Everybody’s talking about ‘American Sniper,’ good and bad

(From usatoday.com)

(From usatoday.com)

Normally I’d shy away from leading my Thursday Film News blog with the same movie I reviewed to start the week.

I can’t help myself in the case of “American Sniper.”

To call the blockbuster about the life and death of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle increasingly controversial is somewhat of an understatement.

To read today’s installment of my weekly Film News blog on the Syracuse New Times site, click the link below.


You’ll find accounts of Michael Moore’s tweet and Newt Gingrich’s answering tweet, and Bradley Cooper’s non-political stance and Clint Eastwood’s defense of his work, and a really great summation of what’s up and what’s gone done from reporter Terrence McCoy for The Washington Post.

And what I think about it all, naturally.

For special emphasis regarding what I mean about “American Sniper” full saturation, as a special bonus here and not at the New Times, here’s a link from a Wednesday story in USA Today.


There’s a new No. 1 on America’s non-fiction list. Can you guess who the author is?

Are you tiring of “American Sniper” news? Do you favor the movie or call out the way Eastwood handled the story of Kyle and his actions? Who’s the biggest hero and villian in this real-life unfolding of the tale to you?

59 thoughts on “Everybody’s talking about ‘American Sniper,’ good and bad

  1. Enjoyed your write up, Mark. I’ve heard the controversy surrounding “American Sniper,” but that’s not why I probably will not see the film. The last military movie I saw was “Monument Men” – well worth a view. As far as those judging it, what those who serve in the military see at such a young age – 18 to 22 – many of us will hopefully never experience.

    For me, I’d rather watch a comedy or a suspenseful movie. I will want to suspend reality … not be immersed in the horrors of it.


  2. I’m having trouble getting into your review and into the other link you left. I find it distasteful to “glamorize” this stuff. It is sad enough that it has to be part of war but to glamorize it, well, vomit vomit. Next, are we going to glamorize Hiroshima? Dear God I hope not.


  3. I haven’t seen it yet either. I’m not really tired of it. But without having read his book, or seen his interviews, or now the movie, I don’t really have an informed opinion. I have a feeling I will one day see it. But will more than likely do a lot of reading first.


  4. I haven’t seen the movie Mark, but I have seen talk shows in regards to it and I can imagine how there would be tension between those who honour the men and women who serve in the military and are grateful to them for the peace they themselves live due to their sacrifice and those who want peace and struggle with the killing of another human being; and sometimes these two thoughts can even reside in one person!

    Wow. Talk about a long, run-on sentences! ❤
    Diana xo


  5. I feel bad for the widow, Mark. It is a tough movie, I have not seen it. I just know the people are coming out staring and a little speechless. The huge numbers of people who went to the movie, Clint Eastwood being the great director he is and Bradley Cooper has really shown dimension in his acting skills all add up to a fantastic movie, I will need to see, …someday. I just have been to too many serious movies lately! Will hope all goes well and that the controversy won’t hurt the wife’s feelings….. My heart goes out to her. Hopefully, the movie and book royalties are keeping her family well paid. Take it easy, I shall have to visit you some more over the weekend, American Idol is on! Oh no! Stayed too late tonight at the library!


    • I think Chris Kyle’s widow will be thoroughly sad, again and still, as the issue is played in front of the world again, yes, Robin. I have read, though, that while alive her husband had a big say in the tone of the project. And I also hope that any money made helps the family, as you say.

      And “AI’ was interesting last night. Harry was a ham in his hometown. Much fun.


  6. As usual I’ll have to wait for it to come out on DVD, but after reading all the comments, I might wait until the library get it rather than paying rent for it. I don’t normally enjoy anything about war. but digging way back, I did like Full Metal Jacket, and still watch that one from time to time. Possibly because I was the age of the guys being killed there, possibly because some of my friends were there, I don’t know. It’s one of those “every 5 years” movies. This one, I’ll wait and check it out of the library and watch as much as I can handle.


  7. Hmmm, haven’t seen it yet Mark, but it sure seems to be controversial. I doubt any war movie would mean as much to audience goers as it would to a vet – someone who had been there. I mean, we train and then praise men (and women) for targetted violence – shooting people or what ever – and they learn (as all humans do) to identify with that. Then they return home and not only are they not honored, they are derided as being dangerous. And the men/women who served have no idea what is important and cherished and what they should be doing. And the actions here that are requred and necessary are the same actions that will get you and others killed over there – and vice versa. i have no doubt that there is controversy Mark, and so there should be. Once you accept war as a necessity – you have created that break in reality that twists people and produces contradictions. On one hand our laws say that life is to be protected and cherished and many give their lives to assure that is so. On the other hand, in war, it is critical to kill as many as quickly as possible without remorse or question and awards and fame are given for accomplishing this – the exact opposite of how we have been lead to believe life is. Hence contradiction.

