Act of Valor

 
I remember reading about the plan to make this film a few years ago and thinking it was gonna be just another jingoistic film by the self proclaimed “World police” but at the last minute I changed my mind and went along.
I was right about it being a “jingoistic film by the self proclaimed world police” but as an action film and a study of the mind of an elite soldier then this was on another level.
 
Before you read anymore do be aware what these words mean.
SAS= Special Air Services, SBS= Special Boat Services, G.I= Government Issue
 
“This is what a reviewer had to say about the film below.  An unprecedented blend of real-life heroism and original filmmaking, ‘Act of Valor’ stars a group of active-duty U.S. Navy SEALs’ in a film like no other in Hollywood's history. A fictionalized account of real life Navy SEAL operations, ‘Act of Valor’ features a gripping story that takes audiences on an adrenaline-fuelled, edge-of-their-seat journey.” 
 
Based on the style and wording of that review above plus also the amount of times they mention the name of the film, you know that it was written by someone who was paid to say the above whereas you should know by now that no self respecting organisation would pay me for my scribble, but, I digress...
 
I do remember the (old) Professional, Lewis Collins starring in the SAS film “Who Dares Wins” which was made just after we saw the SAS storm the Iranian Embassy “live” on TV. The title of this film is based on the motto of the SAS and I do not remember any active members of The British Elite force taking part. This film which I’m reviewing does and is amazing. The action scenes were fantastic and reminded me of the film Battle: LA, but this was way better, but do remember that the main characters are SEALs’ so you will not be seeing any of these boys starring in a film that demands dramatic acting anytime soon.
 
Also remember that this is about Navy SEAL (team) 7, (team) 6 were the team that allegedly took out Osama Bin Laden.  Talking about OBL, do you know that The Rock has a relative who was part of Navy SEAL 6 and apparently had texted The Rock to inform him that his (team) 6 were going to take out OBL hours before they “did”. Also The Rock will be starring in the new G.I Joe film. (Coincidence)? 
 
What I didn't like about this film is that the Americans are always reinforcing the image of the Muslim being a terrorist or suicide bomber which clearly isn't right. This is the modern philosophy in filmmaking whereas in the 50s-late 80s the modern enemy in the Film world and in the West was Russian until The USSR abandoned Communism and Hollywood had to focus and develop another baddie (aka 911 and the rise of the spate of films targeting the Muslim terrorist).  
 
Even though this film has been released in 2012, it was conceived 5yrs previously.  In 2007, Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh of Bandito Brothers Production filmed a video for the Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen which led the United States Navy to allow them to use actual active duty SEALs’.
 
After spending so much time working closely with the SEALs’, McCoy and Waugh conceived the idea for a modern day action movie about this covert and elite fighting force. As Act of Valor developed with the SEALs’ on board as advisers, the filmmakers realized that no actors could realistically portray or physically fill the roles they had written and the actual SEALs’ were drafted to star in the film. The SEALs’ will remain anonymous, as none of their names appear in the film's credits.
 
For the Navy, the film is an initiative to recruit SEALs’. According to The Huffington Post, the Navy required the active-duty SEALs’ to participate. 
Relativity Media acquired the rights to the project on June 12, 2011 for $13 million and a $30 million in prints and advertising commitment. Deadline.com called it "the biggest money paid for a finished film with an unknown cast". The production budget was estimated between $15-18 million.
 
So that's the background on the film.
Do consider that if James Bond was American then he would be a SEAL but because he's a Brit then he would have been a SAS/SBS member which is the UK equivalent. 
 
James Bond (UK) and Jason Bourne (USA) are better action films but this film is definitely going in the right direction. Also have you noticed that both the action heroes mentioned above have the initials JB.…? 
 
In concluding a special film with a believable plot featuring real Soldiers. 
The G.I Joe movie of a few years ago should have had these guys making it. I'm sure Dwayne will consult his SEAL family member on tips on how to be more realistic in his portrayal of “The Elite”. 
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The Hunger Games

 
This is a film that had a lot of hype, even rating 87% on Tomatoes that are rotten website. My own personal logic is that if the critics like it then I usually do not... 
 
In ‘The Hunger Games’ universe, the nation of Panem has risen out of the war and the disaster-ravaged ruins of what was once known as North America. Over 70 years before the events of the film, the thirteen poverty-stricken districts of Panem rebelled against the wealthy, controlling Capitol. After a crushing defeat, the Capitol devises ‘The Hunger Games’ as a yearly reminder to the twelve remaining districts of their complete authority, and as continuing punishment for their rebellion. Every year, each District must hold a raffle (known as the "reaping") to choose one boy and one girl (ranging from ages 12–18) to participate in ‘The Hunger Games’, a competition in which each of the 24 contestants (known as the "tributes") battle to the death in a televised arena until only one is left alive.
 
In the poverty-stricken District 12, sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen (Jenifer Lawrence) cares for her mother (Paula Malcomson) and her sister Primrose "Prim" (Willow Shields), since her father died in a mine accident when she was 11. Each year, since the age of 12, Katniss' name has been placed in the reaping more than once. In return for taking this extra annual risk, she receives extra grain and oil for her family. I n addition, Katniss has been illegally hunting for food outside the boundary fences of District 12 with her friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth), whose father also died in the same mining accident.
 
