If you haven’t seen it, I suggest checking out The Fighting Season and learning a little more about what you absolutely won’t see in the news at all. Produced by Ricky Schroeder, this documentary series spends time on the ground in Afghanistan in current times as our military is drawing down and preparing to pull out of country for good…for now.
As anyone is aware, there is no news coming out of Afghanistan, not because there is no news to report, but because the MSM doesn’t care, doesn’t see a story and doesn’t think it is worth it. However, we still have young men and women there EVERY SINGLE DAY fighting and getting shot and wounded to support and continue our efforts for the last 14 years.
This series follows along with a platoon from 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (a unit I fought along with in 2006-2007) and with 2/504th Airborne Battalion out of the 82nd Airborne Division and a Police Mentoring team in Afghanistan. It may have been 8 years since I was last there as a soldier (5 years since I was there as a military contractor) but watching this brings it all back. It was like I never left, as the negotiations, the Afghan National Police, the Afghan National Army, the people, the scenery, the dirt are no different than they were since the last time I was there.
From the casual observer it probably looks like not much has progressed over the years and for some parts of the country and the military and police I am sure that is the case. We used to say “two steps forward, one step back”, and it probably looks worse than that. However if what I saw in this series in an indication of the entire country and it’s forces then I can tell you a lot of progress has been made. Afghan progress is not the same pace as American progress, nor will it ever be. You can’t measure them against out standards, just like you can’t measure life in Hawaii against life in New York City.
The 6-part series gives the viewer a small glimpse of the life of the every day soldier in Afghanistan today. From the Infantryman in a patrol on the ground to a Battalion Commander trying to plan a operation and his staff going through MDMP (Military Decision Making Process).
They are not long episodes and are worth the time to watch. Educate yourself, do more than wear a flag shirt on the 4th, and share patriotic memes on Facebook on Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day. You don’t have to go through Basic Training, you don’t have to live in the suck, you don’t even have to break a sweat. Just watch and educate yourself. Of course you need DirectTV or a friend with it to see it right now. Hopefully it comes out on other channels soon or at least NetFlix.
The Video says it all, but to summarize…Nick, Tom and the boys from RangerUp along with Matt B. and the Article15 crew along with Tim Kennedy, and a couple of MoH recipients thrown in for good measure are looking to make a movie to shame all movies.
They need your help to get it over the goal line.
I even heard JJ Abrams is giving up and running off to the Peace Corps now*
A week ago today I went to the theater and watched Act of Valor. Beforehand I had read through many of the personal and professional movie critic write-ups about the movie. I saw all the negatives that people had written; it was nothing more than recruiter movie, the acting was bad, and the end was predictable.
So let me start with answering these critiques before I move into my review.
Act of Valor is as much a recruiting movie as Blackhawk Down, Green Berets, or The Hurt Locker. It was a war-based action movie. There is no Navy recruiter advertisement before, during or after the movie. There is nothing that shows being a Seal is easy and for everyone. In fact it shows that you have to leave your family with no notice, that you can really get hurt and you can die. There is nothing “recruiting” about it. It shows dudes that are in great shape, who have awesome guns and toys and they go to bad places and kill bad dudes. How is that different from just about any other war-based action movie.
Another one was that is was bad acting. Hmm, if all I cared about what quality top-notch acting, I would never watch a movie that didn’t have either Clint Eastwood, Don Cheadle or Jack Nicholson in it. I mean come on, was Blue Brothers, The Matrix or Star Wars known for great acting? I didn’t think so. But they were really good movies. They provided entertainment for the viewer. They, like many other movies which are really good in the popular opinion or ticket sales, are just entertaining. They either make you laugh, cry, or take you away from reality and for a hour or two make you forget about all the other crap in life. That is what Act of Valor does too. But this movie is far and above beyond that, because these “bad actors” are the real deal. When you consider they never went to theater classes, grew up bouncing from commercial or sitcom to some other acting gig, then they are actually pretty good actors in my book. (more…)
I wanted to take a second and wish all the readers of this blog a wonderful and Happy New Year. 2011 has been a pretty crazy year and I can’t believe it is already winding down to an end. I am also anxious to see what 2012 will bring us. I mean if you look back at where we were on Dec 31st, 2010 who knew that Qaddafi, Bin Laden and Kim-Jong Il would all be dead this year, 2 of them at the hands of Americans, who knows maybe all three?
Between making Bin Laden into fish crap, Arab Spring uprising, Japan almost getting taken off the map (and this time not by us) and the supposed end of the war in Iraq 2011 has been a very eventful year.
In 2011 I was lucky enough to be part of the film project Happy New Year (www.happynewyearfilm.com). I was privileged to host a screening of it at the 2011 Milblog Conference in Washington DC and of course have stayed very close to my friends, Michael, Lorrell and Joe in promoting it and getting the word out. I am also always talking to my good friend Mike Scott from the film Severe Clear (www.severeclearthemovie.com) and am working a couple of different projects with him. I also worked very close with my good friend Matt Goss (www.mattgoss.biz) on an awesome Veterans Day Show I helped host by giving almost 100 Veterans and their guests a great night out with Dinner (thanks to Caesars Palace) and a show in Matt’s theater, The Gossy Room.