    Meanwhile, i understand that Hollywood has been given a handicap in Russia, Ha! Sounds about right. We kind of do that here in Canada too, except we’ve grown quite adept at doing it without getting noticed. The Russians will learn. Ha! The truth is Mark that Hollywood is a huge money-making machine that steam rolls over any tiny shoots of local art that happen in it’s way worldwide. ha! We have Canadian content laws and subsidies for Tv and movies that are Canadian. We do film fairs that exclude Hollywood(not that they’d come or care anyway), we encourage local arists with showings and forums for their work to be shown. Hollywood also opens films here much later than in the US – not sure who’s idea that is but it’s always been that way. You see we have to be a bit more politically correct about American infulence, as you are our neighbors and we benefit greatly from that association. The Russians, not so much – they can tell Hollywood to take a hike and only have to answer to their upset populace. Which they likely will: that’s one of our big problems – everyone attacks our Canadian content rules as being unconstitutional because it effectively interferes with their profits. Ha! Anyway, I wish the Russians luck, they’ll need it.

    Great post (and review) mark, thanks.


    • Your position on soldiers and society is compelling, Paul. Thanks for sharing your deep thinking. As for Canada’s positioning in film and the arts (and Russia’s, for that matter) as compared to Hollywood, it’s not competiting against that big monster that I was arching my eyebrow the most about so much in my blog over there, because that money shadow will always loom, but the fact that the Russian law was poised to help their local filmmakers … oh, yeah, except for you over there, the guy who made the movie we’ve deemed to have the anti-Russian slant to its plot.


      • The Russians have been playng that game in a closed society for decades. If you don’t like it – call it anti-Russian and ban it. Give them time, they’ll grow up. They called the Pussy Riot anti-Russian. Please remember that it is not easy to voice your thoughts when they are against the rest of the country. The automatic reaction is rejection -if not by the gov’t, then by the populace – do you recall the Dixie Chicks? They got death threats for their opinions. We are not a long ways ahead of the Russians.


  8. Fake baby aside (but, damn, that was low-rent), I didn’t find it to be a very good movie. The first time I saw the trailer I wanted to see this movie. I was expecting a more compelling journey in to darkness as a man loses his soul to a vicious war. But it never became that story. It was cookie cutter film making – Deploy 1, Return Home 1, Deploy 2, Return Home 2. The scenes at home served only as an interlude for the next tour. Eastwood tried to squeeze in a tear or two and some “what have you become?” moments for Sienna Miller but it never felt authentic. Cooper’s shiver when he didn’t have to pull the trigger was weak and yet it was about the only clue of any inner turmoil. Finally, for a movie that went nowhere for two hours Eastwood wrapped up with a “hey, look we got horse, now we are happy” scene without exposing the return from darkness to this better place. If I hadn’t had the day off I would have walked out long before the fourth tour started. It was just so average.


  9. i agree, that we are lucky to be able to see what we want and voice our opinion about it, whichever side we fall on. i think this kind of movie is good because it gets people thinking and talking and that’s a good thing in my book.


  10. Now I have that Nilsson song in my head. Your link makes me wonder how bad Russian films are, if most of the country is not watching them. Again, I wish Michael Moore would crawl under a bridge with the rest of the trolls, and perhaps a third world country could raid his fridge and gain nourishment.


  11. I can’t predict if it will win the best picture oscar yet, as I haven’t seen all the others – loved The Grand Budapest Hotel, btw – but I did think it was good movie-making and excellent acting. To me it did a darn good job of achieving a balance, in spite of reminding me of a video game at times. War is hell, though, whatever way you want to look at the film.



  12. I’m getting tired of hearing about it. I think the villain is the further divide it’s causing. I had the conversation recently that we are living in a country where people are scared to speak up and be singled out for a different opinion. Anyone offering a different spin or opinion is outcast and labeled. Lots of Kool Aid drinkers and bandwagon thumpers in the world. Events happening around you should be quick cause for intense debate and knowledge and instead, no one wants to make the first move. No wonder we are in a political and social gridlock. Look where it starts, it’s all around.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I haven’t seen the movie, but I don’t know if I will…probably not. Politics is like religion. Everybody has an opinion and it’s all fairly personal…but they will shout it from the mountaintop.


  14. You know I haven’t seen the movie and probably won’t. But it’s true that often great art creates uproar and upheaval and controversy when first released. We could look at John Singer Sargent’s “Madam X” as one tiny example and there are countless others. It must be one powerful movie.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Well, it seems like the ‘conversation’ we had following your last review is getting bigger. Obviously without having seen the movie yet, it’s hard to form an opinion. I think I’ll just stick with those who are tiring of the news!


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