The Armed Forces Network provides American troops, their families, and government contractors with a nice slice of the American media and entertainment from back home. But because the way the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS, and yes, it is pronounced like “a farts”) is run, the programming needs to remain neutral, balanced, and ad-free.
AFRTS is a nonprofit enterprise owned by the U.S. government. It does not and cannot air commercials during its programs. This is to avoid looking like any company has the endorsement of or sponsorship from the Department of Defense. Television shows are created with three commercial gaps in mind and, on AFN, these get replaced with public service announcements and command information spots that are just comically bad.
AFN does run PSAs from the Ad Council that are actually high-quality and are made with great care. The Ad Council is a nonprofit organization that works heavily with agencies of the U.S. Government. Because they’re meant to raise awareness on non-partisan issues, they’re allowed to play on AFN.
They’re intended for general audiences and need to have the quality to compete against a paid advertisement. This is why troops still see ads for McGruff the Crime Dog while they’re trying to catch the latest episode of Game of Thrones.
Which brings us to the most ill-received commercials: the command information spots. To put it bluntly, the top priority is to get the message across. This can range from just a Drill Instructor telling you to wear a seat belt to ads like Squeakers, The OPSEC Mouse.
It’s funny the first time, but watching the same ad every time you go to the chow hall will rot your brain. This isn’t the fault of the creators: The budget just isn’t there, the equipment is dated (if there at all), and deadlines are tight. A typical AFN commercial request comes down from command with little more than a call to action and a quick turnaround demand. Some of the nicer AFN commercials are made at Fort Meade, while the less-polished ones are made overseas. Both are created by civilian talent and troops with film-making aspirations.
When it comes time to create a new ad, brainstorm meetings are held to come up with something that’s memorable — that’s the key to all of this. It can be goofy. It can be weird. It can even be about a man in a Batman mask running around Bagram Airfield, shaking people down for breaking rules — as long as you remember the message.
Between his colorful comments on Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares, and his savage Twitter food criticisms, Gordon Ramsey is the absolute embodiment of English snark. Granted, you’d be a hard ass like him too if you demanded the best from your subordinates. Much like an NCO treats their troops, nothing is done out of spite — he’s just pushing them to be the best they can be.
The tables flipped in season 4 of his show The F Word (UK).
Corporals Ben Slater and Tim Richards met with Ramsey at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM) near Lympstone, Devon. The CTCRM is the principal training center for the UK’s Royal Marines.
The crews that are there for 32 weeks at a time are given mundane food, despite the twice the average calorie intake. Before they would allow Ramsey to do what he does best, the Royal Marines were going to show him why troops need those extra calories…
…by running him through the Woodbury Common’s endurance course.
Right out the gate, Ramsey arrives to the 17k (roughly 10.5 miles) course late. As every fighting man and woman in the world knows, “If you’re not early, you’re not on time. If you’re late, you’re SOL.”
The stern and loud head chef was dropped to do 100 press-ups (the British way of saying push-ups.) Referring to the instructor, Ramsey even quips “Is he always that miserable first thing in the morning? Does he ever crack a smile? F*ck me.”
Every recruit runs the course carrying 32 lbs. of gear and an SA80 Rifle. And then they take the ‘sheep dip’ and ‘smartie tubes.’
The sheep dip is a unique and traditional obstacle on the Commando Course. It consists of submerged concrete tunnels, filled with water and mud, that you must swim through. You are entirely reliant on the other Marine to help you make it across to the other side. The smartie tubes are just a tiny sewer tunnel that you need to crawl through.
He didn’t finish with any impressive time, but he held his head up high — and he didn’t finish last. Not bad for a man twice the average recruit’s age.
Afterwards, he finally got to return the favor and give the Royal Marines a lesson in cooking to help get past the monotony of their rations and the British version on an MRE.
Consider the values that military service instills. Honor. Purpose. Prestige. Service members wake up with a daily mission to embody those values and while on active duty, they are provided the means and the circumstances to do so.
But when they leave the service, does the drive to live by military values diminish? Veterans across the country will assure you, it does not. That’s why the transition back to civilian life is such a hot topic. Finding a new outlet for warrior values is a bear that every veteran has to wrestle and tame.
So what if there was a school whose founding mission was to teach returning veterans the skills necessary to put those values to work? As it turns out, that school exists. It’s the Culinary Institute of America and it was founded to teach returning WWII vets the fighting arts of gourmet cooking.
The troops, lined up for inspection. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)
Meals Ready To Eat host August Dannehl visited Hyde Park, NY, to get a first hand taste of daily operations at CIA.
It sure beats latrine duty. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)
What he found there was an atmosphere of rigor, discipline, and sky high expectations — in other words, a culinary boot camp. And why not? A busy kitchen is its own kind of battlefield and cooks are the troops who serve there. At CIA, students, including notable veterans, learn what it takes to become a new generation of American chefs.
