‘Must See Films’

I remember hearing an expression a long time ago, that to avoid conflict, avoid discussing sex, religion, racial issues, or politics with people you don’t know very well.

It is no secret that these are incendiary topics. What you might not have thought of is that all of them are just different kinds of warfare. Warfare can be physical, mental, or emotional. Wars can be fought between nations, between corporations, or even between as few as two men. Wars have been fought over territorial imperatives, natural resources, ideas, religious beliefs or ideals, or just for the right to be free. But in every situation of warfare, there are victims.

So to cut to the chase, I’m going to present you with a look at some upcoming films that I consider statements about warfare in a variety of situations. Sometimes you hear about upcoming films and that news is exciting. These four future film releases are so good, that their news is especially exciting. In that context I am calling these films Must See Movies.

Our first film is called Red Tails. This film comes to us from George Lucas. You all know him even though he’s only directed six films; he gave us the Stars Wars and Indiana Jones  franchises. Red Tails refers to the color red painted on the tail wing of some of our best fighter planes from the WWII era. The film is inspired by real life events.

To protect the heavens, we’ll fight to the last plane, the last bullet, the last man, the last minute – we fight! We fight! We fight!

The movie is about African-American fighter pilots who for the longest time were denied full entry into the war. The decision was made strictly because of racial bias. But when American heavy bombers started to get shot out of the sky in ever increasing and alarming numbers, something had to be done.

Airmen from the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, not only were called in to serve, but were ultimately given orders to fly as escorts on US bombing runs. Their heroic efforts were supremely instrumental in the war’s outcome.

One bomber that’s 10 men. We count our victories by the bombers we get to their targets, by the husbands we return home to their wives, and by the fathers we give back to their children. Red Tails opens on January 20, 2012.

Moving forward historically, let’s have a look at Jackson, Mississippi in 1960’s. The film is called The Help.  The story revolves around a young white woman who wants desperately to become a writer.

Skeeter (played by Emma Stone) talks first to a black woman – Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis) – who has been serving as a housekeeper in her best friend’s home for many years. Jackson was just another town in the South where black women served as maids, cooks, housekeepers, and nannies. Though they worked in the homes, helped care for the children or cooked the food that was served, their labors were governed by unwritten codes that were racist and exploitive. Plus the wages were low and the alternatives were few.

At first the maids did not want to talk to Skeeter. But one did, then a few more, then many more. Skeeter was able to write a book on the topic. In the time of the film, Skeeter’s book was a high risk for her.

The film’s tagline is: Change begins with a whisper.

Whether Skeeter’s motives for the book were for her own gain, or to help change the plight of the black maids, or to simply embarrass the people who perpetuated the status-quo of the times, is a question that each viewer will have to answer for themselves after seeing this film, or reading the source book, The Help written by Kathryn Stockett. The film opens on August 10th, 2011.

The Ides of March opens on October 7th, 2011. The film stars George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti, and Marisa Tomei. The film is about a US Presidential candidate and a young and iddealistic staffer who works for the candidate’s campaign. The staffer played by Ryan Gosling is going to come face to face with the fact that politics is a dirty business, and is never more so than during the campaign.

The warfare is fought over the votes. If we go all the way back to the days of The Romans, when Senators wore togas instead of pin-striped suits, things were not much different. The main difference is that it took so much longer for the news to get around in those days, and the Roman senators did not have cell phones. These days, the supposed target is still votes, but it is really about money, and power. No matter what – it is still warfare – with winning or losing the election standing in for life or death. However, in politics – winning or losing an election is the life and death struggle over a career.

I’ve always been partial to films about politics – All The President’s Men, The Candidate, Mr. Smith Goes  to Washington, and The Contender come to mind. The Ideas of March was co-written by George Clooney and Grant  Heslove and was adapted from the play by Beau Willimon. I hope this one will join that stellar group.

Our last must see film is still nearly a year away from opening. Battleship is set in the not too distant future. Liam Neeson plays a US Naval Admiral. He commands a fleet of ships that must do battle with an armada of unknown origin.

Without being told, you can gather enough info from the trailer so that you may assume that these new invaders are from someplace other than our own planet. So this is going to be another war where humans fight alien invaders.

I can only hope that this one will be better than Battle: LA which opened and quickly sank from sight earlier this year. Still the trailer – aka global teaser – looks pretty good to some, and yet others already think the film will be a disaster, or pretty bad to others. Based on the trailer.

Based on these trailer, you may take my ‘must see’ label with a grain of salt. I know no more about this film than anyone else. I’ve seen only this trailer. I just feel that I’d like to see this film when it comes out next summer. I felt that way about BLA than decided to not see it.

Of course each of you will decide to see or not see each of these four films. Me? I saw the trailers and made a decision to give you a look at these films.  Are they any good? Will they live up to the hype? Will the box office reap the rewards? I’ve no idea.

Only time, and public opinion will tell. See you at the movies.

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