Review: ‘Island Soldier’ Shows Us Difficulty Of Being Micronesian-American Soldier

Island Soldier

Release Date: November 11, 2017

Guest review from Reel Reviews Over Brews

Island Soldier is the untold story of Micronesian citizens fighting America’s wars. Through the personal odyssey of the Nenas, one family experiences the consequences of military service, as they represent a pristine Pacific island on the brink of economic collapse.

Micronesia, a geographically isolated country with minimally developed infrastructure, receives major financial assistance as a US protectorate and as such, these Pacific-Islanders have a right to join the US armed forces to escape a life of poverty in pursuit of the American Dream. However, citizens from the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) mostly serve in the infantry and have had high casualty rates. These soldiers have had a death rate five times higher than any US state, per capita, in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, once veterans from the FSM return home , they do not have access to VA health benefits. FSM vets must pay out of pocket and travel thousands of miles to seek help from the nearest VA facility.

Documentaries are usually hit or miss for us… Island Soldier is one of the hits. Not only is it visually a great movie, but very informative. We learned a lot about Micronesian’s that join the American military. We also learned the unfortunate side effects of not having the same benefits of American born military too. The worst part being there is no VA for these veterans to go to on their island and if they get the chance to go they have to travel hours and spend a lot of their money to get there. The only way to help change that will be for more people to watch this documentary and learn about what is happening. Island Soldier is being released just in time for Veteran’s Day. Let’s help these soldiers and spread the word of this documentary because the more people that watch, the better the chances become of getting these flaws fixed.

Reel Reviews Over Brews would like to take a minute to thank all of the humans and animals who have served, who are currently serving, or who have given their lives serving… THANK YOU!

Reel ROB Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Post Credits Scene: No

We want to thank our friends at Reel News Daily for allowing us to do this guest review for them!

Review: ‘Thank You For Your Service” – Perfect Timing For Veterans Day

Thank You For Your Service

Theatrical Release: October 27, 2017

Guest review from Reel Reviews Over Brews

Thank You for Your Service follows a group of U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq who struggle to integrate back into family and civilian life, while living with the memory of a war that threatens to destroy them long after they’ve left the battlefield.

We want to start by saying, everyone should see Thank You For Your Service. In a time where it seems as though our country is falling apart, this movie shows there are brave men and women that are fighting to hold it together. Not just physically, but mentally too. The struggles these soldiers go through with PTSD when they get home are tough to watch and it brings to life how difficult it is for them to get help. Thank You For Your Service is a real eye opener! Miles Teller seems as though he is in every movie anymore, but his role as Adam Schumann proves why he should be. He absolutely steals the show. We actually can’t get enough of Miles and the fact that he is a local from right outside of Philadelphia helps too. Whether you have family or friends who have served, this is a MUST see movie. It will hit you right in the feels and make you want to thank each and every individual who has served or is currently serving. Thank You For Your Service is being introduced into theaters just in time for Veterans Day.

Reel Reviews Over Brews would like to take a minute to thank all of the humans and animals who have served, who are currently serving, or who have given their lives serving… THANK YOU!

 

*Anyone can experience mental health problems. Friends and family can make all the difference in a person’s recovery process. If a friend or family member is showing signs of a mental health problem or reaching out to you for help, offer support.*

Reel ROB Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Post Credits Scene: No

We want to thank our friends at Reel News Daily for allowing us to do this guest review for them!

FREE Stream of Live Action Short Nominee ‘Helium’ Plus Rent or Buy All the Oscar-Nominated Short Films on Vimeo

helium

“A young boy Alfred is dying, but through the stories about HELIUM – a magical fantasy world, told by the hospital’s eccentric janitor Enzo, Alfred regain the joy and happiness of his life, and finds a safe haven away from daily life.” via IMDb – Watch “Helium” by clicking this link. Read More →

Jeremy’s Review: 2015 Oscar Nominated Shorts – Live Action

US_2015_OSCAR_SHORTS_Web_Poster_1500px_highI’m happy to say that most of the Live-Action shorts are more upbeat than their documentary predecessors. This crop of films come from a variety of countries (Tibet/France, Ireland, Israel, England and Switzerland) and cover a variety of topics. Most of them do a great job of pulling the cinematic equivalent of sleight of hand, leading us down one road only to pull the rug out from under us using our expectations against us. So let’s check them out.

Aya

AYA_stillA quirky little film, Aya grabs an idea that many feature films have explored before – happenstance. As Aya (Sarah Adler) waits for her boyfriend to arrive at the airport, a valet who is waiting for his client has to move his car and asks Aya to hold his sign until he comes back. The client, Mr. Overby (Ulrich Thomsen), arrives before the valet returns. Aya is left with a choice – tell him the truth, that she is just holding the sign for someone else, or actually drive Mr. Overby where he needs to go and see where the trip takes her. She obviously decides on the latter or there would be no movie. What transpires between the two is a back and forth in which each character gains knowledge about the other and perhaps themselves. I really enjoyed this one. While it had some fairly bizarre moments in it, the characters’ arcs were earned rather than forced. Directors Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis brought this one home. This is a film that deserved its nomination.