There aren’t many war movies better than Saving Private Ryan, Steven Spielberg’s World War II masterpiece. It’s definitely worth watching at home, but you’ll soon have a chance to see it in theaters again, more than two decades after its original release.
The film is returning to theaters to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Participating theaters will host a matinee at 3:00 p.m. on June 2, 2019, and an evening screening at 7:00 on June 5, 2019. D-Day took place on June 6, 1944.
Saving Private Ryan tells the story of a squad of Army Rangers played by Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Giovanni Ribis, Vin Diesel, Adam Goldberg, and Jeremy Davies. Led by John Miller (Tom Hanks), their mission is to find and rescue a paratrooper, Ryan (Matt Damon), the only survivor of his four military brothers.
SAVING PRIVATE RYAN Official Trailer (1998) Tom Hanks HD Movie | TrueMovies Trailer
Saving Private Ryan was a commercial and critical hit when it was first released. It was the highest grossing film of 1998, grossing 1 million that year, the equivalent of about 0 million today. It received 11 Academy Award nominations, winning for Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing and Best Film Editing, infamously losing the Best Picture race to Shakespeare in Love.
The opening scene of the film is a sprawling, brutal 20-plus minute recreation of the invasion that immerses the viewer in the horrors of combat without glorifying war.
“[W]e wanted people to get the feeling that despite what you see in movies and what you read in books, death in hellacious combat like there was on Omaha Beach can sometimes be very random, and it can be shocking because it’s so close,” Marine veteran Dale Dye, the film’s military advisor, told Task Purpose.
It’s the kind of scene, and the kind of film, that deserves to be seen in theaters, so don’t miss this opportunity.
This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.
Red Sparrow is an unapologetically adult, complicated, and ambitious spy thriller based on the Edgar Award-winning novel by former CIA agent, Jason Matthews. Set in current times, it’s a throwback to the darkest Cold War spy thrillers and earns its R rating with a mix of sex and violence that hearkens back to the best 70s spy movies.
Jason Matthews talked to us about his own experiences in the CIA and why post-Soviet Russia is still a threat to democracy.
In the movie, Jennifer Lawrence plays Dominika Egorova, a Bolshoi ballerina who’s recruited to Russian intelligence after an on-stage injury ends her dancing career. Her uncle happens to be deputy director of the SVR and he sends her to Sparrow School, where she’s trained to use her sexuality as a weapon against Russian enemies.
Dominika pursues her own agenda as she’s tasked with seducing an American CIA agent (Joel Edgerton) and finding the identity of a mole in Russian intelligence. There’s a lot of methodical tradecraft punctuated by bursts of violence and sex. Red Sparrow isn’t aimed at the Hunger Games audience and makes no apologies about being a movie for adults.
Jason is a CIA veteran who doesn’t hedge his thoughts about Russia. The good news for fans of the movie is that the two additional novels in his trilogy might make even better films.
You left the CIA in 2010. How did you become a novelist?
I left after 33 years. In the clandestine service part of the agency, our careers were very experiential, 24/7. You were always on, you were always looking for surveillance, you’re always wondering about rooms being bugged.
When that lifestyle ended, it ends with the crash. One of the familiar Hollywood tropes of retired spies is the big black car pulls up to your house and they recruit you back into service. In reality, that never happens. When you’re out, you’re out.
I started writing fictionalized little snippets of accounts of people that we’ve known, fictionalized mosaics of places we’ve been and things we’ve done. Before I knew it, I had a novel together.
The novel Red Sparrow is a throwback to the old-school spy novels that emphasize tradecraft, as opposed to a lot of the contemporary books that are action novels with spy plots grafted onto them.
Absolutely. There are lots of great thriller writers out there, but they mostly write about counterterrorism and catching the briefcase nuke. I wanted to write a classic, old spy yarn with the Russians as the main opponents.
You were born in the 50s. Did you grow up on that kind of fiction and those movies?
Sure. There were a lot of great spy movies in the 60’s and 70’s, really iconic sort of film-noir kinds of things. But I think my worldview was formulated by 33 years in the service.
My wife was also in the service, we were a tandem couple. We lived in ten foreign capitals and we worked on a lot of different human targets, but we also kept our eye out for the Russians because that was the gold ring.
You wrote these novels and then this film got developed at a time when Americans probably weren’t thinking as much about the Russians. Here we are in 2018 and the Russians are at the front of everyone’s mind again.
I wake up every morning and I thank Vladimir Putin for providing endless content for books and movies. He’s doing a great job as a PR director for us.
Russia is always gonna be sort of a conundrum, they’re always gonna be meddling. They love those active measures, political influence campaigns. They’ve been doing them since the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. Vladimir Putin’s singular goal is to stay in power. That will take a weakened America, a weakened NATO, and a weakened Atlantic Alliance. He just wants to stay in power.
