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what i watched last week

All Quiet on the Western Front (Lewis Milestone, 1930). When I think of pre-Code films, I picture sex and criminal violence. This is a pre-Code film that ups the ante on the gruesome realities of war, and the result is intense and disturbing, enough so that it still works today as an anti-war piece. Occasionally, you'll get an anti-war movie that valorizes a certain kind of heroism so much that it ends up promoting the very thing it is supposedly against. Not here ... you don't want to be any of these guys, which isn't to say they are unlikable ... but they're dead now. #296 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don't They list of the 1000 Greatest Films of All Time.

African-American Directors Series: Shooter (Antoine Fuqua, 2007). Like a halfway-decent Steven Seagal movie, this action flick has a left-wing conspiracy fan's take on how the world works. Beyond that, not much, although Mark Wahlberg is good, as he usually is.

Taken (Pierre Morel, 2008). Comes in at 93 minutes, which is just right for a mindless action movie. Nonetheless, it's half-an-hour too long. The first 30 minutes sets up the motivation for the action in the last hour, but no one really gives a shit ... we didn't watch Taken for the maudlin sentimentality, we watched it for the action scenes. Which are non-stop, once they start.

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