movies

The Invisible War

The Invisible War cover. Photograph of female soldier's face.I first heard about this film after it was nominated for an Academy Award. I decided to see it after Henry Rollins wrote about it. I'm going to repeat what he wrote, I encourage everyone to see this movie, but I can't recommend it. That may seem like a strange thing to say, especially on a page of recommendations, but the stories that are told in this film are devastating and will likely haunt you.

The Invisible War refers to the the epidemic of sexual assault within the U.S. Military. Today, a female soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire. Statistics like this are peppered throughout the film, most of them coming directly from official Department of Defense reports. Academy Award nominated director Kirby Dick could have spun this as an anti-military film, but he didn't. Instead, through the emotional accounts of the men and women interviewed, the viewer gets a sense that change is possible.

This is a hard film to watch, but works of this nature are often the best way to facilitate change. Though The Invisible War did not win an Oscar, the nomination has brought national attention to the epidemic of intra-military sexual assault. Since its release, in late 2012, the Pentagon has developed policies aimed at increasing accountablity and victim care.

Find The Invisible War in the Library.

The Princess Bride (PG, 1987)

True love is never easy, but you get the feeling it’s never faced quite as many obstacles as in The Princess Bride. Directed by Rob Reiner, based on William Goldman’s book of the same name, and adapted for the screen more or less faithfully by the author himself, the movie features Cary Elwes (Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Ella Enchanted) as Westley, a young man who must do battle with Rodents of Unusual Size, scale the Cliffs of Insanity, take on a giant (Andre the Giant, that is) in a wrestling match, and more to save Buttercup (Robin Wright Penn), his one true love, from being forced to marry the evil reigning prince. Add in the swashbuckling efforts of Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya and appearances by Fred Savage, Peter Falk, Christopher Guest, Mel Smith, and Billy Crystal, and you have an action/adventure/comedy/romance/fantasy to please all audiences.

Mostly Martha (Bella Martha) (PG, 2001)

Mostly martha poster - man and women in chef's attire, looking intently at each other as man holds up small pan and spoon laden with food, leaning in to offer to womanMostly Martha was the inspiration for 2007’s No Reservations, but don’t hold that against it. The German original is set in contemporary Köln, and features The Lives of Others’ Martina Gedek as Martha, the neurotic, workaholic head chef of a high-end restaurant. When her boss forces her into therapy, Martha just cooks for her shrink. When her new downstairs neighbor flirts with her, she’s awkward and terse. As lonely as she is a loner, Martha must readjust everything when she becomes the guardian of her niece, Lina (Maxime Foerste), and her boss hires a playful Italian sous-chef (Sergio Castellitto, most recently of Paris, je t’aime and Prince Caspian) to split her duties in the kitchen. By turns tragic, comic, and romantic, Mostly Martha is not only a great story, but a foodie’s dream to watch.

A Very Long Engagement (Un long dimanche de fiançailles) (R, 2004)

Fans of Amélie (Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain) will recognize A Very Long Engagement as the work of an old friend. Still, though directed by Amélie’s Jean-Pierre Jeunet and featuring many of the same faces as that 2001 effort, Engagement is a decidedly different love story. Audrey Tautou’s  assertive and heartsick Mathilde is anything but the shrinking flower of her scheming and heartsick Amélie, though her comic timing and moments of poignant vulnerability are just as good. The tone is set by quick shifts between violent scenes of World War I trench warfare and gleeful 1920s Paris, both a far cry from contemporary Montmartre. And though Amélie features a fairly tangled web of mystery and love, neither quite reaches the epic proportions of Mathilde’s stubborn refusal to believe the official story of her fiancé Manech’s death in No Man’s Land and determined detective work to uncover the truth. Along the way she delves into the lives of several other characters, superbly played by the likes of Jodie Foster and Marion Cotillard. If Manech were dead, Mathilde says, she would know. Do you believe her?