Clint Eastwood has developed into a masterful film director. His latest work, American Sniper, is nominated for several Academy Awards, including Best Picture. I've only seen one other of the Best Picture nominees, but I suspect director Eastwood's film can stand alone on the list.
Taken from a book partly written by Chris Kyle, the title subject, American Sniper is a realistic, unvarnished look at warfare.
Kyle, a Navy SEAL, was credited with the most kills of any sniper in the history of the American military. Before, during, and after his four tours of duty in the Middle East, he came home to his wife and growing family.
A native Texan from Midlothian, which is a small city south of Fort Worth, he grew up working with horses. After high school, he rode broncs on the rodeo circuit. 9/11 brought an end to his rodeo days, as he enlisted to go after the ones who attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The film bounces back and forth in the time frame of his life. Rather than being a distraction as it might be in a film by a less talented director, the time hops build the tension. The non linear time depiction also reflects Kyle's emotions from his experiences as he tries to go back to civilian living.
Bradley Cooper stars as Chris Kyle. I've always liked Cooper as an actor. He's played several parts of differing intensity in popular films, most notably Silver Linings Playbook. In American Sniper, he shows us his true artistry. For artist he is, as he disappears in the role. He grew up in the Philadelphia area, according to his bio. I have to tell you, as a lifelong Texan, Cooper's accent and attitude were so familiar to me, I could have sworn I knew the guy. He has the most realistic Texas accent from a non Texan I've ever heard on the screen. You believe Cooper as Chris Kyle, so much so it will break your heart.
I think he really deserves that Oscar for his performance, one of the best I've seen in years.
SPOILER ALERT ---I sobbed so hard at the end of this film, I had to wait until all the credits were over before I could exit the theater.
American Sniper is one of Eastwood's best. This one is gritty and real, at times too much so. Like some of his other films, this one will stay with you long after you see it.
Okay, let's get real here. If you haven't figured out by now, I tend to be a Liberal and I hate war. I come from a military family and grew up surrounded by my dad's WWII memorabilia of his tour in the South Pacific.
Several critics, primarily on the west coast, have slammed American Sniper as a "conservative" dream.
I REALLY disagree with that depiction. Politics do not come into play in the film. It isn't conservative or liberal from the point of view. It is a portrayal of a real man and his experiences.
It's all too easy to label art from one's own perspective but this film covers all the bases.
War is hell. I forget which General said that, but he was right. American Sniper tells it like it is and sometimes it's hard to watch.
No political party can claim this film. It is gut-wrenching reality of real people who put their lives on the line and go bravely into that good night.
You don't have to agree with the war, but it is real. Our men and women are fighting and coming home either in a wooden box or an emotional one from the horrors they have faced.
Bravo, Mr. Eastwood. Bravo, Mr. Cooper. You have given us a film that will not fade away.
And Bravo to Chris Kyle, most of all, for the guts it took to share his story.