Boogaloo and Graham

BOOGALOO_AND_GRAHAM_stillFrom the outset of Boogaloo and Graham, you get the sense that something bad is going to happen. The film opens in Belfast in 1971. The camera follows British troops as they creep through an alleyway, residents of the flats that line watching them intently. If you know anything about Irish history, you’ll know that ’71 was a particular rough time during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. When the camera moves over a stone wall and we see a man (Martin McCann) huddled over a box, we expect the worst. We’ve been programmed this way as so many films point to an attack by the IRA or some other Republican paramilitary group on the British soldiers not five feet away. As the camera zooms in on the man, he pulls something from the box and we await the devastation to come…until it doesn’t. I craned my neck as if that would help me see what he held. What was it you ask? Not bombs, but two baby ducks for his sons, Jamesy (Riley Hamilton) and Malachy (Aaron Lynch). What unfolds after this tense moment is the story of how these two boys bond with their chickens, how they integrate them into the family despite the protestations of the boys’ mother (Charlene McKenna). This film is full of trickery on the part of director Michael Lennox, whose camera shots are witty and add great depth to an already fun story, as well as the script by scribe Ronan Blaney, which twists and turns your expectations. I loved this film and I hope the Academy does, too.

Butter Lamp (La lampe au beurre de yak)

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Perhaps the most interesting of the five nominated films, Butter Lamp takes place in Tibet and features a revolving set of groups gathering to have their pictures taken using a variety of different backgrounds the photographers have brought with them in what amounts to an interesting pictorial ethnographic study of the different peoples of the area. Infused with a good bit of humor, writer-director Wei Hu is able to create a story where the is seemingly none. Equipped with the best final shot of all of the films nominated in this category, Butter Lamp is incredibly pleasing and a lot of fun. When thinking about feature length films (80+ minute running times), it would seem hard to be able to tell a coherent story in only 20 minutes like this film. Wei Hu, like the rest of the writers and directors in this category, makes it look easy. The final shot in this film is really incredible. Be on the lookout for it.

 

Parvaneh

PARVANEH_stillSo, here’s where the films start get a little less humorous and venture into darker territory. Frankly, last year’s set were much more dark and even the last two films that are edgier in their material and approach still have their uplifting moments. Parvaneh fits that bill. A young Afghan girl (Nissa Kashani) living and working in Switzerland comes to a crossroads when her father needs money for an operation back home. As an illegal who is underage, she is not allowed to send money without proper ID, which she can’t get for obvious reasons. When she enlists the help of a girl, Emely (Cheryl Graf),  she meets on the street to get the money sent, the story hits a crossroads – will it all work out or will it turn into a Dancer in the Dark-like spiral into crushing depression? Luckily for us, it’s the former. Writer-director Talkhon Hamzavi creates a relatively in depth portrait of immigrant life in a foreign land, something that is commonplace these days with so many people displaced by armed conflicts throughout the world.

 

The Phone Call

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Almost from the outset of Mat Kirkby’s The Phone Call, you can tell that it isn’t going to be a cathartic, uplifting piece that leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy. This film runs you through an entire gauntlet of emotions and it’s easy to see why this film has garnered some serious accolades leading up to the Oscars. Anchored by a truly incredible performance from the always outstanding Sally Hawkins (twice nominate for Oscar) as Heather, a woman who works at a crisis helpline. When she arrives at work, she has trepidation written all over her face. She is skittish, perhaps because of her personality, but perhaps because of the job. Shortly after sitting down, her phone rings. On the other line is a voice, breaking up and crying. After a brief pause, Stan (Oscar-winner Jim Broadbent) begins to tell his story – his wife passed away years ago and he just can’t bear to live any longer without her. He has taken a large dose of pills and doesn’t want to die alone. Heather uses all of the training she’s learned to try and keep him from ending his life, to keep him on the phone until she can find out key information about him so that she can somehow save his life. As their banter continues over the course of the _____ minutes, Heather continues to engage him, learning more about him, his wife and their life together – all things missing from her life. So in her attempts to save Stan’s life, she, in a way, saves her own. This film is gutting and is very tough to watch. It expertly drills into emotional depths that few feature films are able to. Hawkins’ performance is flat out incredible and shows why she is one of the best actresses in the business. Known more for her quirky, funnier roles, Hawkins is absolutely devastating in The Phone Call. I have no doubts that this film will take home the Oscar and it’s hard to argue against it winning. Kudos to Kirkby and his co-writer James Lucas for creating such an emotionally lush and layered film.

 

So there’s the Live Action shorts lowdown. Stay tuned for my reviews of the Animated shorts coming later this week and don’t forget to check here for dates and locations where you can see all of the Oscar nominated shorts.

Jeremy’s Review: Doc ‘The Hornet’s Nest’ Is an Incredibly Intimate Look at the Toll of Combat

hornets nest 01I’m not a fan of war. I think I’m in the vast majority when I say that. Despite the best of intentions, war is ugly and far too often, innocent people die because of it. On top of that, we lose many of our best and brightest. Fighting in the military is a calling to which few answer and it affects those who do for the rest of their lives, some profoundly, others quite the opposite. So when we are allowed a look into this world as people who are so far removed from what is happening on the battlefield (if it’s really even called that any more), it is jarring, harrowing and overwhelming. There have been a glut of films released about US involvement in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq since our incursions in both places dating back to 2001 and 2003 respectively. Some have been pro-military action, others not so much and some have taken no stance but simply told us of the human element involved in the operations. Poignant and incredibly respectful, The Hornet’s Nest is the latter.

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