Post Traumatic Patriots Day


DATELINE:  Boston Under Attack

On occasion, you encounter a movie that is a burden to watch, but you feel utterly compelled to stay the course as your patriotic duty. Such a film is Patriots Day.

We were in our hometown Boston when the horrific Marathon bombing occurred and lived through the four days of wall-to-wall TV coverage in 2013. It seems like living self-torture through post-traumatic stress to watch and relive the movie version produced and starring Mark Wahlberg. As a Bostonian, he wanted to be sure the movie had a Boston perspective.

It does, almost to a point of caricature, with accents flowering and scenes filmed mostly on location. Watertown residents preferred not to relive the mayhem in their backyards, and a different set was used for those climactic scenes of a Wild West shootout with two local residents turned terrorists.

If there is much to admire in this docudrama, police and detective work as well as FBI heroism is top of the list. In a matter of hours, starting from scratch, an entire operation and manhunt was created with tireless work from police, hospital workers, and citizens.

The film probably will best be seen years from now with more perspective on events, like the film Parkland about the Kennedy assassination, made 50 years after it happened. The raw nerves of the Marathon event are too fresh, still, to not feel abused again by what we know as familiar names and places and inevitabilities.

Hollywood fireworks are not missing here: as the shootout with the terrorists is stunning. Performances of J.K. Simmons, John Goodman, and Kevin Bacon, are appropriately underplayed. Red Sox star and local celebrity David Ortiz plays himself.

If any question remains, it is how to handle the people who were most unhelpful: Tamerlane Tsarnaev’s American wife and Dzokhar’s pothead UMass friends. Their reputations should be mud forever, according to this movie. We would say they got off far too easily.

Since this film may be the ultimate history lesson for viewers of the future, it stands as a moment in time, close enough to events, to ensure its accuracy. If we know anything from documentary history, it is that time dilutes, distorts, and changes the perception of the age’s Zeitgeist.

We think this one will pass the test of time.

Tom Brady, Mark Wahlberg and Ted Too


Brady Acts

Supermodel Giselle Brady has been in Brazil during the off-week, making the millions that means Tom really could retire tomorrow if he wanted.

Instead, the New England Patriot graybeard is acting like a young whelp to start his movie career. This week he has announced that he will appear in a movie sequel, produced and starring another local celebrity, Mark Wahlberg.

The film escapes us, but we are told that our natural snobbery is misplaced as opposed to being mislaid. We have seldom mislaid much in life, mostly with concern to our virginity.

Tom Brady won’t make such a mistake when he appears in the sequel to Ted. This movie only seems to follow the premise of a dozen horror movies about a mad, personified object of childhood. No, this lightweight comedy is what passes nowadays as the work of a modern Noel Coward.

The highly reliable IMdB Pro (the expensive private one) has no idea what the plot is, but proudly notes that Liam Neeson, Dennis Haysbert, Michael Dorn, Morgan Freeman, will join Seth MacFarland as writer/director.

It features a cast of cameo actors. Therefore, it really has no plot. It has a series of set-ups for the audience to go from one “Aha!” moment to another.

Tom Brady plays himself dealing with agog fans like Mark Wahlberg who plays himself at Patriot games when he sits in owner Robert Kraft’s private box. For Wahlberg it’s like being asked to join Commodus to watch those lions feast on the latest religious fanatics of Rome.

The first Ted dealt with an adult man whose Teddy Bear has come to life to present a Greek Chorus on his life. We preferred such a device to be a talking horse like Mr. Ed to do this work. We know enough about modern movies to realize that the sequel is not going to rival A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It may not even rival Francis the Talking Mule. But, Tom Brady will not do anything to bring dishonor to his career. It will be watchable.


Movie Day for the New England Patriots



In a move of brilliant desperation, Coach Bill Belichick decided to take his beleaguered New England Patriots to see a holiday movie at a penultimate moment of the season.

No, they are not watching Elf, Miracle on 34th Street, nor A Christmas Carol (which might offer insights into the psychology of their mercurial coach).

Instead, Belichick took his team’s mind off mayhem and NFL assassination attempts by showing them life on the other side: Lone Survivor is about a Navy Seals mission in Afghanistan in 2007.

It was a movie to provide a 21st century rallying cry that rivals Remember the Alamo or Remember Pearl Harbor.

Wags thought he might take them to the ubiquitous Anchorman 2 with Ron Burgundy. There was no Chablis or Zinfandel for these players, let alone Burgundy.

Belichick knows what he does. He is preparing a decimated team for warfare. He is not trying to take their minds of battle, but make them aware of what defines sacrifice and valor.

Mark Wahlberg is a local New Englander who stars and produces the film—and may have hinted to Belichick that this was the pick of the season. It will certainly give Wahlberg’s box office a shot.

A private screening for over 50 Patriots and supporting staff likely did the trick in both resting the physical bodies of debilitated NFL warriors and recharging the spirit of American heroism.

Movies used to do that for all its citizens, whether it was The Sands of Iwo Jima or The Fighting Sullivans. 

Now it is left to the young men who represent the best of America’s economic and social heroism: our football players.  The last real Patriots took in a movie about the last real patriots.