OK, Clever Girls- I’m hoping you’ve had some time to work through the action, comedy and sports films- or at least had the opportunity to dazzle your Clever Guys with some suggestions. As a tribute to what I consider the greatest TV show ever and one of the coolest characters created (“24” – Jack Bauer), we move into some really nasty territory- the genre almost as excruciating for most women as sports: war/military films.
“*” indicates non-negotiable films in this genre.
“**” indicates films non-negotiable film if you have a military or ex-military man in your life.
Let Us Begin
** “24” (A stunning series- available from seasons one through eight at a rental store. I can’t recommend it highly enough)
** “Behind Enemy Lines” (Mentioned in the action films section- it is both military and action. Fantastic performances by Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman)
** “Platoon’ (Berenger, Dafoe and Sheen, and the moral crisis of war and combat)
“A Few Good Men” (Cruise, Nicholson, Moore, Keifer, Bacon and Pollack)
** “Full Metal Jacket” (The quintessential Marine movie)
** “Saving Private Ryan” (Just add Tom Hanks. Barry Pepper is nice to look at)
** “Flags of Our Fathers” (If for nothing but the historic value, it’s a must see)
“Black Hawk Down” (based on the true story of a mission in Somalia)
“Pearl Harbor” (Hartnett and Affleck star in this love story, though, they’re not the couple in question)
* “Shindler’s List” (This one is heavy)
“Band of Brothers” (This is a series- I believe from HBO- excellent)
Most men will watch a movie they have seen 100 times, and 100 times more if it means they don’t have to watch “Runaway Bride,” “Pretty Woman”or “Miss Congeniality.” Once you establish you can be trusted to bring home an amusing movie and that you are flexible at the box office, he might agree to see the occasional chick flick. Otherwise, see them with the girls. That is what they are for.
I cannot tell you how valuable seeing “Saving Private Ryan” was for me. I have several men in my life who took part in the Korean War or Gulf War, or who spent time in Afghanistan. If nothing else, I’m more understanding and compassionate toward and fascinated by those who have served our country.
Until seeing this film- I took my Dad’s reticence about his time in Korea as part of his usual reticence. When I saw the movie- I realized vividly I’ve lived my life in a vacuum. I’d never faced one moment of true hardship or experienced patriotism. The movie is tough to take whether or not you know anyone who served or is serving in the military. It shows you unequivocally what our country asked of it’s soldiers. When I left- I drove straight home and wrote my dad a long letter telling him how thankful I was for him as a man and soldier and that I felt honored to be his daughter.
I apologized for never asking about his time in the military- not realizing the danger he and other young men had faced in the name of preserving the freedom and safety of future generations. I hadn’t even been born when he served time. He was just a kid- what if he hadn’t lived? I can guarantee the world would have been denied a great man. Since reading and watching “Flags of Our Fathers,” I’ve gently opened up some dialogue about his time in the military and have been stunned by the emotion he displays speaking about it.
Late in life I’ve learned things about a man of whom I’ve grown up in the image- it was shocking the burdens he’s carried alone. Now I know why men sit around and tell “war stories”- because the only people who can truly understand the abject horror of what they not only lived through but what they were exposed to are one another.
Ladies- do not deny men this valuable time or diminish it in anyway. I’m not sure what the military ratio is male to female- but I’m pretty sure most women in this country will never know (God willing) the reality of combat- hand to hand or otherwise.
Another thing I learned after viewing these movies is that I might have judged harshly someone to whom I once was very close. He went to Marine boot camp and emerged after four years an entirely different man. My affection for the young man who went into the Marines made the man who came out impossible for me to reconcile. It’s So Very NOT Clever to judge someone without walking in their shoes. Hell, it’s So Very NOT Clever to judge at all. Fact is, I’ve never strapped on combat boots and gone through the most grueling physical and mental training to which one can be subjected- so who am I to judge how that “should” affect you?
These movies have historical and practical significance. They shed light. Don’t stay in the dark- it’s So Very NOT Clever- or safe. Copy that. Over and OUT.