In the absence of a baseball game in which our Tigers could remain at least fairly competitive, on Saturday night I rented American Sniper. I knew very little about the movie, other than Bill Simonson (The Huge Show 3-6 pm WBBL Grand Rapids, @HugeShow) highly recommended it and advised I shouldn't watch it with my kids. I also had heard the ending was stunning, and some folks somewhere were offended by this picture. And my only knowledge of Bradley Cooper was from Valentines Day (puhleeeeeze) and The A-Team, which I loved.
The intensity of the war scenes and the ups and downs of title character Chris Kyle's relationship with his wife Taya were both compelling factors and assets in this picture. But Cooper's consistency and believability, as well as an excellent screenplay and superb directing, make this film - period.
I understand the graphic violence and foul language are real parts of soldiers lives, and I hope that I don't become accustomed to that stuff - so that it remains shocking. (Actually, I'm only referring to the violence. My mouth is pretty foul quite often). But seriously, it's not one to watch with the kids.
I was also blessed to take in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939 - Hollywood's greatest year!!) over the weekend, and for the first time I watched it in its entirety. James Steward is a naive young congressman who finds the best interests of his great state are up against a self-aggrandizing political machine bully, who also happens to have many 'friends' in the same house of congress. Senator Smith stays true to his values, in spite of untrue personal character attacks, and every effort by the corrupt political machine to remove him from the Senate.
Jean Arthur plays a DC reporter who is touched by Smith's innocence and naivete, and ends up falling for the big lug. Precious, endearing story, brought to us by the same Frank Capra responsible for George Bailey and Henry Potter.
Incidentally, many actors in It's a Wonderful Life (1946) were also in Smith: Stewart plays George Bailey and Jeff Smith, Beulah Bondi - George Bailey's mom and Jeff Smith's mom, H.B. Warner - druggist Mr. Gower and the Senate Majority Leader, Thomas Mitchell - Uncle Billy and Diz the reporter.