This past weekend I finished reading Sebastian Junger’s new book War — which along with the accompanying documentary Restrepo (directed by both Junger and photojournalist Tim Hetherington) — documents one U.S. Army platoon’s entire 15 month deployment to Afghanistan’s Korangal valley, one of the most dangerous places in the world. Rather than focusing on the politics of the War in Afghanistan, both War and Restrepo center on the soldiers on the front lines. The book and film are a sobering look at the everyday GIs that are out there in the shit; dividing their mountainous existence between boredom, firefights, reinforcing their post and dealing with the local Afghans. I highly recommend both the book and the film, which each provide a poignant perspective on the war in Afghanistan, and at the same time manage to avoid the pitfalls of the typical modern war documentary. [Restrepo / War]
A ’55 Chevy “one-fifty” with a 454 and four on the floor. James Taylor at the wheel and Dennis Wilson riding shotgun; no names and no bullshit. Two-Lane Blacktop came out two years before American Graffiti and two after Easy Rider. The film remains a cult classic. Good old American muscle. [Two-Lane Blacktop]
When I first met Alexander Olch a few years ago about working on his PR I gave him a hard time about his dueling career paths. “Are you a tie designer or a filmmaker?” I asked. With a grin he replied, “both!” it took a little convincing but we did end up working with Olch for his PR (and he still remains a client). Just yesterday I saw Mr. Olch’s writer, director, filmmaker role come to fruition when his documentary The Windmill Movie opened at Film Forum. The film is a portrait of Richard Rogers — Alexander’s film professor and mentor at Harvard — that is culled from decades worth of archival footage that Richard shot in an effort to tell the story of his life. Olch does an amazing job of putting together the long-over-due tale of Dick Rogers’ of professional jealousy, a resented privileged upbringing and the struggle to make it all into a film.