be noted. He is a startling actor who breathes life into small roles, and it is worth remembering his performance in intriguing films such as “Closed Circuit” (2013), the spectacular “Hannah” (2011), and the embracing “Munich” (2005).

I am a great fan of certain war movies, and if you agree with me, you have to put “Lone Survivor” on your list. It reminds me of stirring films like “All Quiet on the Western Front” (1930), and director John Ford’s “They Were Expendable” (1945). It has the allure of Burt Lancaster’s film about Vietnam in the early years, “Go Tell the Spartans” (1978), not to mention the overpowering “Platoon” (1986), and “Apocalypse Now” (1979). Finally, as you watch good men die, you are reminded of the burden the one survivor now carries through life as displayed in Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” (1998).

Look, I know that nearly everyone is aware of who lives and who dies in this tremendous cinematic achievement, but wait until you see the end and our lone survivor being aided by a friendly Afghanistan village and an 8-year-old boy. That little kid says nothing, and he doesn’t have to. Stare into his eyes, and then contemplate mankind’s barbaric treatment of our brothers and sisters around the world.

August: Osage County

How can a film with two Oscar-nominated actresses based on an honored Broadway play be so pathetically uninspired? Even more troubling is that this disappointing film projects a wretched crew of shrewish women in a season focusing on sensational female characters as “The Spectacular Now,” “Frances Ha,” “The East,” “Before Midnight” and “In a World.”

Let me just say that while Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts have received nominations for their performances of a drug-addled mother and her lightweight daughter, neither has a chance of winning. Streep’s drug addiction and vengeful take on everything human would have only worked if she would have become Leonardo DiCaprio’s third wife in “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

Roberts plays one of three sisters, female Musketeers who are an insult to women living east of the Rockies and west of the Mississippi River. Juliette Lewis’ character is so empty headed that she is choosing to marry a guy who is trying to seduce the 14-year-old daughter (Abigail Breslin) of Roberts’ character. Julianne Nicholson plays the third daughter, a sad woman in love with her first cousin who is actually her half-brother.hammerle-august-osage.gif

Joining this group of female losers is Margo Martindale, the sister of Streep’s Violet Weston who secretly had sex with Violet’s husband, giving birth to a son destined for psychological ruin. There isn’t a scene where these women aren’t either yelling or slapping each other, and it makes you want to join them.

Ironically, the only remotely likeable characters are played by men. Sam Shepard, appearing briefly as Violet’s forlorn husband, has the good sense to quickly commit suicide. Ewan McGregor and Chris Cooper play the husbands of Roberts’ Barbara Weston and Martindale’s Mattie Fae Aiken, respectively, and McGregor has the strength to divorce his venomous wife while Cooper threatens the same to his after 38 years. The audience could only cheer their good sense.

In nominating Streep for a Best Actress Oscar, the Academy has again fallen prey to the Ingmar Bergman syndrome. No matter how lackadaisical her performance, they again bow in her direction, this time making the incredible mistake of failing to nominate Emma Thompson for her wonderful role in “Saving Mr. Banks.”

Finally, to add insult to injury, the talented Benedict Cumberbatch is forced to play the above-mentioned cousin/half-brother who appears to be severely emotionally challenged. You would swear that the poor man suffers from autism, something that has gone completely ignored by his slovenly family.

Given Cumberbatch’s phenomenal performances in recent films like “Star Trek Into the Darkness” (2013), “12 Years a Slave” and the voice of Smaug in “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” it isn’t hard to judge the table he will avoid at this year’s Oscars.•

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Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis. When he is not in the courtroom or working diligently in his Pennsylvania Street office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters watching and preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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