bradley cooper

FILM REVIEW: ‘AMERICAN SNIPER’

‘American Sniper’

Written by: Jason Hall, Chris Kyle (novel)

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller

Story: The true story of Chris Kyle, the deadliest sniper in US military history.

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Let’s be honest here for a second. Every year the Academy likes to nominate a war film. They just love them. It dates back as far as 1927 when ‘Wings’ won Best Picture, all the way up to films like ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ or ‘The Hurt Locker’.  What’s more, the Academy loves a good all round American actor, such as Bradley Cooper. So for all intents and purposes, American Sniper is perfect.

Unfortunately in reality it is not perfect, but that doesn’t mean it is not enjoyable.

Bradley Cooper plays the part of Chris Kyle, a US Navy Seal Sniper who’s quick thinking and precision causes him to become the most deadly sniper in US military history. Funny that they would label him as such, when Kyle’s constant internal war is about whether he was killing people or saving them. Saving them, he decided, was the way to look at it. This would of course keep him sane, but it was also his job, wasn’t it? To save US soldiers? A strange marketing twist then, perhaps, has us glorifying the killing that he did throughout a movie where we witness him struggling with that very thing.

Cooper gives a strong performance but we wouldn’t expect anything less. He is a talented actor with boundless depth which is on show here. He brings us a charming and likeable Chris, and a very real character who we cannot help but empathise with. Will this earn him an Oscar? No, it won’t. But it does make for a good film. It is also worth noting that the fragility of the situation would of made this role difficult to play for anyone and Cooper seems to have taken this part very seriously, and truly done justice to Kyle and his family.

Sienna Miller is fine. There is nothing truly noteworthy about her performance other than she does her job and serves the storyline to create conflict in Kyle’s priorities.

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American Sniper gives a fine perspective in the American War Hero and what is really going on behind the scenes. The film is more about the internal struggle than what is actually happening out on the battlefields of war.  What happens when you see a war hero in the supermarket? Does he want to talk about it, or would he rather forget? These are questions raised in the 2.5 hour running time, and Clint Eastwood does a lovely job of putting them at the forefront of our minds.

Some people may feel the film drag but there is really no fluff: there is nothing in the film that is not totally essential to the telling of the story, so what we have to appreciate is that portraying the life of Chris Kyle is going to take you at least two hours. The abrupt ending may leave you in shock and dismay for quite some time, too.

There are a few goofs in the film that do quite spoil the viewing experience, notable the use of a plastic baby in one scene is distracting and really cheapens the look of the film: why spend so much money on making a war epic then use a plastic baby? Some things we may never know.

All in all, American Sniper is a decent film. Is it as good as last year’s ‘Lone Survivor’? No, it isn’t. But go and see it anyway.

Rating: 7/10

LONE SURVIVOR REVIEW

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OSCARS 2014: WHO WAS THE BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR?

Part three of our five-part Oscar Predictions series sees us review some of the best supporting actors of the last year. One of the most talented categories of this year, it will definitely be hard to pick, but we will do our best! Have you got an opinion? Let us know in the comments!

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips: A first time actor, Abdi is the first Somali in history to be nominated for an Academy Award. This alone is a pretty impressive feat. With a BAFTA under his belt in this category and especially given the Academy’s tendency to favor the newbie, this puts Abdi in with a good shot. However, seasoned professionals such as Jared Leto and Bradley Cooper have scooped more awards and critics favor this year which could mean losing out this time.

Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club: Famously losing 30 pounds to play an AIDs infected transgender is certainly both risque and committed enough to put Leto as the front-runner for this year. He won the SAG Award and Golden Globe for this role as well as a plethora of other gongs and his performance has been hailed as one of the best of all time. One would be crazy to think that Leto is anything other than the favorite. Having said this, missing out on even a nomination for the BAFTA could damage his momentum.

Bradley Cooper- American Hustle: If there was an Academy Award for tightest curled locks, then Cooper would be a shoe in. His performance in the award-winning American Hustle has garnered quite a bit of attention despite the film being so highly criticized. Nominated last year for Silver Lining’s Playbook, one might think that now is Cooper’s time to win, however in such tight competition it seems unlikely that this unevenly received performance will be the one to nab the statue.

