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Thread: THE OUTPOST (Rod Lurie 2020)

  1. #1
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    THE OUTPOST (Rod Lurie 2020)

    ROD LURIE: THE OUTPOST (2020)


    CALEB LANDRY JONES IN THE OUTPOST

    A film that honors veterans of the US war in Afghanistan

    Apparently American soldiers still fight bravely, as evidenced by The Outpost, directed by Rod Lurie based on Jake Tapper's account of what is known as the Battle of Kamdesh at Combat Outpost Keating, Afghanistan, which took place on Oct. 3, 2009. (Tapper's book was adapted for the screen by Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson.) It also seems that in this war US commanders have had a tendency to set up American encampments in Northern Afghanistan in indefensible locations. The intent was to "prevent counterinsurgency" and to "connect with locals" and "stop the flow of weapons and Taliban fighters from Pakistan." But these outposts put US troops in great danger. It's extraordinary therefore that here, at Camp Keating, 54 US soldiers held off 400 Afghan fighters in the war's most heroic battle, and did so deep in a valley surrounded by three mountains. This movie is a partial answer to the question of how they did this, since they were sitting ducks. The other much better question is why? What is the reason for US troops in Afghanistan and how on earth did this become America's longest war? (This battle took place eleven years ago. The war still goes on.)

    This film, though its main action is gripping and powerful, doesn't ask those questions. It simply seeks to represent a battle, and is dedicated to the veterans and their fallen comrades. It is notable for the number of real people clearly represented with cast members including Orlando Bloom, Scott Eastwood (Clint Eastwood's son), Caleb Landry Jones, and Mel Gibson son no. six Milo Gibson. Many other actors turn in good performances, and one veteran of the fight, SPC Daniel Rodriguez, actually got to play himself. Another, Ty Carter, who's played by Jones, also appears in the film. There's a heap'a fit, good looking young men in this movie. It makes war look pretty appetizing - if you don't mind dying. This is a bright, clear, well-shot and acted film and I enjoyed it in spite of myself. (Dp Lorenzo Senatore and camera operator Sasha Proctor keep up with some very athletic challenges, mostly with the Alexa mini.)

    The Outpost is full of energy from its vivid picture of the combative, F-word-intensive talk at the camp when not much is going on - except that the unit is fired on constantly every day - to the moment when finally the long warned-of full-on Taliban attack takes place and all hell breaks loose. Lurie and his cast and crew show enthusiasm in representing clearly and terrifyingly the tough logistics under fire of moving in ammo and moving out wounded men under heavy fire, while discipline of the troops remained strong and the commanding officer kept a cool head. The go-for-broke Caleb Landry Jones is memorable as a little guy who exhibits extraordinary valor, SPC Ty M. Carter. He's right next to the commanding officer earlier on when he's killed and feels guilty, then struggles to prove himself in the battle. This includes his part in the valiant group effort to save the severely wounded SPC Stephen Lee Mace (Chris Born) and carrying ammo while fired upon. Several men give blood after Mace has bled for 45 minutes before they can get him indoors, but in the end he's KIA (killed in action), age 21.

    The resistance against overwhelming odds succeeds only because of exceptional bravery and commitment and outstanding air support, "when it came," as one veteran says in a brief interview at the end credits. Bravo Troop 3-61 Cavalry became one of the most decorated units of the US Afghan war. Medal recipients, eight KIA ages 20-30, are ceremonially listed one by one at the end of the film. Mace received a Bronze Star, Carter a Medal of Honor. The film honors twenty-five medal winners, alive and dead, in the end credits with traditional match-ups of stills of the real guys with images of the actors playing them.

    At its end, the film announces its dedication to the director's son, Hunter Lurie, who died suddenly at the age of 27 from the consequences of a blood clot to the heart during the production. That production reportedly was already a difficult one, and then there was this tragedy. Than that was followed by the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting cancellation of the South by Southwest Festival where The Outpost was to have had its premiere. There is a weight here that the majority of pictures don't have to bear.

