Restrepo

Published By: Matthew Kerwin

“The rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, -for war is a drug.”

From the very start of the documentary we are introduced to a group of young men around  19-24 years of age. They are in what looks like some sort of vehicle headed for deployment. The first scene is homemade, shot POV style by one of the soldiers. It captures some of the guys bonding, laughing and joking with one another—most of all it shows us that soldiers aren’t the stereotypical  “juice headed man with a machine gun”,–they are like you and I. They have personality and emotion- they could be your family, your friend, your neighbor.  We see the exterior of the soldiers; they are like steel but throughout the documentary we find out the interior has cracks and can be fragile.

  Filmmakers Tim Hetherington of “The Devil Comes on Horseback” fame and  Sebastian Junger bring us this hauntingly beautiful footage in the form of  “Restrepo”

These gentlemen followed and documented the soldiers of a U.S. platoon in the Korengal Valley for an entire year. I was sucked into the void of helplessness known as  “The most dangerous place in the world” and  I can only imagine how terrified all of  the soldiers were when they were in the midst of battle because I was petrified watching 8,000 miles away. 

 The name Restrepo is taken from a fallen soldier of this particular platoon, Juan “Doc” Restrepo. He had charm, wit and charisma. He was likeable and everyone in the platoon had only great things to say about him. He was held in such a high regard that the platoon named an Out Post after him.

Platoons in the U.S. armed forces become more than partners they become family. This platoon is no different, each guy cares for the other like they were of the same blood.

Like Devil Comes on Horseback, Restrepo shows war at its ugliest, the soul at its darkest and the mind at its most unstable.

Some of the most poignant parts of the film were without dialogue; they were strictly headshot stills of individual soldiers. Eerie silences, scenic mountain shots and frantic gunfire captivated the film so poetically that I was left feeling numb and grew attached to the individuals that were being documented.

One scene that exemplifies this is also the hardiest to watch. [Spoiler]—————

The scene involves Staff Sergeant Rougel during the mission “Rock Avalanche” he is ambushed by a group of Taliban soldiers and is killed instantly. The camera captures the reaction of his fellow soldiers, they all have a deep fear in their eyes like they had just seen a ghost—watching this just sent shivers down my spine. One of the most powerful scenes I have ever seen in any film is the reaction of the soldier who broke down at the sight of Rougel’s lifeless body. This took my breath away and left me in tears,  it was just gut wrenching.——————-Spoiler

What I liked most about this film is the guerilla style camera work with no narration or commentary from the film makers. It really helped enhance the quality of the film, showing the raw and long term effects war has on the human mind. This movie will stay with you, just like war haunts a soldier for the rest of his or her life.

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Films of 2010

Published by: Matthew Kerwin

 Well folks, 2010 has come and gone, we had some laughs, we had some cries and we also saw some films that made us do both.

I wont make a top 10 of the year, instead i’ll talk about the  films that left an impression on me for better or worse. First and foremost, it was a fairly slow year in terms of great films so that is why i take this approach instead of a traditional ” top 10 list”.  I would like to designate  the 2010 year in movies as “the little engine that couldnt”.  It started out with great promise with such releases as ” Shutter Island, Toy Story 3 and Secretariat” , but  followed with the absymal, Takers, Book of Eli, Paranormal Activity 2, and Alice and Wonderland. (there were more horrible films, but i wont go Debbie Downer on you.) Also, if you liked any of the films i catagorized as terrible, i am so sorry for your taste in movies.

This year just never had many original concepts or ideas like we have seen in the past. Alot of the good films were even pusing it with recycled material or sequals. This is a bit alarming, but i hope it was just one of those years where nothing came together just– perfectly.  Dont get me wrong i absolutely loved some of the films that were released last year, but i wasnt blown away like years past. Maybe i have been watching too many movies and have become too picky for my own good, i’ll let you be the judge of that.

These films are in no paticular order.

  Blockbuster films

 Inception, The Social Network, Black Swan,The Kings Speech, 127 Hours,The American

Limited released films

Winters Bone, Blue Valentine, Somewhere, Animal Kingdom, I Love You Philip Morris, Another Year

 Documentaries

Exit Through The Gift Shop, Citizen Architect, Lemmy, Catfish,Restrepo

 Animated Films

A Town Called Panic, Toy Story 3

Foreign Films

Mother, The Secret In Their Eyes, Biutiful and Dogtooth

Other films that you might want to check out as well,

Shutter Island, And Everything is Going Fine, Never Let Me Go,Carlos, Monsters

Most challanging film this year goes to:

Enter The Void

Drop me a comment,

Let me know if you agree or disagree with the films i chose and what ones you would have put in their place.