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Postby Ben Chiu » Fri Jul 18, 2014 8:12 pm

Call it "progress" or what you will, but as history goes on, the edges of the what's acceptable in the movies envelope are continually pushed outward. The "line in the sand" for sex and violence is constantly moving. I consider myself less squeamish than most when it comes to movies. It's probably because I pretty much know what's gone on behind the scenes to make it look as it does on screen. I'm not affected by dismemberment and hacking of body parts in everything from Kung Fu movies to zombie movies, and graphic slasher and war movies amuse me on a technical level, but LONE SURVIVOR (LS) was different. I couldn't make it through LS in one sitting. I stopped watching it a few times. I needed to take a break from it.

I never done that before with any movie.

Upon reflection, I think there may a few reasons why, which I'll get into in a moment, but I was prepared to see people killed in horrific ways when I put LS on. (I mean the title is a spoiler really, and I did know a little about the actually event.) So it wasn't like I was taken by surprise or didn't know what to expect. I wanted to watch the whole movie to the end, which I did eventually (again even though I knew how it would end after all), but I just couldn't make it through it without taking a break.

The obvious reasons why this might be include:

+ A very small number of characters - In most war movies there are so many characters that we only get to know the guys superficially (archetypes--the new recruit, the battle hardened veteran, the city guy, the farm boy, etc.) that are killed/lost. The theory is the more we identify with the character, the more we'll experience loss. This was true in some respect in LS, but I don't think that's what it was.

+ Too much blood and gore - Actually, the blood and gore was not over the top nor extreme. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN was more graphic and I was fine with that.

+ Based on a true story - That wasn't it either. Most war movies are, at least based on, a historical event or events.

+ A combination of the above - Just as the latest Thor movie's accumulation of several small annoyances made it a difficult movie to watch for me (I posted about it earlier), I don't feel the cumulative affect of above factors was it either.

What I think it was, even though it might be accurate, the assault on the characters was unrelenting. It just goes on and on. Perhaps that's the point (to be realistic?), but it was a form of cinematic torture that I had not experienced before. (I've watched other movies from Warhol, Waters, and far too many indie and student filmmakers that, for me, have defined the very edges of the cinematic torture.) Don't get me wrong, LS is technically well made movie. It looks good and sounds good. It's well acted and has an interesting story, but it was just too much and I had to take a break (three times actually) to make it through.

In the end, I have mixed feelings about LS. I liked LS, but I'm more neutral about it than anything else. I think this is a movie that had to be made. I don't think LS is a great movie, and I wouldn't recommend it to most people--even war movie fans. I'm not even sure if I'd watch it again. Actually, I don't think I will, but I'm glad I made it all the way to the end (albeit in pieces--pardon the pun) for some weird reason.
~Imagining a world without hypothetical situations...
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Ben Chiu
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Location: San Luis Obsipo, CA

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