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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. How nice, on the day of my car accident on the way to work at the Indiana Supreme Court. Unlike the others, I did not steal any money or do ANYTHING unethical whatsoever. I am suing the Indiana Supreme Court and appealed the failure of the district court in SDIN to protect me. I am suing the federal judge because she failed to protect me and her abandonment of jurisdiction leaves her open to lawsuits because she stripped herself of immunity. I am a candidate for Indiana Supreme Court justice, and they imposed just enough sanction so that I am made ineligible. I am asking the 7th Circuit to remove all of them and appoint me as the new Chief Justice of Indiana. That's what they get for dishonoring my sacrifice and and violating the ADA in about 50 different ways.

  2. Can anyone please help this mother and child? We can all discuss the mother's rights, child's rights when this court only considered the father's rights. It is actually scarey to think a man like this even being a father period with custody of this child. I don't believe any of his other children would have anything good to say about him being their father! How many people are afraid to say anything or try to help because they are afraid of Carl. He's a bully and that his how he gets his way. Please someone help this mother and child. There has to be someone that has the heart and the means to help this family.

  3. I enrolled America's 1st tax-free Health Savings Account (HSA) so you can trust me. I bet 1/3 of my clients were lawyers because they love tax-free deposits, growth and withdrawals or total tax freedom. Most of the time (always) these clients are uninformed about insurance law. Employer-based health insurance is simple if you read the policy. It says, Employers (lawyers) and employees who are working 30-hours-per-week are ELIGIBLE for insurance. Then I show the lawyer the TERMINATION clause which states: When you are no longer ELIGIBLE! Then I ask a closing question (sales term) to the lawyer which is, "If you have a stroke or cancer and become too sick to work can you keep your health insurance?" If the lawyer had dependent children they needed a "Dependent Conversion Privilege" in case their child got sick or hurt which the lawyers never had. Lawyers are pretty easy sales. Save premium, eliminate taxes and build wealth!

  4. Ok, so cheap laughs made about the Christian Right. hardiharhar ... All kidding aside, it is Mohammad's followers who you should be seeking divine protection from. Allahu Akbar But progressives are in denial about that, even as Europe crumbles.

  5. Father's rights? What about a mothers rights? A child's rights? Taking a child from the custody of the mother for political reasons! A miscarriage of justice! What about the welfare of the child? Has anyone considered parent alienation, the father can't erase the mother from the child's life. This child loves the mother and the home in Wisconsin, friends, school and family. It is apparent the father hates his ex-wife more than he loves his child! I hope there will be a Guardian Ad Litem, who will spend time with and get to know the child, BEFORE being brainwashed by the father. This is not just a child! A little person with rights and real needs, a stable home and a parent that cares enough to let this child at least finish the school year, where she is happy and comfortable! Where is the justice?

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