If he can fuss with the American democracy – and I don’t care whether you’re Democrat or Republican — all the partisanship, all the squabbling just plays into the Russian hands. They’re rubbing their hands in delight in the Kremlin.
There’s a school of thought that the Russian love of espionage is a trait that goes back centuries and that it’s not something that started with the Soviets.
I think that’s absolutely right on. You hesitate to generalize, but Russians are xenophobic. The only people they hate more than foreigners are themselves. They don’t like to be ignored, they don’t like to be belittled. They want a seat around the table. Russia is always caught between the European elegance of Catherine the Great and the Slavic beastliness of Ivan the Terrible.
As an expert, what do you think the United States should be doing right now to deal with this current wave of Russian influence, or can we say, interference?
I think that we have to show resolve, we have to show solidarity, we’ve got to stop our partisan squabbling, and create a unified front. Russia, historically, stops what they’re doing when the cost of it becomes more than the profits that they imagine they’re getting.
Putin has got elections coming up this year and, if you have any doubt what he considers the vulnerable spots in any election process, he has unplugged his internet, he controls state television and radio, he has disqualified his major opponents from running, and he makes demonstrations in the streets illegal. That’s the Russian playbook and, if we could find the cracks in the cement between all those elements and give him a headache, he’ll be too busy to start messing around with our process.
Obviously, people with an interest in Russian spy tales are going to line up to see Red Sparrow. Do you think the movie can act as a wakeup call for the broader Hollywood audience, the Jennifer Lawrence fans who don’t think about our current situation with Russia?
Using a broad brush, maybe audiences will take back home the fact that the Cold War never ended, we’re going through a second Cold War, and the Russians mean to do us harm. The movie itself, you know it’s sexy, it’s violent, it’s got a tremendous cast and terrific characters, but I don’t know how much American theatergoers will bring home besides the realization that Russia is not our ally.
You created a spy character who’s a woman. I don’t think there’s been a woman this prominent in spy fiction before. Was that a conscious choice or something that just happened based on the stories you knew from your career?
Yes and no. I thought it would be interesting and evocative to make the main character the heroine. I had read a little bit about the famous Sparrow Schools in the 60s and the 70s in the Soviet Union and how horrible they were. It was almost like slavery, making women go to those kinds of schools.
Apart from the sexpionage, Dominika falls in love with the CIA officer who recruits her. So, there’s mortal danger and a love affair and Sparrow School. I thought it was an interesting combination.
Is that sexpionage something that’s still in the playbook?
Western intel services never got into sexpionage because they thought that anyone recruited by sexual blackmail would be a not trustworthy source. I think the old Sparrow School in the Soviet City of Kazan is probably closed. But if a human target with access to classified information went to Moscow, he’d probably see a modern-day Sparrow at one of the bars of the five-star hotels in Moscow. They would be there ready and waiting.
What are you working on now? What’s next?
This year, the third book in the Sparrow trilogy came out, Kremlin’s Candidate. I told myself I was going to take a little break, but the next morning I found myself staring at my computer screen trying to figure out a new plot. I don’t have anything yet, but I can’t stop.
“Spider-Man: Far From Home” is in theaters. And if you head out to see it, make sure you stay until the very end.
There are two must-watch end-credits scenes that will have fans talking long after the movie is over. The last one will change the way you see the entire movie.
If you left the theater early, or were confused at all, INSIDER has you covered.
The first end-credits scene
MJ and Peter Parker are officially a couple.
The scene picks up right where the movie ended with MJ and Peter Parker across the street from Madison Square Garden in New York City after the two flew through the city skies.
“Are you OK?” asks Peter Parker.
“Yeah, I’m never doing that again,” MJ tells Parker.
Peter’s about to head off when a breaking news report comes on a screen on the side of Madison Square Garden. The newsman says he has “disturbing revelations” about last week’s attack in London.
“An anonymous source provided this video,” says the newsman. “It shows Quentin Beck aka Mysterio moments before his death.”
The news stream then cuts to Mysterio looking right into the camera saying that he managed to send the Elementals back through an inter-dimensional rip in time and space, but he’s not confident he’s going to make it.
“Spider-Man attacked me for some reason,” says Beck. “He has an army of weaponized drones. Stark technology. He said he’s going to be the next Iron Man.”
The video then cuts to footage of Spider-Man speaking with his Stark technology glasses, E.D.I.T.H.
“Are you sure you want to commence the drone attack? There will be significant casualties,” says E.D.I.T.H. The Stark glasses stand for “Even Dead, I’m the hero.”
Spider-Man is then heard saying he doesn’t care.
“Execute them all,” Spider-Man appears to say.
