Screening Room: ’13 Hours’

Pablo Schreiber, John Krasinski, and David Denman in '13 Hours' (Paramount Pictures)
Pablo Schreiber, John Krasinski, and David Denman in 13 Hours (Paramount Pictures)

When the US consulate in Benghazi was attacked by an Islamist militia in September 2012, they were quickly overwhelmed. Their only fighting chance was a small team of contractors stationed at a nearby CIA station. Michael Bay’s 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is based on those contractors’ tell-all book about the massive firefight and bureaucratic snafus that followed the assault.

13 Hours opens this weekend, in case you’ve already seen all the December awards movies. My review is at Film Journal International:

That sound you hear while exiting the theater as 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi rumbles to a finish is something like relief. Because the last thing that our panic room of an election season needed was a Michael Bay gasoline bomb getting dumped onto the simmering garbage fire that is the Benghazi investigation. That hasn’t happened. The closest that this bruising but respectful film comes to sounding like a cable-news shouting head is when one character, bemused that the news back home is attributing the attacks to protesters, says matter-of-factly, “We didn’t hear any protests.” Then it’s back to the shooting; we are in Bay country, after all…

Here’s the trailer:

New on DVD: ‘Promised Land’

promisedland2

promisedland-dvdOne of the more overlooked films of 2012 was the Matt Damon and John Krasinski-scripted Promised Land, possibly because it was marketed as a film about the gas-fracking controversy, when in fact it’s a smart and sensitive drama-comedy about the broader state of the nation.

It hit DVD and Blu-ray last week, here’s part of my review:

“You’re the natural gas people.” That’s how folks identify Steve (Matt Damon) and Sue (Frances McDormand). There’s a lot to unpack in that assessment, and Gus Van Sant’s Promised Land is smart enough to take most of its running time to do so, spinning a clever moral comedy at the same time. In those few words are contained just about every element, from hope to greed to fear and anxiety, that makes up the emotive froth of American malaise, circa 2012…

You can see the trailer here:

New in Theaters: ‘Promised Land’

promised-land-posterMatt Damon and John Krasinski’s film about natural gas salespeople and anti-frackers is getting a limited release just before the end of the year; it’s playing in a very few places now but is worth looking for when it expands wider in January:

“You’re the natural gas people.” That’s how folks identify Steve (Matt Damon) and Sue (Frances McDormand). There’s a lot to unpack in that assessment, and Gus Van Sant’s Promised Land is smart enough to take most of its running time to do so, spinning a clever moral comedy at the same time. In those few words are contained just about every element, from hope to greed to fear and anxiety, that makes up the emotive froth of American malaise, circa 2012…

My full review is at PopMatters.

You can see the trailer here: