Screen Junkies » band of brothers Movie Reviews & TV Show Reviews Fri, 12 Sep 2014 21:34:42 +0000 en hourly 1 7 Awesome War Films Based On Real Veterans Fri, 11 Nov 2011 20:09:06 +0000 Penn Collins Good, bad, or otherwise, these films serve as true representations of the American military experience.

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It’s Veterans Day, and in honor of the men and women who have served, we’ve compiled a list of seven films which chronicle real soldiers at various points in their careers. While men can be heroic in war, these films certainly display the hardships that they can endure as well, both during combat and upon their return home, if they are lucky enough to make it back.

With all the American servicemen and women in mind, let’s take a look at seven real war stories that reflect what it means to be a soldier and a veteran.

Born on the Fourth of July

Base on the best-selling autobiography of Ron Kovic, the screenplay was written by both Kovic and fellow Vietnam vet Oliver Stone. The film is certainly a war story, but deals entirely with the aftereffects of the Vietnam War and the difficultly in adapting back to the American way of life, made even more difficult with Kovic’s disability sustained in the war.

The role is regarded as among Tom Cruise’s finest work and is among the first that springs to mind when one thinks of a film about Veterans.


Bat*21, starring Gene Hackman and Danny Glover, tells the true story of Lieutenant Colonel Iceal E. “Gene” Hambleton, who was shot down over North Vietnam during the final days of the Vietnam War. Hambleton’s only radio link to help is with Captain Bartholomew Clark, who communicates with the trapped pilot as a rescue plan is formed. The film is not 100% accurate, but many gory details, including the numerous American causalities sustained in the rescue effort, are included.

Sergeant York

Much like the WWII film To Hell and Back (see below) focused on the most decorated soldier of the second war, Sergeant York focuses on the most decorated soldier of WWI, Alvin York, a “hillbilly” sharpshooter, played by Gary Cooper. The film, directed by no less than Howard Hawks, was the highest-grossing film of 1941. York himself was originally cool on the idea of a biopic, but he agreed when he needed to raise money to build an multidenominational bible school.

Jeez, Alvin. Way to make the rest of us look bad.

The film follows York from his rural Tennessee upbringing as a nogoodnik to war hero, saving his unit with his sharshooting. It’s a pretty amazing story, and almost so American you can’t believe it’s real.

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5 Recent TV Dramas That Got History Right Mon, 07 Nov 2011 14:00:28 +0000 Penn Collins Historians now agree that the wireless connection in the town of Deadwood, SD was spotty at best.

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Even before its premiere, AMC‘s new historical drama, AMC’s Hell on Wheels, came under fire, with many calling it a “white-washing” of history. Specifically, the show’s lack of Asian characters and the fact that the main character conveinently freed his slaves before the Civil War has drawn criticism. While the show’s creators have offered reasonable explanations for their decisions, we are reminded of a recurring problem with period pieces: They’re often crafted to meet the sensibilities of contemporary audiences rather than accurately reflect the people, events, and circumstances of the time. So while Hell on Wheels finds itself behind the eightball, let’s look at a few period pieces that got it right, often unapologetically.

Band of Brothers

I realize how silly it appears to create a list of historically accurate television shows, then populate it with so many HBO series. But just because it appears silly doesn’t mean it’s wrong, and the Steven Spielberg/Tom Hanks miniseries Band of Brothers is a great example of the steps both the producers and the network take to ensure accuracy when other parties would simply bring the drama.

To start things off, Band of Brothers is based on a book by noted and lauded historian Steven Ambrose who earlier worked with both Spielberg and Hanks on Saving Private Ryan as a military consultant. Though he was hit with allegations of plagiarism in his 2002 work The Wild Blue, allegations came from improper citing. Ambrose issued an apology and the world kept on spinning.

In the adaptation of Band of Brothers, most of the surviving members of Easy Company were asked for their input on even the most minute details. Photos and firsthand accounts were used in the selection of weapons, costumes, and the mannerisms of the soldiers.

Even the actors met with the men they were playing, when possible, in order to get a feel for the war that the book didn’t provide for any number of reasons. As such, the veterans that offered input all gave the program their blessing and approval, which speaks higher than any critical or academic praise could. That said, the series has not only stood up to scrutiny from academics, but he garnered their praise for its depiction of perhaps the most studied era in human history.

Mad Men

Another shocker, I’m sure. Mad Men has been praised as both a character study and study of its era. While the study of its characters is outside the scope of this discussion, its hard to examine the veracity and accuracy of this program without examining the behavior of the characters (to some extent, at least. This is shaping up to be a more herculean task than I anticipated) in their context.

Beyond the meticulous production and costume design, which has garnered no shortage of accolades and many would claim is the true star of the show, they get the zeitgeist (I hate that word and everything it represents) right. Mad Men’s “plot” seems largely incidental when compared to the program’s study of gender, race, and cultural issues during the timeframe of the show.

Since its inception, critics have heaped praise on the show for managing to create a sexiness and glamour from such an accurate depiction. Is it possible that people were smoking and drinking that much in the early 60’s? Yeah. It’s not so much that Matthew Weiner, the creator and showrunner, picked an era, then contorted it until it became suitably entertaining, but, rather, he picked an era that was entertaining, and, despite the fact that the show begins less than 50 years ago, it seems about as foreign to us as a show about Henry VII or Spartacus.

I mean, THEY’RE SMOKING IN THEIR OFFICES! For today’s audience, that’s about as bizarre as the concept of a gladiator match.

Aside from the superficial details, the constructs of the show (corporate culture, gender issues, and sexual politics) bear only a fleeting resemblance to what they are now, but one must remember that the reason this show exists is because advertising in Manhattan, during this period, was this glamorous, and was this different than the world we know now. Get past the suits and Lucky Strikes, and one will see a more profound snapshot on the American landscape than many knew existed.

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DVD Rundown: Cars, Fanny and Alexander, Blue Velvet, Mutiny On The Bounty, Band of Brothers/The Pacific Thu, 21 Jul 2011 20:42:55 +0000 Joseph Gibson Yee-haw.

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Every Tuesday sees the release of a plethora of cinematic treasures, and this week is no exception. From Cars 2 to Cars 3D to the Cars Director’s Edition, there are tons of options to choose from. It can be pretty hard to wade through all those DVDs and Blu-rays, so here’s a handy list of this week’s best titles. I hope you like Cars… and Fannies.

Choose a DVD or click ‘Next Page’ to continue…

Cars 2 Fanny and Alexander Blue Velvet Mutiny on the Bounty Band of Brothers


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Salma Hayek Heads Up ‘Wicked’ Adaptation for ABC Mon, 10 Jan 2011 18:54:53 +0000 Reza F. Because if there's one thing the entertainment world is lacking, it's television adaptations of bestselling fantasy novels.

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If there’s one thing the entertainment world is lacking, it’s television adaptations of bestselling fantasy novels. Thank god Salma Hayek is here to correct this grand oversight. She’s now reportedly spearheading an effort to adapt Gregory McGuire’s Wicked into an eight-hour miniseries on ABC. The book, which spawned a wildly successful Broadway adaptation in 2003, follows a slew of key characters from The Wizard of Oz through adolscense and early adulthood, focusing specifically on the green-skinned Wicked Witch of the West. No news yet on whether Hayek will play a role in the series, but “Band on Brothers” scribe Erik Jendersen has already signed on to pen the script. Also notable is the fact that the series won’t be a musical, which means you can watch it without experiencing that sinking feeling in your stomach that indicates your testosterone supply is shutting itself off in preparation for a sex change. (Deadline)

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