Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Rocksteady Restrepo

My ex girlfriend's best friend and former roommate had an odd, expensive and time consuming hobby. She would collect magazines, dozens of them, and clip out pictures she liked. I'm not sure what she did with them, but I couldn't help but see the consequences of it. Copies of Cosmopolitan and Vogue were littered across the living room and stacked onto bookshelves. Back issues of People were stuffed into drawers. I couldn't help but pick up an occasional magazine and flip through the cut and torn pages. A copy of Vanity Fair caught my attention with the words "Into the Valley of Death," a sharp contrast to Katherine Heigl's upturned smirk on the cover. I read the entire piece standing up, my mouth agape and mind racing. It was the most gruesome account of the wars I had ever read, and two years later I can still remember the chill I got from holding that magazine.

It was quite a surprise to learn that a documentary called Restrepo would be released by the journalists who covered the story for Vanity Fair, writer Sebastian Junger and photographer Tim Hetherington. They wove together combat footage with interviews with the men from second platoon, Battle Company 2/503, with no narration whatsoever. The trailer speaks to the impact of the decision to let the men and the footage do the talking. There seems to be no date for theatrical release quite yet, but the film has won The Grand Jury prize for best documentary at Sundance (a Sundance win usually secures distribution, but like the article says, does not guarantee commercial vitality). National Geographic Channel has secured television rights for this fall, but the possibility of it being edited for language and content would seriously damage the intent and purpose of the film.

For you Hurt Locker haters out there, I'm sorry to report that along with Avatar, it leads the Oscar pack with nine nominations, including best picture, director and actor. Am I the only one who thinks it's a farce that Up is in both best picture and best animated feature categories? And Sam Rockwell deserved both a best actor and best supporting actor nomination for playing himself twice in Moon.


Skip Rohde said...

Thanks for the link to the Vanity Fair article. I remember reading it when it first came out and it's as powerful now as it was then. I'll watch for the documentary as soon as it comes out. Your writing about your own experiences, by the way, has been just as powerful. All the best to you.

Pattie Matheson said...

I remember that article but read it again anyway. Compelling.

Junger's description of Sgt Rice reminded me of Ice Man, steely fighters both.

Whenever eyebrows are raised around here at my copies of Vanity Fair I just say I read it for the articles ;)


Pattie Matheson said...

PS: now I see what the D-rings are for. Next time maybe I'll get heavier ones. Thanks for all those suggestions btw about things to send overseas.

CI-Roller Dude said...

Hey wait...they're going to make a movie about the "Battle of Fallujah" and they were going to have Harrison Ford play my part...then the director met me and said: "Chevy Chase would be more accurate...or one of the 3 stooges..."

(just kidding.)
But keep these words in mind whenever watching a movie made in Hollywood Calif.

"This shit was made in Hollywood, it was made for profit, not to be accurate."

Rob W said...

thanks for putting a little love in there for the Paratroopers from Battle Company. I've been lucky enough to have the privilege to serve with both "Army of Dude" and Battle Company, 2/503rd during that tumultuous deployment to the Korengal Valley.

I highly recommend this movie to anyone who wants to know what our men in Afghanistan are going through. There will be a book coming out in the April/May timeframe entitled, "War" by Sebastian Junger. Should be great, the movie will premiere in August in NY, LA and I believe DC. Dude- I will keep you posted if I hear anything else.

Unknown said...

His "The Perect Storm" was a great book.

membrain said...

I remember reading the Vanity Fair article as well. I probably got the link from you. I'm looking forward to Restrepo. Thanks for the heads up.

Kudo's to the producers for getting this done.

It does make me wonder what roadblocks award winning photo journalists Scott Kesterson and David Leeson are having getting their film AT WAR released.

All the reviews I've read by Afghan War Vets who have seen the pre-screening are over the top in their praise for it's gut wrenching authenticity.


Kanani said...

I've sat at enough tables with screenwriters and producers to know that most of what they say is "will it be marketable, will we make back the money we spend, can we get a distribution deal?"

These concerns all come first when it comes to the movie making business.
And that's why in the past a few writers of books have been known to turn their backs on the movies that were based on their work. The concerns are just much different.

Well, what can I say? Someday... you'll see!

BostonMaggie said...

Saw that you are famous now....Wikipedia no less.
Guess it was a Valentine's present. Congrats.

Alex Horton said...


Thanks for the head's up. Maybe someday a student will get a bad grade for using me as a source.