Michael Fassbender – 12 Years A Slave: In a film that has rallied such attention and support, Michael Fassbender has been almost famously overlooked. Praise for Lupita Nyong’O and Chiwetel Ejifor have completely overshadowed Fassbender’s supporting role. This is a great example of a very strong ensemble cast who are separated by the fact that breakout performances make the Hollywood Veterans look disappointing. Further to this, Fassbender has taken on a role that is inherently unlikable and is never redeemed: that itself is a tough stigma to crack.

Jonah Hill – The Wolf of Wall Street: Hill became famous in this role after admitting that he worked for a low fee of just $6,000 because of his overwhelming desire to work with Martin Scorsese. Truly committed to the part, Hill tried to convince Producers to let him eat a live goldfish to add more of a sense of realism. Though Hill provided moments of sheer hilarity and added an undeniable chemistry to the Wolf of Wall St cast as a whole, this movie is and always will be Leonardo DiCaprio: If any award is given to WOWS this year it will go to him.

It Should Be… Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips

It Will Be… Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club

NEXT POST: Best Actress

FILM REVIEW: “AMERICAN HUSTLE” (2013)

“American Hustle”

Written by: Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell

Directed by: David O. Russell

Starring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence

Story: When their fraudulent schemes are uncovered by FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Cooper), Irving Rosenfeld (Bale) and his seductive partner Sydney Prosser (Adams) are forced to co-operate with him in a grand plan to expose a mafia ring in Jersey.

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David O. Russell is having a very good time. Just a year after winning countless awards and critical acclaim for ‘Silver Linings Playbook’, his Jersey based mafia comedy has been nominated for almost everything you can be nominated.

After seeing American Hustle, I wanted to review it straight away but instead I let it sit for a while in order to mull it over. My hope was that the film would appear more remarkable and have more of an affect on me as time passed. Now coming back to it, I had to sit and watch a few clips and trailers to actually remind myself of what I had seen. See where I’m going with this? There is nothing really too remarkable about American Hustle.

The thing that stuns me the most about this film is that it is billed as a comedy. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few laughs all of which come from Jennifer Lawrence’s devilishly clumsy (but secretly brilliant) Rosalyn. Other than that, I found the excessive out of place dialogue to be boring and disjointed which made the whole pace of the film perhaps three times slower than it should of been for such a plot.

Amy Adams is shockingly forgettable as Sydney Prosser. The character was originally supposed to be irresistible and seductive, but Adams has somehow taken this and turned it into awkward and uncomfortable to watch. Given that the realism of the story revolved around her sex appeal, she perhaps should of taken a few lessons from Margot Robbie’s ‘Naomi’ in The Wolf Of Wall Street. Of course, Adams has been told that it is sexy to not wear a bra (at all, ever…) however her attractiveness in this film begins and ends with her oh-so-visible nipples.

I have heard time and time again that the key to an enjoyable film is a protagonist that you can understand on some level, and with whom you can empathise. In American Hustle, we are given two protagonists: Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale. Though costuming, makeup and lighting have done an excellent job with these two, what we are faced with is two characters who are distinctly impossible to like. Cooper is incessantly annoying: his character comes across as stupid and spoon fed; where Bale’s Rosenfeld is almost worse. Rosenfeld is not only stupid, but he is aggravatingly ignorant. Pitch them against each other fighting for Sydney Prosser’s affections (we still don’t understand why) and you’re left sitting in the cinema checking your watch and wondering when things are going to start happening.

The film turns out to be somewhat enjoyable: it isn’t all bad. Hair, makeup and costuming are particular highlights, and the music is enough to make anyone crack a smile.

Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence are right to be recognised for their acting chops in taking this blithering train wreck of a script and turning it into something watchable, but I would probably rather save my money than try and watch this again. Maybe buy the soundtrack instead…

Rating 3/5

Photo Credit: imdb.com