Prim, now aged 12 has her name placed in the reaping for the first time—only once—and it is unexpectedly drawn. Katniss volunteers as tribute to replace her sister in ‘The Hunger Gamest. She competes against other tributes, including a baker's son named Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), the male tribute from District 12, who has secretly loved Katniss since childhood and who once showed her a kindness she could never forget.
 
Before ‘The Hunger Games’ begin, she is given a stylist named Cinna (the singer Lenny Kravitz) and a Capitol escort named Effie (Elizabeth Banks) to help her make a good impression with potential sponsors. Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), a drunk and the only living victor from District 12, mentors both Katniss and Peeta before and during the Hunger Games. Once in the arena, Katniss must rely on her hunting skills, stealth, speed, and wits to survive. She also has to fight her anger for the Capitol, choose her alliances wisely, and 'put on a good show' in order to receive food and aid from sponsors.
 
Now that's the film in a nutshell. What I found interesting was the fact that this is a film about in my opinion how reality TV has gone mad. Remember the contestants (just like in the film Highlander) know “there can only be one” so it's a fight to the death that is played out to the TV audience.
Another interesting point is that there are 13 regions and 13 is a number that the “Elite” love (Friday 13th, 13 steps on a pyramid on a US $ and finally 13 steps in a normal house).
 
I tried to find a definitive number of reality TV shows that are being shown around the world and I couldn't. I do remember seeing “The Truman Show” featuring Jim Carrey. Don't remember it? Read below...
 
In this movie, Truman is a man whose life is a fake one... The place he lives is in fact a big studio with hidden cameras everywhere, and all his friends and people around him, are actors who play their roles in the most popular TV-series in the world: The Truman Show. Truman thinks that he is an ordinary man with an ordinary life and has no idea about how he is exploited. Until one day... He finds out everything. Will he react?
 
That was 1998/9 and since then we've been bombarded with this mind-numbing genre that I cannot stand so I obviously do not watch.  Here's another quote about reality TV given by another:  Reality television frequently portrays a modified and highly influenced form of reality, at times utilizing sensationalism to attract audience viewers and increase advertising revenue.
 
Participants are often placed in exotic locations or abnormal situations, and are often persuaded to act in specific scripted ways by off-screen "story editors" or "segment television producers”, with the portrayal of events and speech manipulated and contrived to create an illusion of reality through direction and post-production editing techniques.
This is what happens in ‘The Hunger Games.’
 
In wrapping up this review, I can't say this is a masterpiece but I will say that because it's based on a trilogy of books, we can look forward to another 2 sequels of a form of reality for the masses....
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Wild Bill

 
This is the directorial debut of English actor Dexter Fletcher. Dexter has been acting since he was 6 and my own particular memory of him was in the James Bond vehicle for Daniel Craig “Layer Cake” which even though you haven't asked I feel I have to say was one of my favourite British gangster films. Dexter has also starred in numerous films such as “Elephant Man” and the kid gangster movie “Bugsy Malone” to name but two. When I think of Brit-gang films I think of the undisputed numero uno of this genre ex Mr Madonna, Guy Ritchie who if memory serves me right has featured Dexter in many of his films so this kid has a great schooling and this film shows. 
“Tell me more about this film gman!” I hear you cry. Consider it done. 
 
Set in East London, the story revolves around Bill Hayward (Charlie Creed-Miles), a prisoner of eight years out on parole. Returning home, he finds his 15 and 11 year old sons, Dean (Will Poulter) and Jimmy (Sammy Williams) abandoned by their mother and living alone. Dean, who has, up till now, managed to support and play father to his brother, forces Bill to stay when social services threatens to put the boys into care. A bond between Bill and Jimmy quickly develops, but is short-lived when Jimmy gets into some trouble with old friends of Bill's. To fix the situation is sure to violate his parole and send Bill back to jail. Bill must decide what kind of father he wants to be: a good one, or a free one.
 
Bill is a loveable rogue and reminded me of a person trying to make the most of what they possess and uses their experiences and their surroundings to the best of their ability but clearly starting at a disadvantage in comparison to those who take a “normal” upbringing for granted. For example, Dad forgets his eldest son's birthday so he gets a prostitute to help his son celebrate it. Now tell me, is that normal to you, because on my birthday I got scrabble!
 
This film has many heart warming moments in it such as when Dean (big son) who wants to trust dad but knows that he hasn't been a good one to date, sees Dad working as a mobile sign (on £3 per hour), doesn't acknowledge him but goes into a cafe and buys then places a cup of tea near Dad without saying a word. This kid is going to be big, correction, both sons are going to be big, no, no, no, the entire cast are brilliant!!! 
 
The actors in this film do not appear to be acting; rather they appear to be telling a “true story” for some who live in a poverty ridden high rise estate. 
Here's a quote from the great man himself on his wife Dalia Ibelhauptaite;
"She's the best influence on me. She's my hero and my best friend. She loves me and I really feel that, I remember lying in bed one night, alone after a bad day, and wanting very much to be with her, I realised I was happy when I was with her and in control, so I set about making her my wife". I rate this man!
 
Finally, I'm not sure if the Americans will appreciate this grim and essentially British film but if you like your films witty without being “Lol”, gritty but not depressing and dark but with a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, then this my friends, is right up your street...
 

Article by @gmanzen / 26th March 2012

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