America At A Crossroads: Operation Homecoming: Writing The Wartime Experience - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

America At A Crossroads: Operation Homecoming: Writing The Wartime Experience Reviews

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February 25, 2011
I really liked the soldiers stories. This was well put together. Watch it.
½ February 5, 2008
This is the second film of Oscarpalooza (well, leaving aside those movies I saw before nominations), and it's the first of the documentaries. It was originally made for PBS but got a brief theatrical release about a year ago first, presumably [i]because[/i] they wanted the Oscar consideration, and a film first aired on TV is ineligible. (Though I believe it has happened at least once in the past because of those occasional screw-ups resulting from the fact that no one really understands the Oscar rules.) There are certain stylistic decisions that stem from its public television origins; like most documentaries not done by Michael Moore, it had an astonishingly low budget, despite having more than a few big-name stars doing some of the voiceovers--Robert Duvall being but one prominent example.

This is the first war to have ordinary soldiers be the best reporters, due to the blogging phenomenon. It's said, in fact, that the only way to get a clear picture of what's going on is to read soldiers' blogs. In fact, this trend has been encouraged, and that's what Operation Homecoming--both the operation and the movie--is about. These people have been connected with famous writers, though I'm not sure exactly what those writers have done, and they've been helped in some way to write down their experiences. [i]Operation Homecoming[/i] is part of the results. This film is a series of vignettes showing various people's personal experiences both in war zones and on the home front. Each vignette has a different style, presumably because each person has a different experience.

I can only imagine that they've chosen the best of the writers they encountered, because these are astonishingly well-told stories. The first one is gut-wrenching; the last one is poignant. The ones in between are funny or horrifying in turns, perhaps even both in places. One guy writes about the actual conditions these people are under--the sand, the lack of privacy, the lack of space. One writes about watching a young Iraqi man die. One writes about the American dead. These are, again, deeply personal stories, and it's by adding them together that we start to get a picture of what things are really like over there.

I've never been a fan of this war, though I very carefully avoid going on about it unless it's relevant. I'm thinking about giving you a tirade about the writers' strike (I support the writers, thank you) later in the week, but I would not likewise subject you to a tirade about the war itself. My place in it? Yeah, I've done that once or twice. But I avoid the politics. Still, I find it [i]shocking[/i] that in an age with more news coverage than any other, the networks and the news channels aren't all over these stories, these men. Without the Oscar nomination, I wouldn't have even heard of this until I got to "O," and we all know how far away that is.

These are stories that people need to hear. As my regular readers (all beloved six of you) will attest, I didn't watch war movies while Graham was gone after a certain point, and even for Oscarpalooza, I'm not sure I would have made this an exception. Heck, I didn't even watch [i]the news[/i] unless someone (blessed Gwen) had vetted it for me first in order to assure me that there was nothing terrible that I would discover first on the news. (Since I'm not legally anything to Graham, the news would have had to have gotten to me from his family, and I can't say how quickly that would have happened were his mother grief-stricken.) The only thing I was allowed to watch on my own was [i]The Daily Show[/i]. However, not everyone has my excuse; it's a combination of personal significance and unstable mental state. What's yours?
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