The newsman says the video was released on the “controversial news website” theDailyBugle.net.
J.K. Simmons then appears on screen reprising his role as J. Jonah Jameson, the head of the fictional New York City tabloid.
“There you have it, folks. Conclusive proof that Spider-Man was responsible for the brutal murder of Mysterio, an inter-dimensional warrior who gave his life to protect our planet and who, will no doubt, go down in history as the greatest superhero of all time,” says Jameson.
Jameson’s not done yet. He then shows another clip of Mysterio.
“Spider-Man’s real name is Peter Parker,” he says.
Photos of Parker show up on the big screen. Parker, shocked, yells out, “What the —?”
The scene cuts to black.
J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson in “Spider-Man.”
The return of J. Jonah Jameson!
None other than J.K. Simmons, who played the same character in the original “Spider-Man” trilogy starring Tobey Maguire, appears at the film’s end.
In the original trilogy, which ran from 2002 until 2007, Jameson plays a newspaperman who is constantly demanding photos of the webslinger. Jameson thinks Spider-Man is a menace and is set on exposing the vigilante in The Daily Bugle.
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Jameson has left the newspaper business behind and is running his own Daily Bugle website.
Jameson has aged accordingly since the last time we’ve seen him on screen; however, his appearance leaves a big question up in the air. Is this the same version of Jameson who we saw in the Tobey Maguire era of “Spider-Man” movies? Probably not.
If you’re familiar with 2018’s “Into the Spider-Verse,” which introduced different versions of Peter Parker living in parallel dimensions, we’re thinking this is simply a different version of Jameson suited for the MCU. We’re here for it.
Peter’s going to be panicking for a little.
What this means for future “Spider-Man” movies: It’s not looking great for Peter at the moment.
Not only does Parker have to juggle a new relationship with his superhero responsibilities, but now he’s probably going to be on the run, at least for a little now that his secret identity is out there.
Any new potential threats to Spidey will likely come after Aunt May, MJ, or anyone else close to Peter. While this may present immediate concern, it shouldn’t be a danger to Parker forever.
We’re not that concerned about Peter’s identity being leaked to the world. Something tells us Parker’s pals Pepper Potts and S.H.I.E.L.D. will be able to swoop in and fix this real quick. We’d be surprised if they’re not able to show that the video footage from Jameson is fake news, at some point, and make it seem as if Peter isn’t really Spidey. This is a minor hiccup for the young Spidey.
Unfortunately, Spidey’s now on Jameson’s radar and you better believe he’s probably going to be asking for more photos of Parker and Spider-Man to get further proof that the two are one and the same.
The second end-credits scene
Nick Fury and Maria Hill go for another car ride similar to the end of “Avengers: Infinity War.”
We open up to Maria Hill and Nick Fury driving around in an Audi, a scene that’s reminiscent to the end of “Infinity War.”
As they’re in the car, Hill shapeshifts back into the Skrull, Soren.
“You gotta tell him, Talos,” Soren says.
Fury shapeshifts back into Soren’s husband, Talos.
“It was fine,” says Talos. “The little boy handled it. We helped.”
“How was I supposed to know that the whole thing was fake? I mean that was all very convincing,” he adds. “This is embarrassing for a shapeshifter.”
Talos decides to call the real Nick Fury.
“Hey, I hope your mission is going well. We gave the glasses to Parker about a week ago, like you said,” Talos tells Fury. “Shortly after that, everything kind of went off the rails, and so we need you to come back. Everyone kept asking where the Avengers are and I don’t know what to say to that.”
The scene cuts to the real Nick Fury who hangs up on Talos. He’s on a beach with a drink in a coconut. Fury gets up and stretches to reveal that he’s not really on a beach. He’s on a ship with other Skrulls.
“Back to work,” Fury claps. He walks further around the ship barefoot to show that he’s in space.
The scene cuts to black.
Talos was introduced in “Captain Marvel.”
Who are those green aliens?
If you haven’t seen “Captain Marvel,” you may have been surprised by the reveal of the shapeshifters. Soren and Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) are two friendly skrulls who were first introduced in the March 2019 movie.
A general in the Skrull Empire, Talos’ people were caught in a war with the Kree, who destroyed their home planet. Talos was reunited with his wife, Soren, and his child by the movie’s end.
Where is Nick Fury and what is he up to?
Fury’s been hanging out with the Skrulls since returning from Thanos’ life-altering Snap in “Avengers: Infinity War.” It looks like he’s trying to relax a little bit more after initially vanishing for five years.
That doesn’t mean Fury isn’t still focused on work. We see him on some unidentified Skrull ship alongside a flurry of the green guys. Fury tells everyone to get back to work. What kind of work?
