Monday, May 30, 2011

Movies You Might Have Missed Monday – Memorial Day Edition

War movies are a genre all their own as each major war in history has been recorded in some dramatic form on film. So many of them, no matter your view on global conflicts, are worth watching for their historical significance as well as the honor shown toward the military, especially the US Military.

Today, I’ve got two such picks for you, one from an earlier age, and one more recent, both (I’m happy to say) Oscar winners for Best Picture.

The first is a movie made in 1970 highlighting World War II. Patton stars gravel-voiced powerhouse George C. Scott in the lead role, General George S. Patton, Jr. Remember from the clips of best movies ever, the man dressed in full military garb standing in front of a ginormous American flag delivering a motivational speech? That’s the one.

Although I am interested in history, it is not the historical aspects of this movie that attract me. It’s Scott’s amazing performance, the way he delivers the zingers that characterized the controversial general. He commands the screen. He’s mesmerizing, funny, harsh, inspirational.

Patton is a long movie, and it is a war movie involving battles and strategy and other war movie characteristics that often times bore people, but it is worth watching for Scott’s performance. Ironically, though he won Best Actor Oscar for it that year, he refused to accept it, claiming he did not deserve even the nomination.

Patton is not only about American history, it is a part of American history.

The other war movie I’d suggest this Memorial Day showing a perspective on a more recent conflict is The Hurt Locker, While Patton is an epic biopic, The Hurt Locker narrows the microscope and examines the life of one solider in the Iraq conflict whose job is to diffuse bombs. Jeremy Renner gives a raw, convincing performance as this soldier, William James, worthy of his Oscar nomination. The story follows Sgt. 1st Class James through a number of anxiety-ridden, bomb-diffusing moments, at the same time scratching back the tough-guy exterior to reveal the fleshy, vulnerable man underneath. That is not to say that solider James is weak under the mask, not at all. What he is comes as a surprise.

Though one bomb-diffusing scene after another may sound suspiciously repetitive and therefore slow, I’m happy to report that I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. Each moment captures undivided attention and erases time, kicks up the heartbeat and produces sweat beads on the forehead.

One notable success this movie claims is having the very first female Oscar-winning Best Director, Kathryn Bigelow.

Both of these movies, in my opinion, give a favorable and honorable portrayal of US Military personnel. And that’s why I suggest them today, Memorial Day, the day we set aside to say thank you to all of those hard-working, sacrificing, selfless, incredible men and woman risking their lives to ensure our incredibly free way of life.

THANK YOU to all you vets and active military personnel I have been blessed to know.

Happy Monday, Dry Ground friends!

(photos by

{FYIPatton is rated PG, but does include more than a handful of language and probably would have been rated PG-13 under the current rating system. The Hurt Locker is rated R for LOTS of language and several disturbing images.}