The Words (Movie 2012)

3 Kernels

Staring:  Bradley Cooper, Olivia Wilde, Dennis Quaid, Jeremy Irons
Currently streaming on Amazon Prime is “The Words,” which is a convoluted story tucked within two stories that at times will spin you in circles between reality and fiction.  It’s an oddly done tale about three authors – one who lives, one who is fiction, and another who is in the fiction past.  Have I confused you yet? Well, unless you keep your head on straight, it may take you a while to keep this story straight.
It begins with a reading of a book written by a famous author named Clay Hammond, played by Dennis Quaid. He stands at a podium and reads to a large audience the story which he has written about a man aspiring to be an author.  As he reads it, we are transported into the actual  story played out before us.
Meet the fictional author, Rory Jansen, played by Bradley Cooper.  (I love Bradley Cooper – those eyes…) Anyway (slaps self back to reality), Rory has one dream in life. For three years he painstakingly works on a novel, and for years on end he sends it to agents and publishers and amasses a huge file of rejections. They say he writes well, but there just isn’t a place for his story. (This is why I self-publish. My worth isn’t contingent upon a publishing contract.)
Rory’s girlfriend and eventual wife continues to support his dream, while his father tells him to get a real job and stop dreaming. He eventually gets married, and the loving couple honeymoon in Paris.  While in an antique shop, Rory sees an old leather, folding briefcase that catches his eye. He thinks it will be a great place to stash his writing, and his wife purchases it as a gift.
When they return home, Rory discovers tucked inside an unseen flap a stack of papers. He pulls them out and is surprised to find a book that had been typewritten years ago. When he sits down and reads it, he is astonished at how good the work is and jealous when he realizes that he doesn’t possess the same talent this individual had who penned the story. (Author mistake #1 – never compare yourself to anyone else.)
He doesn’t know why he is compelled to do so, but he retypes it word for word upon his computer changing absolutely nothing. He likes the feel of the words flowing through his mind and fingers, knowing that what he is typing is a masterful piece. Finally, he submits it to a publisher and lands a contract. Immediately, he’s an overnight success, and no one is the wiser that he never wrote one word of the story. Until the original author purchases the book and discovers the story he lost years ago.
Jeremy Irons plays “The Old Man,” whose name we never come to know. He meets Rory in a park, sits down, and tells him the story behind the story which was once his. The audience is now transported back into another time, told like another novel, about the novel that the Old Man wrote after World War II.  What happens between the Old Man and Rory I will not divulge, unless you wish to see the movie yourself.  No spoilers from me.  However, you will learn how and why this tremendous piece of work was birthed and lost, and why the author never wrote again.
I found the movie both interesting, mind-boggling, and slightly confusing at the end, when all of the stories inside the story reverts back to the current story written by Hammond.  Did I lose you somewhere between those words? If I related to anything, however, it is the driving force some people have to write, the gift often given to those who never really thought about writing, and the outcome that all we really want as authors is for the words we pen to touch hearts.  Words are often birthed from our own pain.

American Sniper (Movie 2015)

4 Kernels

Stars: Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller
Today I saw American Sniper. It’s been over four hours since I returned home, and the somber effects of the movie still linger. Not a word was uttered in the entire theater after the film ended — it was total, respectful silence for the story about Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in U.S. history.

Before seeing the movie, I had not read the book or even heard of Chris Kyle.  I think to my own shame, like many others since 911, our lives have gone on with little thought of those serving overseas. If we have not been directly touched by family members in the armed forces who served in Iraq, we probably didn’t think much about it. Sure, we watched the news, saw pictures of caskets with American flags draped over them, but didn’t feel the terror these soldiers endured, the pain their families have suffered, or the sacrifices they made.

American Sniper will bring you face to face with the lives of young men who fought. The story of Chris Kyle is not just about is ability as a marksman and the kills that he made to save the lives of other soldiers. It’s about the turmoil of serving, the danger, dealing with PTSD, and trying to make sense of the war when at times it made no sense at all.

Bradley Cooper’s performance was phenomenal. The man really deserves an Oscar, whether he wins or not. I think that he portrayed Chris Kyle with deep respect and knew the responsibility he held to bring this man’s story to the public. Great job Clint Eastwood, too, for the fine direction.

Though I have read some rather scathing reviews of Chris’ book on Amazon that have painted him less than a saint in real life, I frankly have not let that taint my enjoyment of this movie. It’s not just about this one Navy Seal. The movie is about the sacrifice young men make for our country, who have no qualms in joining one of the branches of the armed forces to serve. It reminds us what it means to protect the freedom we enjoy.

Great flick.