    Those who saw Restrepo, a documentary shot a decade ago by Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington about a US unit in an Afghan valley, will find the situation here familiar. I got a strong feeling of déja vu watching the meetings between US officers and local Afghan elders - the show of trust and honor on both sides and the distrust and suspicion behind it, doubtless much deserved on both sides. The unit at Restrepo also was unprotected in a valley and also was fired upon all the time.

    These men were brave, but was it worth it? A movie that vividly represents the machismo - which is explosive in the early scenes - and the valor of a battle but does not question or provide a larger context may be itself questioned. Director Lurie reports that he graduated from West Point in 1984 and "served as an officer in the Army right after" but "never served in battle." If he had done so, would he have approached this project with such enthusiasm? But with the death of his son, a film enthusiast, it was all the more a solemn labor of love.

    The Outpost, 123 mins., produced by Millennium Media, will be presented by Fathom Events and Screen Media in a "special premiere event" at some 500 US movie theaters July 2, followed by a limited theatrical run starting July. 3, 2020. It will also be available on demand from July 3.

    TRAILER



    CALEB LANDRY JONES AND SCOTT EASTWOOD, RIGHT, IN THE OUTPOST
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 07-02-2020 at 01:32 AM.

  2. #2
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    Some positive reviews of this excellent new war movie:

    Peter DeBruge of Variety writes: "Such a film may suffer from home viewing, and yet, The Outpost represents the most exhilarating new movie audiences have been offered since the shutdown began.
    '
    Steve Pond of The Wrap: "A riveting combat movie that aims to put viewers alongside American soldiers in the midst of one of the bloodiest battles in the long-running war, “The Outpost” takes the measure of what a few dozen men endured and finds heroism not in enemies killed but in compadres saved."

    FRank Schoek, Hollywood Reporter: "While lacking the technical virtuosity of Sam Mendes' "1917," for example, the movie nevertheless does full justice to its stirring true-life tale of the 2009 Battle of Kamdesh — despite an obviously low budget."

  3. #3
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    I've now rewatched THE OUTOST and remain convinced it's a great little war movie. Its dialogue and its technical recreation of the intense day-long battle are both excellent. I've also read the Wikipedia article on Specialist Ty Carter, who was one of two awarded the Medal of Honor, which is the top military award for exceptional valor. What he actually did during that battle is even more remarkable than what's shown in the movie. You couldn't show it all. It would be too much and seem exaggerated.

    Both this film and the documentary from ten years ago, RESTREPO, seem to indicate that despite the futility of the war and indefensible positions the Army units were placed in then and their constant losses, morale and standards of behavior have been high in this war.

  4. #4
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    A true story.
    Congrats and bravo to Jake Tapper, a REAL journailst at CNN...
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  5. #5
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    Indeed, a very true story, effectively rendered.
    Hope you get to see it.

    And I'd like to put in a plug for RESTREPO, the remarkable documentary about this world, if you can find it. WATCH IT HERE (Vimeo)

    RESTREPO is a feature-length documentary that chronicles the deployment of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley. This is war, full stop. The conclusions are up to you.
    Director Tim Hetherington, Sebastian Junger
    Starring Artist not provided
    Genres Arthouse, Documentary
    Subtitles English [CC]
    Audio languages English
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 07-02-2020 at 03:45 PM.

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    ORLANDO BLOOM IN THE OUTPOST

    From SF Chronicle Datebook:
    Even now, four months after the country’s shutdown, the film’s planned premiere on more than 500 screens nationwide is history too, especially with the virus’ resurgence, which has postponed the reopening of most cinema chains. But Bay Area fans can watch “The Outpost” from the comfort of their own homes, as the movie will be available through video on demand starting Friday, July 3.

    “You design this movie theatrically,” Lurie told The Chronicle from his home in the Studio City neighborhood of Los Angeles. “I specifically designed which direction the sound of every bullet that passes comes from, every explosion, and I lit the movie for the big screen. Now that almost everyone is going to see it in their home, it’s a bit heart-sinking – although if you have a good system, it will play fantastically well.”
    This isn't hype. I have a modest system, but good sound, and THE OUTPOST plays 'fantastically well' on it. Particularly the precise sound design.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 07-03-2020 at 10:28 AM.

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