Our best guess is that Fury is probably off looking for more alien life to recruit more superheroes. He’s the one who started the Avengers’ initiative. Now that Captain America and Iron Man are toast, he may need some new heroes to fill their shoes. Space seems like a good place to search.
There’s a little piece of evidence to support this. Captain Marvel tells Black Widow early in “Avengers: Endgame” that she can’t be back on Earth because she’s busy on other planets. Thanos’ Snap affected life throughout the universe and Carol Danvers looked like she was checking in on a lot of different people. We wouldn’t be surprised if Fury was going to meet Danvers on one of these planets that needed her help or if he’s looking into beings on another one of the worlds.
Peter Parker’s been to space, but he may not be ready for what’s next in the MCU.
What does this mean for the next phase of Marvel movies? Prepare to get more celestial
“Spider-Man: Far From Home” closes out the third phase of the MCU. After more than 20 movies, where are we heading next?
The sight of Fury in space has us thinking about the future lineup of Marvel movies and most of them are reportedly pretty cosmic. Of Disney’s upcoming movie slate, there are eight untitled Marvel movies. Among the movies Marvel is currently working on are “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” and “The Eternals,” two movies which deal with space and cosmic beings.
While James Gunn is returning to direct the third “GOTG” movie, we’re more interested in the latter film. Marvel Studios’ president Kevin Feige previously told TheWrap the film was in development. Ma Dong-seok (“Train to Busan”), Richard Madden (“Game of Thrones”), and Kumail Nanjiani (“Silicon Valley”) are reportedly among the cast, with Angelina Jolie in talks to join. We could easily see Fury hearing about these characters and jetting off to find them.
Jack Kirby created the Eternals in 1976.
Perhaps the answer is simpler. The end of “Far From Home” could simply be teasing the next “Captain Marvel” and filling us in on what Carol Danvers has been up to since the ’90s and since Fury vanished at the end of “Infinity War.”
Hopefully, we’ll only have to wait for San Diego Comic-Con in a few short weeks to potentially hear more about the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe films.
This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.
Although we’re not always keen to admit it, the way we see the world and how we function in it tends to be largely informed by the pop-culture we consume along the way. The movies and TV shows we watch as kids not only help us to perceive a world beyond our views out the window, they have a habit of planting the seeds of foolish thought in our brains Inception-style; leaving us with a skewed idea of things like what really goes on in a fight, thanks to how often we see them depicted inaccurately on screen.
In fact, if you’ve never had the misfortune of suffering a nasty injury on one of your limbs, getting knocked out, or being in close proximity to an explosion, you might be harboring some pretty unrealistic ideas about just how deadly each can be. It might sound silly to suggest that people can’t tell the difference between something Wolverine can do and something your average Joe can… but many of these movie tropes have become such deep-rooted parts of our cultural lexicon that it starts to get difficult to discern truth from fiction. That is, unless you’ve been there first hand.
This is actually how Chuck Norris babysits people’s kids.
Being knocked out is totally fine
It’s Batman’s bread and butter, it helped Marty McFly’s mom gets handsy with her time traveling son, and it’s the most common workplace hazard for henchman and thugs, but the truth is, getting knocked out could seriously mess you up.
Movies may make it seem like getting knocked out with a single blow is basically the same thing as racking out for an impromptu nap, but here in the real world, blunt force trauma to the head tends to come with some serious repercussions. The Riddler’s henchman may come to in a few hours and complain of feeling groggy, but if you’re ever knocked out for hours, you’ll almost certainly wake up in the ICU of your local hospital, surrounded by some very concerned family members (and hopefully you’ll still know your name).
Head trauma that’s sufficient to knock you unconscious actually creates a neurochemical reaction in the brain that causes cell death that can potentially affect you for the rest of your life.
Fire is apparently the only dangerous part of explosions
Watching a protagonist walk toward the camera while a slow-motion explosion unfolds in the background might be one of the most overused (and somehow still rad) shots in cinematic history… but it’s also totally ridiculous. Movies treat explosions like it’s the fireball you have to be worried about, but the most dangerous part of an explosion is usually invisible to the naked eye: the shockwave.
Way back in the first “Mission Impossible” movie, Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt actually managed to seemingly ride the shockwave of an exploding helicopter (that was foolishly made out of dynamite, apparently) onto a speeding train. The shot is incredible, and it actually makes the superhero-like sequels make a lot more sense, since Ethan Hunt must actually be dreaming in a coma from that point on, while surgeons try to do something about the soup that used to be his organs.
Anyone that’s ever thrown a grenade can tell you that explosions are far faster and more dangerous than they’re depicted in movies. Most happen so quickly that we perceive them as little more than a thunderous impact and sudden poof of smoke, but it’s the shockwave that will literally liquify your inside parts (like your brain). In the medical community, they call this internal mushification “total body disruption,” which may not sound as cool as “internal mushification” but is apparently just as deadly.
