Movie Revolt’s Streaming for Your Pleasure: Memorial Day Edition
Article By: Dan Clark
Well it’s that time again, time for another installment of Streaming for Your Pleasure. With Memorial Day weekend upon us America is about to officially start the summer. Barbeques, beers, and beaches will surely take up much of our time this weekend, however let us not forget the purpose behind this day as we celebrate the glory that is a three day weekend. In all seriousness it is a time to honor our Veterans and current soldiers for the remarkable sacrifices they make. No matter what political stance you may take I feel that is one thing we can all get behind. With that in mind I dedicated this installment to all things military as I look at military centric films currently available on Netflix Streaming.
Directed By: Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, Bernhard Wicki, and Darryl F. Zanuck
Written By: Cornelius Ryan
Starring: John Wayne, Robert Ryan, and Richard Burton
Synopsis: With four directors and an all-star cast, this Academy Award-winning war epic from producer Darryl F. Zanuck chronicles World War II’s harrowing D-Day invasion. Shot on the beaches of Normandy, France, the ambitious film attempts to cover the historic day from all perspectives, focusing on figures from both sides of the conflict. The who’s-who ensemble cast is led by John Wayne, Sean Connery, Robert Mitchum and Henry Fonda, just to name a few.
Why You Should Check It Out: When people think of the quintessential D-Day film Saving Private Ryan is often the first thing that comes to mind. While that film is surely great The Longest Day is no slouch itself. You can tell that just by looking at the cast list. The biggest stars of its day came out to be a part of this films. Most of those stars are now consider legend by Hollywood standards. While it isn’t the technical achievement of ‘Ryan’ its overall scope is awe inspiring. While the violence isn’t as intense the mood and meaning are just as significant. D-Day is easily one of the most important days in American and World history and The Longest Day does justice to the event and its participants.
Directed By: Ridley Scott
Written By: Mark Bowden and Ken Nolan
Starring: Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, and Tom Sizemore
Synopsis: Based on a true story, U.S. Rangers and an elite Delta Force team attempt to kidnap two underlings of a Somali warlord, their Black Hawk helicopters are shot down, and the Americans face intense combat with the militia on the ground.
Why You Should Check It Out: Black Hawk Down is easily one of the best military films from the last decade. It combines both great action with great emotion to tell a tale of absolute struggle. The action doesn’t glorify violence but provides an insight to the havoc it can cause. It places you within this thick atmosphere that has an absolute chaotic situation that only gets worse though ongoing calamities of horrific events. You become immersed into this foreign world that is bent on the destruction of these soldiers. Even after watching the movie and reading about the real life events it’s still hard to comprehend how this didn’t end up even worse. What is also interesting about Black Hawk Down is how strong the cast is. It’s full of ‘before they were stars’ actors who broke shortly after this film. If you haven’t watch this yet you no longer have any excuse.
Directed By: Aron Gaudet
Written By: Aron Gaudet
Starring: Joan Gaudet, William Knight, and Gerald Mundy
Synopsis: Whenever Iraq War veterans return to the U.S. via Bangor, Maine, senior citizen volunteers Bill, Joan and Jerry are at the airport to greet them. This moving documentary profiles their personal stories and the impact they’ve made on countless lives. As they share their kindness and support through handshakes and hugs, these compassionate greeters strengthen their community, their country and themselves.
Why You Should Check It Out: While watching movies about soldiers can bring their own form of excitement sometimes it is beneficial to take a step back to get a better understanding of our own reality. The Way We Get By provides us that opportunity. It’s a documentary that will make you feel pride in what we as humans are able to do, but also fear the inevitable convict we have with our own mortality. It’s a movie that picks its subjects well with each providing a different take on the same story. There’s also that question of what propels these people to do such a patriotic act. Is it done out of pride and dedication to their fellow soldiers or is it done more so out of that personal need to feel wanted? Whatever the case may be it’s a fascinating story that deserves to be told.
Directed By: William Wellman
Written By: Robert Pirosh
Starring: Van Johnson, John Hodiak, and Ricardo Montalban
Synopsis: Director William Wellman dedicated this taut war film to “the battered bastards of Bastogne.” The film tells the story of a U.S. Army division that’s overrun by the Germans during the early hours of the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. James Whitmore, who shines as a grizzled sergeant, leads a great cast (James Arness, Van Johnson, Ricardo Montalban and John Hodiak). The movie won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
Why You Should Check It Out: Battleground covers one of the most important and incredible battles in World War II. The Battle of the Bulge has been told countless times in countless ways. If you were lucky enough to watch the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers a lot of this will feel familiar. Its often said that the closer you are to a historical event the less you know about it. I believe that statement is not only factual but an important one to keep in mind while watching this film. It only came out a few years after the War ended in a time when movies where heavily censored. Even with those issues this still holds up as one of the best movies about those Battered Bastards of Bastogne.
Directed By: Ryan Little
Written By: Matt Whitaker and Geoffrey Panos
Starring: Corbin Alred, Alexander Polinsky, and Kirby Heybourne
Synopsis: Four American soldiers and one Brit fighting in Europe during World War II struggle to return to Allied territory after being separated from U.S. forces during the historic Malmedy Massacre.
