Thursday, January 15, 2015
3 Thoughts on American Sniper
1. Bradley Cooper owns this movie - Honestly, I can't think of any other reason to see it. The movie itself is....average (more on this below), but this is a performance of a lifetime. I have been a Bradley Cooper fan for 14 years (holy shit, I'm old), since his Will Tippin days. Alias is one of my all-time favorite shows, and his character was just the best. However, it wasn't until a few years later with Wedding Crashers, that I really realized that Cooper can act. It seemed like such an odd movie to come to this realization, but the fact is, he played a complete and utter douchebag in Wedding Crashers, and it was NOTHING like Will Tippin. I followed his career ever since - from the starring role in Kitchen Confidential (a show that I actually really enjoyed), to guest starring on Nip/Tuck (an incredible, memorable role), to supporting roles in Yes Man (I even endured He's Just Not That Into You - just for him). I am so happy that he is a full-blown movie star. He deserved the hype, but now he deserves an Oscar. This performance is stunning. Bradley Cooper, himself, is a very charismatic person (watch any interview and try not to smile), and I think that has shown through in every role prior to this. With this role, there is not even an ounce of Bradley Cooper in it. There are parts where his character, Chris Kyle (based on a real person), is charismatic, but it's in a different, Texas military man, sort of way. As a liberal New Yorker (New Jerseyan now...same difference, really), who is anti-guns, anti-violence, anti-war, etc, I think it's incredible that I felt like I understood the choices that someone like Chris Kyle made. Some of this can be credited to the writing, but for the most part I credit Cooper. He balanced the external confidence of these choices, with the internal consequences of these choices. The fact is, while Kyle may have killed 160+ people, he saved an immeasurable number of lives, and truly believed that he was fighting for American freedom.
2. The "true story" - Aside from the main performance, the only other interesting aspect is that it's based on a true, and very sad, story. The thing is, I felt like I've seen it before. There have been many movies about post-9/11 America - from a war aspect, and from a PTSD aspect. It didn't really feel like anything new. The movie is also very long, and a little too cold in my opinion. It's problematic that it is based on his memoirs because it becomes "his truth", which is definitely interesting, but I felt like other perspectives are needed. It's a strong movie, but I don't know, it just felt like something was missing. It would have been stronger, for me, if we had the perspective of the "other" sniper, instead of him just being "the bad guy" who doesn't have a voice at all. Overall, I hardly find this movie to be Oscar worthy (nominated for Best Picture and Adapted Screenplay), but it's still worth it to see such a strong, central performance (Cooper was nominated too! I hope he wins).
3. All of the pretty faces - Obviously, Bradley Cooper is the prettiest of all the faces, but there were some crazy good-looking supporting actors (and one actress) in this movie. Sienna Miller is not a strong presence in this movie, but she is very beautiful. She is almost unrecognizable, though, in this role with her long, dark hair and makeup-less face. I haven't seen her in a while, so I wasn't expecting her to look so much older (and we are the same age, I've just always thought of her as younger than me...and now she looks older. It's weird.). Other noticeable pretty faces: the guy who plays the new Jason on General Hospital, Joel from Parenthood, Jake McDorman, Jonathan Groff and Luke Grimes. Well done, boys.