Tag Archives: black hawk down

The Most Underrated Films of the Last 25 Years!

Stranger Than Fiction, Harold Crick, Will Ferrell

 

The first post from the new Killing Time HQ has to be something special; something memorable.  Now, I could’ve gone to see Fantastic Four.  We could have all shared a memorable time listening to me spew venom forth on another failed attempt to do what only Brad Bird has succeeded in doing: getting the FF right.  I could, but that would involve me actually paying my money to SEE the motion picture.  As a grad student once again, I can tell you that is a lot of Ramen that I’m trading for a guaranteed foul mood.

No, what we should celebrate are the hidden gems; the overlooked films.  We’re going to go back 25 years (starting from 2014) and I will posit my most overlooked film.  The criteria for such is as follows: the film must have received little to no critical awards, the film cannot have been a blockbuster, and the film must be at least a 8.5 on my ratings scale (the one that matters).  Some of these you may have seen, some you may have never heard of, but in my opinion they’re all good and they all got overlooked.  Let’s try to cleanse our mental palates of non-MCU Marvel films and find some new friends.
Continue reading The Most Underrated Films of the Last 25 Years!

Top 5: War Movies

Top 5

This weekend it’s Memorial Day here in the States and we remember those who fought in wars foreign and domestic so that we might enjoy the freedoms we have today.  The war movie has been a part of film since the beginning.  A staple of cinema through the early 1970’s, the genre virtually died off until it was redefined and revolutionized by one of the most important films ever made: 1998’s Saving Private Ryan.  Continue reading Top 5: War Movies

Ridley Scott’s Latest 10 Movies vs. Greatest 10 Movies

Ridley Scott

Latest vs. Greatest looks at directors, actors, actresses, screenwriters and composers to assess the state of their career as it stands.  We’ll look back at the latest 10 movies the artist has done, rate them and then average them out to see where they stand today.  We’ll also rank their 10 greatest movies and give them the same treatment to compare what they have been doing to their very best work.  (A quick side-note: if an artist is/has been a regular on a TV show we’ll also grade the seasons individually; artists need 10 projects to qualify).

Ridley Scott is one of the most gifted directors I’ve ever seen.  Ridley Scott is also one of, if not the most, frustrating director I’ve ever seen.  No one does the breadth of material he does.  Thelma & Louise, Black Hawk Down and Alien were all directed by the same guy.  That’s nuts.  He has a reputation for his epics; something that spawned out of Gladiator’s Best Picture success.  However, he does as many small, star-driven films as he does huge ones.  His latest film, The Counselor, while star-studded, is a fairly small film.  He’s following that with the epic of epics; taking on the story of Moses with Christian Bale and an adaptation of Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War.  In addition, he’s tentatively attached to Paradise, the sequel to Prometheus, and a Blade Runner sequel.  Ridley’s 76.  He’s 76.  When I’m 76, I’m not going to be directing the Pentateuch.  I’m going…well…at the rate I’m going 76 is a stretch, but I’m going to say I’m unlikely to be shaping a modern Biblical epic and planning three other huge films.

Blade Runner, Rutger Hauer

Ridley makes me nuts.  Maybe it’s an off-shoot of the breadth of material he does, but there is no signature Ridley Scott feel to a movie.  I know when I’m watching a Spielberg movie (in the last decade it will be because I’m chewing on rock salt and screaming profanities in my head).  I know, when I put on sunglasses to fight epilepsy from excessive lens flares that JJ Abrams is near (it really doesn’t bother me, but I love poking him).  There are films in Scott’s canon that match up nicely – Gladiator & Kingdom of Heaven; Thelma & Louise & Matchstick Men– but overall there’s no binding agent that says THAT is Ridley.

The genre he’s most known for -and has had the biggest effect on- is undoubtedly science fiction.  Alien spawned not just a franchise, but an entire genre of survival creature horror.  The influence of Blade Runner on a generation of film makers in undeniable.  Here, I have to stop though, because this is the thing that will send most people through the roof: I can’t stand Blade Runner.  I have tried!  I want to like Blade Runner so much it’s ridiculous.  I’ve watched it five times!  There are movies I love I haven’t seen that many times.  I do not get it.  To me, it’s a glacially emotionless slog.  However, you cannot deny its legacy and its effect on the genre and I respect that.  I can’t try to like it any more than I already do.

ThelmaLouise4_001Pyxurz
Another Scott film which left me cold was last year’s Prometheus.  I was incredibly skeptical about returning to the Alien saga.  Prequels have, as a rule, been less successful than sequels in the franchise age.  The trailers, though, looked so incredible.  I went into that film knowing that I was going to see something amazing.  I walked out in kind of a befuddled daze.  “Whaa…” is still my official Prometheus review.  It’s gorgeous.  It’s one of the best-looking films I’ve ever seen.  I think Michael Fassbender‘s David is a spectacular character.  I have no clue what the movie was trying to do, why the other characters did anything they did or what the point was.  Too often, that’s been my reaction to Scott’s films in the last ten years and The Counselor was so bad that I’m just done trying.  I think he’s lost his way and I hope Exodus is fantastic, but I have no faith in him any more.