I mean, the bleeding has already stopped. This guy might actually make it if he quits now.
Flesh wounds are no big deal
There’s no faster way to show us how badass a movie hero really is than to watch him dismiss a gunshot to the arm as “nothing but a flesh wound.” John Mcclane loses enough blood in the “Die Hard” movies to keep the Red Cross from chasing down donations for at least a year, but somehow those injuries never seem to slow him down at all.
These “flesh wounds” usually exist only so the female lead’s character arc can develop from annoyed at the hero to empathetic: “You’re hurt!” She exclaims as she runs to check the flap of skin hanging off of our hero’s tricep.
“It’s nothing,” he grimaces as he loads another seemingly infinite magazine into his weapon. As Jesse Ventura said in “Predator,” and probably at least once as Governor of Minnesota, “I ain’t got time to bleed.”
The problem is, you can absolutely die from a wound on your arm or leg. In fact, you can die pretty damn quickly if you rupture an artery. When it comes to unchecked bleeding, what you really don’t have time for is ignoring it.
Arts In The Armed Forcers (AITAF) is a non-profit organization started by actors Adam Driver (who’s a Marine vet) and Joanne Tucker to bring thought-provoking and impactful contemporary theater to the U.S. military.
“We’re hoping to show that language is a powerful tool, that self-expression is a powerful tool — it’s just as valuable as any rifle you carry or any tool you can put in your pack,” said Marine Corps veteran-turned-actor Adam Driver (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) while introducing a military audience to a performance.
In this VICE News video, Driver and his fellow actors (including Joanne Tucker, Natasha Lyonne, Eric Bogosian, Peter Scolari, Sasheer Zamata, and many more) are followed to bases across the country, and overseas as they perform for military audiences. He also explains his motivation and reasons for giving back to the military community.
Watch this short four-minute video for a quick synopsis:
Or, if you have time, watch the entire 30-minute video:
One of the most important rules of screenwriting is: never make your characters more dumb than your audience. It’s frustrating to watch characters make mistakes with very obvious and inevitable consequences.
Between that and the ominous title of this episode (The Tragedy), know that you’ve been warned: spoilers ahead.
Din Djarin and Grogu the Yoda Baby arrive on Tython, an ancient Jedi location, where Djarin’s little ward is placed upon the seeing stone to make a phone call. A Force-barrier then arises around him as he enters a deep state of adorable meditation.
Up in the skies, however, an old menace appears: the Slave I — Boba Fett’s Firespray-31 ship. We’ve known since Season 1 Episode 5 that Temuera Morrison would be playing the iconic bounty hunter; he also played the role of Jango Fett in the prequels, and as Boba was Jango’s clone/son, Morrison is a perfect casting choice. Fett returns with Ming-Na Wen’s Fennec Shand with a reasonable request: they want Fett’s beskar armor that Djarin recovered from The Marshal.
The Mandalorian, Disney+
Djarin was like, “No way, bro — that armor is for Mandalorians only,” and Fett was like, “Lemme explain, just take off your jet pack,” and Djarin was like, “Okay I’ll just put it down here and then I won’t f***ing pick it up again EVEN THOUGH I AM OBVIOUSLY GOING TO NEED IT SINCE I LEFT MY BABY ON THAT HILL UP THERE.”
To no one’s surprise, Moff Gideon and his Stormtroopers show up, which gives us a nice the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend situation. Djarin, Fett, and Shand team up to take on the Stormtrooper assault — which does have some fun fighting sequences for Shand and some rather violent melee for Fett — but then we experience the first of our losses.
Everyone has their own opinion of what makes a good war movie. Unfortunately very few can offer anything of substance.
Yes, I’m talking to you, orange grime Cheeto finger-licking video game player in your momma’s basement. You can kick my ass in Call of Duty but in real life, you’d pee your pants in a kill house live-fire training mission.
So lick the cheese off your fingers and take notes, some man stuff coming at you.
Below is my small contribution to the best war movies of all time. I carefully selected my 10 favorites and put them in no particular order other than my #1 of all time, The Great Escape, at the top.
After serving in the SEAL Teams I find it really hard to sit through most action movies without being overly critical of the tactics. For me sitting through a bad action movie is pure torture. Worse than the Notebook. Worse than ingernails on a chalkboard. And like my old chief would say, fucked up as a football bat.
Top War Movie Pet Peeves
Sweeping your own guys with a loaded weapon. Just not cool, and a punishable offense in the SEAL Teams. Find a loud mouth Special Ops guys on social media and chances are he’s not really Special Ops, or worse, was kicked out of the community for a safety violation like this.
Representing the military as unprofessional. Some of the most professional people I’ve met in my life are from the military and it’s crazy to see that scene in American Sniper where the instructors are yelling at students on the firing line like boot camp kids. Not realistic, and doesn’t represent the high level of professionalism at the SEAL sniper program.
