The closest I have come to witnessing some of the events in this movie have been from a co-worker’s stories, who is part of a patriotic honor guard riding group. What was special about this movie was the fact there was no political bent or one-sided criticism of war. This was not a typical war movie per se; the only battle was between protocol and compassion. After being injured, Staff Sergeant Will Montgomery played by Ben Foster (The Mechanic, Birds of America) was assigned to assist Captain Tony Stone, played by Woody Harrelson (Rampart, The Hunger Games). The two of them had the task of informing family members on the death of a loved one. Having never experienced this situation, I was moved on what it took to perform such a monumental task. The acting by Woody and Ben was believable, at times heart wrenching. I could see why Woody received an Oscar nomination for this role. He brought such intensity to this character who was trained to do things by the book, no matter how conflicted he may have been. Also, I was completely impressed with Ben’s performance; he was amazing in this tough role and was able to keep up with Mr. Harrelson. This emotionally charged drama, with such strong characters, truly did justice in showing an aspect of war not usually covered in other military movies.
3 1/3 stars — DVD
Think about a time when you felt out of place, where you did not belong and were in the minority. Imagine if it were in your own family. The powerful story coming across the movie screen did not sugar coat the pain, the sadness, the fear as high school senior Alike, played by Adepero Oduye (Half Nelson), is in the beginning stages to her coming out as a lesbian. With a religious mother, who wants to believe feminine clothing could put an end to her daughter’s tomboyish facade and her policeman father’s avoidance of the obvious, Alike struggles to be the person she knows to be inside of her. Adepero was incredible in this role, with a face that was a canvas for the array of emotions that streamed through her body. There is a good possibility she will get an Oscar nomination for this role. A surprise for me was seeing Kim Wayans (In Living Color–TV series, Juwanna Mann) as her strict mother, Audrey; she was excellent in this serious role. In conjunction with the telling of this story, there was the beautiful, intimate filming of it, with stark close-ups washed in rich colors. Whether you are gay or straight, I feel all can appreciate this movie; for ultimately, we are all human.
3 1/4 stars