Prometheus, Ridley Scott, Noomi Rapace

SCOTT’S LATEST TEN:
1. The Counselor (2013) ………. 1.75
2. Prometheus (2012) …………… 5.25
3. Robin Hood (2010) …………….. 6.50
4. Body of Lies (2008) ……………. 5.00
5. American Gangster (2007).. 7.00
6. A Good Year (2006) ……………. 5.00
7. Kingdom of Heaven (2005)   8.00
8. Matchstick Men (2003) …….. 8.00
9. Black Hawk Down (2001) .. 10.00
10. Hannibal (2001) …………………  3.50

RIDLEY SCOTT‘S CURRENT AVERAGE: 6.00

Ridley’s current average is by far the lowest of the three directors we’ve looked at so far in this column and you can see a slow descent from the masterpiece of modern warfare film making (and his best picture aside from Alien), Black Hawk Down to the pathetic Counselor.  He draws big stars and promises big things, but all-too-often promises are all the audience is left with.

alien_1979_tom_skerritt_sigourney_weaver

Let’s look at Scott’s 10 greatest films and get his average score:

SCOTT’S GREATEST TEN:
1. Alien (1979) …………………………….. 10.00
2. Black Hawk Down (2001) ……. 10.00
3. Gladiator (2000) ……………………….  9.00
4. White Squall (1996) ………………..   9.00
5. Matchstick Men (2003) ………….   8.00
6. Kingdom of Heaven (2005)………  8.00
7. Legend Director’s Cut (1985) …  7.50
8. American Gangster (2007) ………  7.00
9. Blade Runner (1982) …………………..  6.75
10. Thelma & Louise (1991) …………… 6.50

RIDLEY SCOTT’S GREATEST AVERAGE: 8.175

That Scott’s greatest ten films in my estimation have sixes among them, is kind of statement enough.  He’s done amazing films.  He can be an amazing director.  Some of his smaller films (White Squall and Matchstick Men) are overlooked gems.  Kingdom of Heaven and Legend were both so badly butchered by studio mandated editing that the theatrical cuts don’t even make sense.  If you look at his cut though, both are very good films.  American Gangster is Denzel’s film and Ridley can’t take much credit for it.  Washington put that movie on his back.  Then doubtlessly most would have Blade Runner at a much higher grade which would raise his ‘greatest’ average.  My rating is based on the effect the film has had more than the film itself.

Greatness and frustrating misfires are the rule with Ridley.  It used to be that you didn’t know which you would get.  Lately, the latter has been a pretty sure bet and given what he’s capable of…that’s a shame.
Gladiator, Maximus, Russell Crowe, Ridley Scott

Book Review: The Finish-The Killing of Osama Bin Laden by Mark Bowden

 

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If you’re going to read non-fiction (and you really should), you can’t do much better than Mark Bowden.  Bowden is a master of taking extraordinarily complex situations and making them read like the most gripping page turner.  His speciality is the overlap between military and government.  He’s probably best known for authoring Black Hawk Down (which is one of the best non-fiction books I’ve ever read).  This would all seem to lead right up his alley to chronicling the raid that lead to Seal Team Six taking out Osama bin Laden.

I came to this straight off of seeing Zero Dark Thirty and primarily wanting to know more.  I also bought No Easy Day by “Mark Owens”, which is the only on-the-ground account of the raid from any of the Seals to date.  Bowden’s take is almost completely opposite of the path Zero Dark Thirty takes to the raid, which didn’t help me too much with my quest to find out, did that really happen?  Bowden begins at 9/11 looking at it through the eyes of the people who would make the decision and would travel into Pakistan a decade later to raid bin Laden’s compound.  His path is more of a view from the Oval Office, rather than on-the-ground.

There’s nothing at all wrong with the book and it is a quick read.  However, the reason it is a quick read is the problem I have with it: too soon.  The tricky thing about history is that it is, essentially, fiction by the people who live to write their accounts.  If you want the most accurate possible look at an event, your sweet spot is about 30-50 years after when people are still alive but not accountable (how revealing a quote was Obama going to give while running for a second term?) and documents start to become unclassified.  You need perspective for history.  We don’t have it on 9/11 yet.  We certainly don’t have it on the bin Laden raid.  I think Bowden was reaching and seemed to be uncharacteristically padding an already thin premise.  It’s a worthwhile read and has extremely interesting subject matter, but for vintage Bowden, try Black Hawk Down, Guests of the Ayatollah or Killing Pablo.

7.0/10