Unlimited bullets. Just doesn’t happen outside of video games folks. That ten-round magazine doesn’t last forever, Johnny.
Bad unit tactics. Take your pick… oh yeah, on Zero Dark Thirty the producers had the guys talking on target… not going to happen that way! It’s a squeeze on the shoulder or a hushed communication via inter-squad radio. Just corny…
Poor mission planning. Parachuting onto the roof of a target for example. Not going to happen unless you’re Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible.
The list goes on but you get the idea.
Here’s my top 10.
The Great Escape (1963) Official Trailer – Steve McQueen Movie
If you can get past Charlie Sheen (he hadn’t lost his mind in ’86) this is a great gritty movie about Vietnam. The same kind of movie you can expect to see rebooted with our modern-day Vietnam of Afghanistan. Drugs, stealing cash off-target, war crimes, hookers, this one has it all. I actually wrote a one-page pitch for a similar war movie called, The Reservation, about guys going haywire in Afghanistan post-2004 when it turned into a complete shit show. Stay tuned…
? PREDATOR (1987) | Full Movie Trailer in Full HD | 1080p
Just look at who’s in the movie and enough said. Ex-Special Ops taking on an alien inter-planetary hunter-kill? Fuck me, I’m in! “Head to the chaupper!” Move over Parasite…Que, the Academy award for manliest movie of the year, Predator.
Black Hawk Down (2001) Official Trailer 1 – Ewan McGregor Movie
Based on true events. Great movie but like most great war movies, when you peel it back, usually you find the guys on the ground totally let down by the guys at the top. This time, the name rhymes with “Bill Clinton”… Left our boys hanging in the breeze to fend for themselves in another half-baked country intervention. Fortunately for Delta and the Rangers they did an extremely good job at it while Bill was getting a his daily brief from a White House intern. Epic movie, but I was triggered for sure.
You may ask yourself why a sniper picked this one. Well, before I was a sniper I was an anti-submarine warfare operator and search and rescue swimmer helicopter aircrewman. (Have they now changed it to aircrew person? What the hell is the politically correct version of it? I wrote about this in The Red Circle.) So before I was born again hard in SEAL Training, I geeked out on Russian submarine profiles and harmonic sounds generated by diesel-electric subs. This is a great movie by one of the best military fiction writers ever, Clancy.
Want to know why you shouldn’t ask your military buddy, “How many kills you have bro?” Watch Deer Hunter and then STFU. Great movie. Gives a new meaning to Russian Roulette as well. Look at the cast as well, All Star!
Dirty Dozen (1967) Official Trailer – Lee Marvin, John Cassavetes World War 2 Movie HD
Back when it was ok for men to be men and pronouns weren’t weaponized by the hipster elite. The Dirty Dozen. What’s not to like about Americans kicking Nazi ass?! Plus, take a bunch of guys from the brig and put them on a special ops suicide mission and you have the makings of a great war movie. A lot of great actors in this one as well — A list for sure.
SAVING PRIVATE RYAN Official Trailer (1998) Tom Hanks HD Movie | TrueMovies Trailer
The epic and ultra-realistic D-Day scene won me over from the get-go. Plus some good sniper footage as well. Again, common theme here with allied forces kicking Hitler ass. Doom on you Nazi bastards. Great directing and great acting all around. It kicked off the amazing series, “Band of Brothers” (also a must-watch).
The Hurt Locker (2008) Official Trailer – Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie Movie HD
Jeremy Renner comes out swinging in this gritty movie that showcases the true toll of war. I have several friends who I lost to similar combat addictions. It’s a real thing and one of the reasons I really liked this movie, because it shows the toll it takes at home.
There you have it. I’d also like to hear from you. What are your top 10? Thanks for listening. Out here. – Brandon
It’s the classic battle between masters of the martial arts.
Snipers embody the best of stealth, reconnaissance and camouflage and are at the top of their game when it come to dispatching targets with precision from a great distance.
“One shot, one kill” is no joke.
And when it comes to the best way to combat an enemy sniper, there’s no better weapon than a good guy sniper.
But what happens when the bad guy turns the tables and the good guy becomes the hunted? That’s exactly what happens in the new film from Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions titled “The Wall.”
Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson and WWE superstar John Cena, “The Wall” depicts a sneak attack on a U.S. sniper team in Iraq by a diabolical enemy sharpshooter called “Juba,” played by Laith Nakli. The movie explores the psychological jiujitsu from each side as they try to outmaneuver one another in a battle where moving an inch in the wrong direction could mean certain death.
The enemy sniper from “The Wall” is loosely based on the infamous insurgent sharpshooter with the Juba nom de guerre in Iraq. The real Juba was reportedly killed by ISIS in 2013.
