The J.O.T. Film Festival 2013, Day Three

Three days down, one to go, with Julia’s arrival home tonight signifying the end of this year’s proceedings. Here’s what went down on day three. . . .

Dog Soldiers (2002)

This movie has been on my radar for a couple years but I’d never seen it. I think I might have even rented it once before but didn’t get around to watching it. Now I’m kicking myself, because for my money this may be the Greatest Werewolf Movie Ever Made. If it is surpassed, I’d like to know by what. Sure, the werewolves themselves look a little cheesy, but the story, and the way the movie is put together, is pretty damn awesome.

Some regular British army dudes are in the wilds of Scotland (gorgeous too, I might add) on a routine training mission against some special forces dudes. Turns out it is in a part of the country where, rumor has it, people are known to up and disappear. And it turns out that this “routine training mission” is a big setup and the army unit is there as bait to catch . . . you guessed it . . . a werewolf. Things go awry, of course, and there turns out to be more than just one of the critters, and the whole thing turns into an exercise in just trying to survive the night.

There’s a fair amount of blood and gore, so it may not be for the squeamish, but I really enjoyed it. I also enjoyed that the main character is played by Kevin McKidd, who I was only familiar with as one of the better actors in the HBO series, Rome, as Lucius Vorenus. He plays a similar character here, I suppose, but he does a great job. Another familiar face was that of Liam Cunningham, who plays a villain here (the commander of the special forces unit). I’ve been seeing him a lot lately as Davos Seaworth in Game of Thrones. In GoT he’s the guy, if you recall, who is loyal to Stanis Baratheon in his bid to rule Westeros, but sees the Red Witch as an evil influence and only earns a cold spot in a dungeon cell for saying so. He lost his only son in the penultimate episode of season two, “Blackwater,” which just so happened to be directed by Neil Marshall, the guy who directed . . . Dog Soldiers! Marshall has made three other movies I’ve been highly entertained by: the cave exploring horror movie The Descent, the fighting-women-in-bellydance-outfits actioner Doomsday, and the sword and sandals CGI bloodbath, Centurion. Hell, I might just go back and watch all three of these movies!

Dog Soldiers is highly recommended if you like monster movies. Especially ones that have them fighting army men. I had a blast with it.

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Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Can you believe I’ve never seen this one before? It’s true, this was the first viewing. When it came out, I was tired of Tom Hanks, kind of tired of Spielberg, and just wasn’t that interested. It had been so highly lauded, and the landing at D-Day so discussed, I was curious if it would still hold up.

Man, does it ever.

I’m glad this movie was made pre-CGI, because having access to that technology probably would have made the opening 40 minutes or so just too much. Even so, it is still powerful, powerful stuff. Violent, realistic . . . it isn’t easy to watch. Who can imagine experiencing this in person and not being totally screwed up in the head after surviving it? It really makes one reflect on the horrors of war, and how young men have been shoved through the meat grinder to satisfy the whims of older men. It’s heartbreaking, and also heartbreaking that any real breakthroughs in treating PTSD happened long after any of these men could benefit from them.

The final battle at the end goes on a bit longer than I’d prefer, I suppose . . . it starts to feel like just another action movie at that point. But the story is a good one, and the ending is, at best, bittersweet.

It’s truly a classic. Highly recommended, especially today, the 69th anniversary of the Invasion of Normandy.

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Author: Chris

Chris La Tray is a writer, a walker, and a photographer. He is an enrolled member of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians and lives in Missoula, MT.

5 thoughts on “The J.O.T. Film Festival 2013, Day Three”

  1. I saw Saving Private Ryan right after it came out–I was at a conference on the West Coast and one of the guys who went was an ex-Marine officer who’d served in Vietnam. He got all emotional when the shooting started (maybe it was a way to get the women to dote on him, but I don’t think so). I remember the way the bullets sounded as if they were flying through the theater. I felt sad for Ryan at the end, with the realization he spent his whole life trying to live up to the expectations of the guy who “saved” him. However, it was a good movie.

    1. My wife said the same thing about the theater experience. At the volume I was watching at home, it probably sounded like the neighborhood was under attack! But when I turned it down toward the end, I couldn’t hear the quiet parts. He’ll, I didn’t even hear Tom Hanks’s last words to Ryan.

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