Aesop joyously rips into The Art Of Manliness’ list of Top Ten War movies, then ponies up one of his own as a corrective. I’m in complete agreement with him, save for his evaluation of Saving Private Ryan:
Good, but it still doesn’t make the cut, despite the Normandy beach landing scene being among the best scenes ever filmed in motion picture history. Loses out because the rest of the movie, while ranging from good to great, is pure fairytale.
Fairytale? Okay, so stipulated. Athough the War Movie admittedly requires a certain gritty verisimilitude in order to really work, moreso than just about any other filmic genre, I’m not particularly bothered by SPR‘s fairytale tendencies myself. Dialogue; character development; direction— to include staging, lighting, and cinematography especially, which are Spielberg’s most finely-honed skills—are superlative. The casting, too, is spot-on. If the admittedly essential thread of realism unravels to some extent…well, hey, it’s only a movie, right?
That duly-picked nit aside, Aesop’s choices for Top Tenner status I can endorse most heartily. I mean, The Great Escape? Patton? Blackhawk Down? Das Boot? Braveheart? Can’t argue with it, folks. The priceless closing rant:
We could have picked another twenty not mentioned, and so could you, before having to descend to some of the execrable picks of AoM, and anyone that would pick The Thin Red Line for anything but “Screenwriter Most Deserving A Firing Squad” should be fed to wild hogs while on fire, and then have the pigs nuked from orbit. Just to be sure. Some TV shows are shot in front of a live audience. Some movie directors should be as well.
Nota bene that nothing made in the last twenty years even makes the cut.
And I’ve lost track of how many defeatist, anti-hero, anti-American, anti-everything-that’s-honorable incomprehensible piles of shit pretending to be “epic” films just make me want to infiltrate a sound stage and choke the living shit out of some asshole twentysomething never-served wannabe film producers and directors, and pin their still-beating hearts to a wall with a rusty bayonet.
Amen to that as well. I’ll close this out with my own personal endorsement of Kelly’s Heroes, a star-studded slice of cinematic strangeness so far from combat-flick traditionalism it can’t be seen from there. Like other movies from the late 60s/early 70s counter-culture era, it struts its period influences so prominently they can grate at times. But it’s also a lot of fun—a genuine oddity whose defiance of war-flick norms manages to be more lighthearted and innocuous than heavy-handed and obnoxious, actually enhancing the film instead of ruining it.