American SniperDVD of the Week Thursday, May 21st, 2015
dvd of the week
Something about the wildly successful American Sniper struck a chord, and it’s not clear what. Pundits argued about its politics, about whether it was for or against the war in Iraq, whether the film is racist or just murderous, whether it’s true or not, whether or not it deserved to receive six Oscar nominations. I don’t think it is a great film, despite Clint Eastwood’s brisk and effective formalism as a director. The reason the film works is Bradley Cooper, who received his third acting Oscar nomination in three years for playing the most effective sniper in American military history Chris Kyle. This is by far Cooper’s greatest performance, and the first one that tamps down his naturally brilliant comedy. Cooper exudes a kind of Texan cowboy masculinity that we know better as myth but which still pops up in real people, and Chris Kyle was one of those people. Kyle is tortured by what he experienced in Iraq, and that torture is portrayed with agonizing fear and anxiety easily seen in Cooper’s expressive eyes and jerky head.
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