Canadian filmmaker Paul Gross was never a soldier, but he has great respect for them. He comes from a military family; his grandfather and his father both served. Gross ended up in the arts, but he believes that soldiers represent their countries with an enormous amount of dignity and honor and they should be acknowledged for that.
“A soldier signed a piece of paper at one point, saying ‘I am willing to die for my country,'” Gross says. “That’s an extraordinary fucking thing. Did you ever sign such a piece of paper? I know I sure as shit didn’t.”
Gross wrote, directed, and stars in Hyena Road, a film about a Canadian Forces effort to build a road into the heart of enemy-held territory in Afghanistan. Gross plays Pete Mitchell, a sage intelligence officer responsible for convincing the local warlords to stop planting improvised explosive devices along the construction path .
“My character is loosely based on this real officer who was my guide,” Gross says. “Through this intelligence guy I started to learn stuff about Afghanistan. Not just the combat, I started to learn about Afghans.”
Mitchell needs to understand Afghan culture as he tries to bring a mysterious former Mujahid known as “the Ghost” to his side of the fight. The Ghost, played by Niamatullah Arghandabi, is a local Afghan elder who has a hidden identity as a legendary warlord who disappeared after the Russians withdrew.
Gross made two trips to Afghanistan to visit the Canadian Forces fighting there. The second time, he decided to film everything he could. He didn’t have a story at the time. A lot of that footage wound up in the final cut of Hyena Road. He talked to a lot of soldiers and took a lot of notes. When he returned to Ontario, he wrote a screenplay.
“Everything in the movie is pretty much based on stuff that I either heard or witnessed or was sort of common knowledge,” Gross says. “In other words, I didn’t make up anything.”
The film also features a very non-traditional actor in Arghandabi. He now serves an advisor to the Afghan government, and in 1979 he was a mujahid during the Soviet invasion.
“Since he was a kid, he was fighting Soviets,” the director says. “When he was 16, he was living in a cave coming out with Stinger missiles to knock down helicopters. I dragged him out and made him an actor.”
The director met the Arghandabi at Kandahar Airfield while on a visit there in 2011.
“I sat down with this guy and talked with him through an interpreter for about two and a half hours,” Gross recalls “I thought to myself, ‘I could spend the rest of my life with this guy and I would not understand one thing about him.’ That’s how different our cultures are.”
‘The Ghost’ told Gross of the time he met Osama bin Laden. To him Bin Laden wasn’t a fighter; he was a “clown.”
“It’s the weirdest thing,”Gross remembers of Arghandabi. “Talking to these people who knew all these bad guys. Bin Laden was one of the baddest guys we ever thought of, and [Arghandabi] thought he was a clown.”
Gross wants people to walk away from the film entertained, but also better informed because in his opinion, everyone should understand what it is they’re asking their military forces to do.
“That doesn’t mean you have to be against war,” Gross says. “It’s just that most of us wander around with blinders on. We should know what our neighbors, our cousins, our friends are doing there because we’re the one sending them there.”
Hyena Road is in theaters and on iTunes on March 11th.
If you’re a parent, you probably know exactly where your child is and if they are strong with the Force. But for Rey, the questions of where her parents are and who they are remain, after two Star Wars movies, a giant mystery. Chris Terrio, screenwriter of “The Rise of Skywalker,” says important information about Rey’s parents will be revealed in the next big Star Wars film. In fact, he says two questions will be addressed. Will we be happy with the answers? Maybe not! But, that’s not what counts right now.
On Oct. 2, 2019, a new excerpt from an Empire magazine story revealed that J.J. Abrams’s screenwriting partner, Chris Terrio, says there are two big questions that will be answered in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” And those questions are:
“Who is Rey?”
“How strong is the Force?”
In terms of the first question, Terrio made it clear that this question is literal as well as philosophical.
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker | D23 Special Look
“‘Who is Rey?’…is a question that people not only wonder about quite literally but wonder about in the spiritual sense,” Terrio told Empire. “How can Rey become the spiritual heir to the Jedi? We kept coming back to, ‘Who is Rey?’ and how can we give the most satisfying answer to that not only factually — because obviously, people are interested in whether there’s more to Rey’s story — but more importantly, who is she as a character? How will she find the courage and will and inner strength and power to carry on what she’s inherited?”
In regards to the other question — “How strong is the Force?” — Terrio says that “It sounds a little simple, but actually, when you get down to it, that is a sort of Zen Koan that we would really meditate on.”
Right now, it’s totally unclear what Terrio means by this, but if you’re placing bets on the answer to “How strong is the Force?” is simply: “about as strong as my toddler when they are resisting bedtime” you’re either very wrong or very right.
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is out everywhere on Dec. 20, 2019.
This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.