So normally this time of the year people start to rant and rave about Oscar season as this is when independent film producers and the large players of Hollywood pull out all the stops for their dramatic features they desire to receive recognition for from the Academy of Motion Picture Science and Art. Last season’s top dog was “The Social Network” though it originally came out in the summer this Machiavellian film had a second premier and really maintained critics’ praises throughout. I have chosen four films that if you have not done so already must rent or go out to see this month. Three of which were released fairly recently and the other released forty one years ago commemorates an American tragedy.
The only summer (September is still the summer) film that may have some clout in nomination discussions this year is “Warrior” if you haven’t watched it you better have been deathly ill in the last 4 months. The story deceptively falls in line with what you would think is a real overloaded machismo theme; mixed martial arts fighting, this cast of “who the hells” and “that guy?” really packs an emotional punch to their audience. We all remember Nick Nolte, the man with the horrible mug shot that Jay Leno kept throwing on the screen in a failed attempt to be funny? Well after reviving his career with “Tropic Thunder”, Nolte takes on the role of distant alcoholic father who takes on mentoring his son Tommy (played by Tom Hardy who plays mastermind, juice head Bane in the next installment of “Batman”, release 2012) who is a damaged veteran of our recent foreign wars. Older son Brandon played by Joel Edgerton (Who will be featured in DiCaprio’s “The Great Gatsby” playing blue blood schemer Tom Buchanan, release 2012) is a down on his luck school teacher that reluctantly enters the same MMA tournament as his younger brother. The three are estranged for reasons that play out in an amazing climax building film that ends with the two brothers squaring off for the tournament title bout, a fight for the ages you do not want to miss. Give these men and their cast members a chance and you will find yourself ducking, weaving and shadow boxing hours after the credits role
My second film for December is “Tora Tora Tora” a film released in 1970 covers the amazing story of the Battle of Pearl Harbor from both sides of history. I am putting this on my list as a must see for December because of the 70th anniversary of this infamous event and our inclusion into a second world war. In no way can I define this as just another war movie. “Tora Tora Tora” has an all-star cast for its time featuring Jason Robards the movie reviews the failure of politics to prevent war, the military planning that went into attacking America and defending her while diplomats try in vain to hash out peace. This is nothing like the failed movie “Pearl Harbor” that does little to accurately represent history and the real emotional tensions felt by Americans and the Japanese building to the inevitable clash of global titans. December 7th marks the days anniversary watch this film and allow it to reveal to you how very different a world we could be living in now if it wasn’t for inept leadership.
My third pick of much watch movies this month is “Ides of March”, directed by George Clooney and featuring a cast that includes three Academy Award winners in Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei; not to be out shined by Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti and Evan Rachel Wood, pulls the curtains back on two Democratic campaigns for the office of President. The cloak and dagger plays, the rape of innocence and the creation of jaded interns, consultants and politicians can be boring for some but the cast and the development of story line is something you should not miss. Red stater or blue stater it doesn’t matter watching this Shakespearian story evolve is fun. “Ides if March” is definitely worthy of water cooler banter.
My fourth and final choice for December touches upon a subject that is rarely discussed by Americans, certainly a lost subject, about a generation that does not receive much recognition by anyone even though the events that transpired during this era has dictated western civilization for almost a century. From the battle of the Somme to Ypres all the way down the trenches of the western front we neglect to reflect on the perils and struggles of The Great War. The unique story line that is “War Horse” follows a farm horse named Joey into a dark world where Victorian living crashes violently with the harsh realities of modern mechanized warfare. Steven Spielberg’s rendition of the Broadway play which was inspired by a 1982 British children’s book also titled “War horse” looks to be the movie that defines the genre for years to come. If you haven’t seen a trailer for this film you’re cheating yourself. If you want to cheat and read the book by all means feel free. The stirring tale of a world at war caught through the eyes of a horse is one not to miss this Christmas Day.