April Books and Movies

12 Military Movies To See in 2022

Article 99: (1992) This movie is pure magnificence. It is an American comedy-drama film that stars Kiefer Sutherland, Ray Liotta, Forest Whitaker, John C. McGinley, Rutanya Alda and Lea Thompson. The film's title supposedly refers to a legal loophole, which states that unless an illness/injury is related to military service, a veteran is not eligible for VA hospital benefits.It's about an old-timer vet who's a farmer nowadays, but has to have a surgical heart procedure, so he goes for the first time to his local VA health clinic. As I'm sure you can imagine, what he's expecting vs. the reality of what he gets is just downright glorious.

Medal of Honor:  (2021) Here is a new series on Netflix that looks quite good. Honoring service members whose courage merited the awarding of a Medal of Honor, this docudrama series re-creates their inspiring true stories. Here

Taxi Driver (1976) This unsettling, unforgettable snapshot of urban decay and toxic masculinity from Martin Scorsese hauntingly captured the rotting core of post-Watergate American society when it was released, and it has remained nestled in our collective unconscious ever since. Robert De Niro crafted one of his most indelible performances as Travis Bickle, the haunted Vietnam vet who drives New York City at night like a coiled snake ready to strike. One critic said, “One of the most compelling portraits of a lunatic personality ever seen on film.”

Don’t Look Up! (On Netflix) Here ​​Director Adam McKay's latest outing is a biting satire with its crosshairs clearly aimed at politicians and the larger society who are apathetic of the looming climate crisis facing the world. Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo Di Caprio star as a pair of scientists who discover a rogue comet, headed towards the Earth, triggering what they estimate to be an extinction level event. The comet and the crisis surrounding it are used as an effective metaphor by McKay to critique everything from modern society’s obsession with pop culture, how technology controls us rather than the other way around and also takes aim even at media and news channels and how they sensationalize even the most trivial of stories. By the end of the movie, you as a viewer are left wondering if this is the true state of affairs in the country regarded as the leading light of the Western World. 

Death to 2021 Here is a 2021 mockumentary produced by Netflix. A sequel to Death to 2020, the special features a series of fictional characters discussing US news in 2021, including the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine misinformation and Big Tech.

Apocalypse Now (1979) Francis Ford Coppola’s loose, Vietnam-era adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” is so singular and powerful — an awe-inspiring fusion of ’60s psychedelic film, ’70s genre reimagining and classic wide-screen epic, that its ambition is even more striking in this extended “Redux” cut from 2001. One critic called it “a stunning work.”

Da 5 Bloods (2020) Spike Lee’s latest is a genre-hopping combination of war movie, protest film, political thriller, character drama and graduate-level history course in which four African-American Vietnam vets go back to the jungle to dig up the remains of a fallen compatriot — and, while they’re at it, a forgotten cache of stolen war gold. In other hands, it could’ve been a conventional back-to-Nam picture or “Rambo”-style action/adventure (and those elements, to be clear, are thrilling). But Lee goes deeper, packing the film with historical references and subtext, explicitly drawing lines from the civil rights struggle of the period to the protests of our moment. 

Book Recommendations

In this searing memoir, Congressman Jamie Raskin tells the story of the forty-five days at the start of 2021 that permanently changed his life—and his family’s—as he confronted the painful loss of his son to suicide, lived through the violent insurrection in our nation’s Capitol, and led the impeachment effort to hold President Trump accountable for inciting the political violence. 

On December 31, 2020, Tommy Raskin, the only son of Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin, tragically took his own life after a long struggle with depression. Seven days later on January 6, Congressman Raskin returned to Congress to help certify the 2020 Presidential election results, when violent insurrectionists led by right wing extremist groups stormed the U.S. Capitol hoping to hand four more years of power to President Donald Trump. As our reeling nation mourned the deaths of numerous people and lamented the injuries of more than 140 police officers hurt in the attack, Congressman Raskin, a Constitutional law professor, was called upon to put aside his overwhelming grief—both personal and professional—and lead the impeachment effort against President Trump for inciting the violence. Together this nine-member team of House impeachment managers riveted a nation still in anguish, putting on an unprecedented Senate trial that produced the most bipartisan Presidential impeachment vote in American history. 

Through it all, Raskin reckons with the loss of his brilliant, remarkable son, a Harvard Law student whose values and memory continually inspired the Congressman to confront the dark impulses unleashed by Donald Trump. At turns, a moving story of a father coping with his pain and a revealing examination of holding President Trump accountable for the violence he fomented, this book is a vital reminder of the ongoing struggle for the soul of American democracy and the perseverance that our Constitution demands from us all.