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Who Killed Garrett Phillips?

At its best, it reminded me of the landmark HBO docuseries Paradise Lost or the remarkable The Staircase in its level of detail.

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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"Act of Valor" borrows from video games

From: Dawson Rambo

Just got back from the theatre after viewing "Act of Valor." I’m unashamed to admit that I’d been sort-of looking forward to this movie for months. I read your review on the RogerEbert.com website before heading out for the first showing.

I found it amusing that you missed one conceit of the movie only because of your public position on video games.

As you mentioned in the review, the movie began life as a recruiting/training tool, and only later expanded to a feature.

You’ll remember in most of the battle scenes there were multiple shots from the POV of the individual SEALs, with their rifle at the bottom of the frame pointing foward. When another SEAL moved in front of the “camera,” the shooter would raise his rifle (safety) and then lower it again when the field of view was clear. This is a direct steal from most of the modern FPS (First-Person Shooter) games, like Modern Warfare, Call of Duty, etc. I mean down to the square-lensed devices on the M4’s scope mounts. Attached is a screen shot I took off the web from one of the MW/COD games showing the view from a SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon) being carried by a player; you’ll see what I mean.

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As for the rest of the movie, I actually enjoyed it. I do think you need to know a little about SpecOps before you’ll get a lot of the inside terms or appreciate some of what you’re seeing. The only false note is the globe-spanning operations of a single SEAL platoon. It would be very unlikely to detatch 2 guys from a platoon that’s in Costa Rica to send them to Somolia and a third guy to Indonesia and then all back to Mexico in the span of what appeared to be 72 hours. But, meh — as you observed in your review, none of the characters really have names. Be kind of confusing to introduce new ones for each mission.

Gotta say, though, the two lead characters, the LT commanding the platoon and his platoon Chief Petty Officer — for SEALs, aren’t that bad at the whole “acting” thing.

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