Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Reel Facts & Opinions: Everything You Need to Know About AMERICAN SNIPER

Having already seen a limited theatre release over Christmas (which makes it a 2014, Oscar-eligible film), Clint Eastwood’s newest directorial effort, AMERICAN SNIPER, finally sees a wide release this week. Here is everything you need to know about it. 

What is this about? – AMERICAN SNIPER is based upon the memoir American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History, by U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. Kyle earned that title by accumulating 160 confirmed kills from 1999 to 2009 and four tours in the Iraq War. 

Who is playing Chris Kyle? – Kyle, who was awarded several commendations for acts of heroism, is being played by Bradley Cooper. Cooper has earned Oscar nominations for his work in AMERICAN HUSTLE (2013), and SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (2012)…and last summer provided the voice for the CGI character Rocket Raccoon in the smash-hit GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. Cooper’s other notable credits include THE HANGOVER (2009), THE A-TEAM (2010), LIMITLESS (2011), and THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES (2013). Cooper is joined on-screen by Sienna Miller, whose notable credits include ALFIE (2004), FACTORY GIRL (2006), STARDUST (2007), G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA (2009), and this past year’s FOXCATCHER. 

Who is the director? – Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood is back behind the camera to bring this true story to the big screen. Eastwood has won Oscars for his UNFORGIVEN (1992), and MILLION DOLLAR BABY (2004). His other notable credits as a director include (but limited to) HEARTBREAK RIDGE (1986), THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY (1995), MYSTIC RIVER (2003), FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS (2006), and GRAN TORINO (2008). 

Random Facts – This is the first time Cooper and Eastwood have worked on a film together * Cooper bulked up for the role by eating 8,000 calories a day, and prepared by training with a Navy SEAL sniper * Director David O’Russell, who guided Cooper to Oscar nominations in AMERICAN HUSTLE and SLIVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, was attached to direct AMERICAN SNIPER but the deal fell through. Steven Spielberg was then circling the project but eventually moved on and the gig went to Eastwood * 

What to expect – With a fair number of nominations and well-regarded films and performances under his belt, Bradley Cooper has proven that he can certainly carry a role. He’s made the transition from comedy to drama seamlessly, and with the pressure of getting a true story/real person correct on-screen, he has the chance to really rise to the occasion. With Cooper having so much to carry, the burden then should be lighter on Clint Eastwood, who is really in need of a hit or a statement that he’s not getting too old for this directing business. Although Eastwood’s gentle touch and efficient nuts-and-bolts work has been fine, he has put out some boring, uneventful, and critically drubbed films recently; JERSEY BOYS (2014), TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE (2012), J. EDGAR (2011), and HEREAFTER (2010). But the man with the squint should not be counted out. This time around he has some strong material and the actor to pull it off, and his vast experience should prevent him from jerking the trigger on a film with the red, white, and blue up-front and flying high. 


AMERICAN SNIPER opens in select theatres on Thursday, January 15th, and finally goes wide on Friday. 

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