Why You Should Check It Out: It’s not going out on a limb to say that soldiers are known to overcome seemingly impossible obstacles. However even in times of war sometimes the struggle goes beyond what was expected. Saints and Soldiers is about that type of situation where Allied soldiers are trapped behind enemy lines. Being a low budget film it had to rely on storytelling instead of spectacle and special effects. It does that pretty well and you find yourself becoming invested into their plight across enemy territory during the harshness of a brutal winter. It also adds in the issue of faith and how it can play a factor even in a time when humanity appears absent. Sure it doesn’t do it with the lightest of touches but it’s an appealing enough idea to not come off too heavy handed.
Directed By: Sam Mendes
Written By: William Bro William Broyles and Anthony Swofford
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx, and Lucas Black
Synopsis: Jake Gyllenhaal stars as a fictionalized version of Marine Anthony Swofford, whose biting memoir about his real-life stint as a sniper in Operation Desert Storm serves as the inspiration for Sam Mendes’s drama. But instead of combat, the film focuses on the long, lonely days spent at war, and the cynicism and caustic humor soldiers employ to deal with unbearable conditions and ever-present danger. Peter Sarsgaard and Jamie Foxx co-star.
Why You Should Check It Out: I know there is a large segment out there that is not a fan of this film, but I’m a lover of Sam Mendes direction so this was a hit for me. He has a knack for establishing superb visuals that set the tone for the message he is trying to convey. It’s a movie with an incredulous motive that can strike some people the wrong way, but I sense its heart is in the right place. Desert Storm is a different war for a different time and it attempted to show exactly that. Perhaps that is not for everyone, but the good thing about Netflix streaming is it will only cost you your time.
Directed By: Richard Fleisher, Kinki Fukasaku, Toshio Masuda
Written By: Larry Forrester, Hideo Oguni, and Ryuzo Kikushima
Starring: Martin Balsam, So Yamamura, and Jason Robards
Synopsis: Named for the Japanese phrase that signals the start of an attack, Tora! Tora! Tora! tells both the American and Japanese versions of the infamous attack that catapulted the United States into World War II. The film reveals mistakes made by both governments, which added to the confusion and culminated in the harrowing bombing of Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor. Spectacular battle scenes earned the film an Oscar for best special effects.
Why You Should Check It Out: What makes ‘Tora! Toria! Tora! ‘ a classic WWII film is its even keel approach to the day that will forever live in infamy. It’s not a movie that makes the other side into the overblown ‘bad guy’ with no remorse for human life. The film provides the backdrop for what lead up to Pearl Harbor allowing us to better understand the why to those days events. It’s hard when watching this not to compare it to Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor. What this understood and Bay’s didn’t is the realization that being truthful and being exciting are not exclusive from one another. In fact you will find they more likely to complement each other to make a better story.
Directed By: Michael Anderson
Written By: Paul Brickhill, Guy Gibson, and R.C. Sherriff
Starring: Richard Todd, Michael Redgrave, and Ursula Jeans
Synopsis: This critically acclaimed film centers on the invention and development of the breakthrough World War II-era “bouncing bomb,” an explosive designed to drop into reservoirs and cause massive flooding to Germany’s industrial hub.
Why You Should Check It Out: What intrigues me the most about WWII is the endless amount of fascinating stories that it has. Some seem more like Science Fiction than actual fact. The story of the The Dam Busters is a perfect example of this. Watching this film we can see the bombs that help win the war from from infancy in someone’s backyard to its epic conclusion. This is actually the perfect movie for the weekend when you consider the Memorial holiday and the fact Star Wars turns 35 years old. That may seem strange on paper, but if you watch the final battle it will quickly sink in. It was a heavy influence on the final Death Star battle to the point where George Lucas lifted much of his dialogue between the bomber pilots. It’s a film many people have forgotten but if you are a Star Wars completest or a history buff it’s a much watch.
Directed By:Oren Moverman
Written By: Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman
Starring: Ben Foster, Samantha Morton, and Woody Harrelson
Synopsis: An injured U.S. soldier, Sgt. Will Montgomery (Ben Foster), is paired up with by-the-book Capt. Tony Stone (Oscar nominee Woody Harrelson) to notify families of killed soldiers — a job that bonds them as they debate different views on serving America. At odds at first, the two find common ground while facing life’s variety of battles. Oren Moverman directs this poignant military tale that co-stars Samantha Morton and Jena Malone.
Why You Should Check It Out: The Messenger covers one of the most difficult jobs anyone could ever imagine and does it in the most elegant way. The anchor to this film are the strong performances by Foster and Harrelson. The characters are thick with personality and realism. They remain subtle keeping the weight of their responsibilities lingering in the background. Each has their reason for being damaged allowing you to see how this job helps fill in the many holes in their lives. It’s not the easiest of watches but it earns its difficult nature.
Directed By: Walter Grauman
Written By: James Clavell, Howard Koch, and Frederick E. Smith
Starring: Cliff Robertson, George Chakiris, and Maria Perschy
Synopsis: In this classic war actioner based on a true story, Cliff Robertson plays Roy Grant, a combat-weary pilot whose R.A.F. squadron is ordered to destroy a Nazi rocket fuel plant tucked deep inside a Norwegian fjord. The bomb run is a logistical nightmare because the planes must run a gauntlet of anti-aircraft batteries before reaching their target. The film’s scenario and characters were drawn from a novel by Frederick E. Smith.
Why You Should Check It Out: I’m a huge fan of WWII aviation and could literally just watch old war planes fly around all day. Well come to think of it I’ve actually done that many times at airshows over the years, but I digress so let me get to the point. If you are anything like me you will surely enjoy 633 Squadron as it shows off what remarkable exploits can happen with ingenious ingenuity meets selflessness audacity.