Friday, January 9, 2015

Movie Reviews: Getting High on Adrenaline in 'American Sniper' and 'Inherent Vice'

American Sniper (2014, directed by Clint Eastwood. U.S.A., English, Color, 134 minutes) The story of the military's most lethal sniper is what we get fixated on in "American Sniper", which is just as much about post-9/11 patriotism as it is its titular character, Chris Kyle. Bradley Cooper gives his best performance to date as Kyle, who is portrayed as a lovable, modest and true incarnation of Captain America. After each of his four tours in the Iraq War we see just how he is slowly being broken down from everything he has witnessed and how with each tour he still stays focused on the task at hand: saving soldiers (killing the enemy).

The success of the film is because of its helmer, Clint Eastwood, who has done countless war films before this, but takes a sensitive approach to Kyle's story. There is plenty of gritty war violence which is beautifully balanced by the war's effects on his own mental health and his family's well being. Sienna Miller was truly effective as his wife, and my heart ached almost every time she had to cry, especially when she hears nothing but a hail of bullets during a phone call Cooper.

If anything bad to say about the film is that it felt very rushed in the beginning. Not staying long in one situation or another and rushing anxiously to the next moment. It found its footing in the second half, luckily.

Rating: B+

Inherent Vice (2014, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. U.S.A., English, Color, 148 minutes) If  you want to know what this film is about, adapted from the Thomas Pynchon novel of the same name, watch the first 20 seconds of the trailer. This comedy starring Joaquin Phoenix has so much going on with it it's insane. From ex-girlfriends, to corrupt cops, to mental hospitals, drugs, more drugs and Phoenix's crazy chops, "Inherent Vice" is like a drug-induced version of "Out of the Past" and "The Big Lebowski, but cranked up 100 times. It's a long-winded, weird comedic journey you should experience once, especially when you get to see a stern Josh Brolin suggestively eat a chocolate-covered banana.

Rating: B

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