Matt and I are already working with Caesars for an even bigger show in 2012. In addition I am working on a new film project in 2012 which promises to be an awe-inspiring full-length independent feature film called Bards of War. Produced and Directed by one of my closest friends, Scott Kesterson it will no doubt be an eye-opening experience for most of America on what the real stories are coming out of Afghanistan as told by the Bards, the soldiers. Tonight at midnight the Facebook page for the project will go live and within days the website should be up and developing also. Until then swing by the twitter page at www.twitter.com/bardsofwar and follow. For anyone that has followed Scott’s work in the past, you will be very pleased with this project and the film.
So as you can see, Bouhammer.com is already very active in several big things for the new year and it has not even started yet. Who knows what else is in store for the site and the blog. Then again who knows what is in store for our country and our military.
Thanks again for taking the time to care and read this blog and I hope you continue to follow it and like what you see into 2012.
I was recently made aware of this great tribute written about my late friend Tim Hetherington, who was killed in Libya. Veteran Richard Allen Smith wrote a nice heart-warming peice about the impace that Tim and Tim’s work (RESTREPO) made on him personally.
Hetherington’s Restrepo depicted all of that. The reality of war. The tragedy, the camaraderie, the absurdity, and the ridiculous things you do to keep yourself sane. I may not have known Tim Hetherington, but his work has had a greater affect on me than most of my personal relationships, let alone any movie, could ever possibly have. That’s why when I learned of his death in Libya I was absolutely floored. I spent the whole day in a fog. It was like reliving the days that we lost guys in Afghanistan all over again.
I am very proud to announce that Bouhammer.com in partnership with One Light Left films will be presenting a special screening of the critically-acclaimed film Happy New Year at this year’s 6th Annual Milblog conference in Arlington, VA on April 29th.
Coming straight off a a multi-city film festival tour, which began with the famous South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, TX. The Directory/Writer of the original play and then feature film, Mr. Lorrell Manning will be sitting on one of the panels of the Milblog Conference titled “War and Film”. More information about the panel and the conference can be found at http://milblogconference.milblogging.com/conference-panels/
Joining Mr. Manning at the special screening on Friday Afternoon at 2:15 PM sharp is Lead Actor/Producer Michael Cuomo and Military Advisor and supporting actor Joseph Harrell. Immediately following the screening, I will be facilitating a Q&A session with all three gentlemen.
HAPPY NEW YEAR is the story of “Sgt. Cole Lewis” who, mentally and physically scarred by his time served in Iraq and Afghanistan, finds humanity, compassion and friendship in a group of similarly injured veterans in the psychiatric ward at a remote Veterans Hospital. The group, ranging from guys left behind from WWII and Vietnam, to those recently injured in the Middle East, slowly become Lewis’ new family. Along with them, he will attempt to redefine his sense of self, and find a new place in the world. Through humor and pathos, Lewis becomes a ray of hope in the ward, as the men find a way to combat their post-war grief. However, just as their luck starts to change, Lewis soon faces his fiercest battle yet.
I have been working with the creators and stars of this feature movie since watching a personal screening of the movie, last December in NYC. I was convinced at that point that this was something all people need to see. This movie does not glamorize war-fighting, and it also does not victimize those who fight it. Instead it shows the good and bad sides of recovery, to include how our warriors find humor in the worst of times, how true leaders emerge from the shadows and how different people deal with their wounds in different ways.
Not every story ends tragically or happy, sometimes they are in between. Sometimes what is one person’s tragedy is someone else’s happiness.
The screening is free and will start at 2:15PM sharp.
If you are attending the 2011 Milblog Conference, I look forward to you joining me at this very special screening.
NOTE-This is the third movie screening that has been sponsored by Bouhammer.com. The first was of the documentary At War at the 2009 Milblog Conference, the second was of RESTREPO in July, 2010 at the New York State Museum.
Tonight at 9PM EST the critically acclaimed documentary, RESTREPO will air in its entirety on National Geographic Channel. I have talked about RESTREPO several times on this blog not only in reviewing it but also in the Screening that Bouhammer.com did of the movie at the New York State Museum. You can see all the posts I have written about the movie, to include 3 separate posts in review of it at http://www.bouhammer.com/?s=restrepo&submit=Go
Last week I received an advance screener DVD of the movie that will air tonight on National Geographic Channel. Even though I had seen it already, there is a lot to take in and I was glad to have the opportunity to view the movie again.
If you have seen it already, it is worth seeing again. If you haven’t then take some time and watch it tonight on NGC, preferably on HD if you have it. It is a lot to take in and consider. If you can, record it so you can go back and watch it again.