Wednesday was Veterans’ Day, so for this edition of CFI SELECTS, our programmers have chosen films that explore the vast and complex experiences that veterans and service-members face.
SMITH RAFAEL FILM CENTER DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMMING RICHARD PETERSON SELECTS
THE BIG RED ONE: THE RECONSTRUCTION
Director: Samuel Fuller (US 1980)
“American master Samuel Fuller (1912-1997) based his dream project on personal experiences as an infantryman in WWII, but saw his intimate epic extensively shortened before its 1980 release. Reconstructed with 45 minutes of restored footage, this “fuller” Fuller emerges timelier than ever and as one of our finest anti-war movies. The theatrical release is still around, so make sure to watch “The Reconstruction,” which premiered at Cannes in 2004 and that same year was featured at the Mill Valley Film Festival with Christa Fuller and Robert Carradine in attendance. Lee Marvin is terrific as the seasoned sergeant ushering his young squad (including Mark Hamill and Robert Carradine) through North Africa, Sicily, D-Day and the ultimate liberation of the death camps. Hardboiled action is now augmented with more humor and poignancy, and the greater prominence of orphaned children eloquently illustrates Fuller’s belief that the sole glory in war is survival. It’s a vision that could have been rendered only by an artist who lived it, and it’s a film testament appropriate for Veterans Day.” –Richard Peterson
The theatrical release is available to stream, and The Big Red One: The Reconstruction, which premiered at Cannes in 2004 and that same year was featured at the Mill Valley Film Festival with Christa Fuller and Robert Carradine in attendance is available as a special edition DVD.
CALIFORNIA FILM INSTITUTE AND MILL VALLEY FILM FESTIVAL FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR MARK FISHKIN SELECTS
LAST FLAG FLYING
Director: Richard Linklater (US 2017)
A Vietnam vet tracks down two fellow soldiers for a favor: His son has died fighting in Iraq and he needs them to join him on one last mission. This road movie, a sequel to Hal Ashby’s 1973 classic The Last Detail, is an extraordinary look into faith, friendship, and why we fight in the first place. (Logline by David Fear)
“Richard Linklater is a director of a unique style. He’s managed to work with independent films and commercial films, but at the same time keeping an original voice, regardless of what the genre is… We were incredibly honored to have Last Flag Flying as our Centerpiece for our 40th anniversary.” –Mark Fishkin
Click here to watch the MVFF40 Centerpiece Q&A with Richard Linklater, moderated by Steven Gaydos.
MILL VALLEY FILM FESTIVAL PROGRAMMING MANAGER STERLING HEDGPETH SELECTS
Director: Norman Jewison (US 1989)
“Fresh off his enormous success of Die Hard, Bruce Willis made one of his most interesting career choices by playing a haunted Vietnam vet keeping an eye on his niece (Emily Lloyd), whose father died in the war, as she investigates her father’s mysterious past and examines her own limited options living in a small Kentucky town. Directed by Norman Jewison (In the Heat of the Night) and written by Frank Pierson (Dog Day Afternoon), it remains one of Willis’s best films with powerful flashbacks and an excellent supporting cast including Joan Allen, Jim Beaver, and Stephen Tobolowsky. The ending at the Vietnam Veterans memorial in Washington DC (which had just opened earlier that decade) is the most celebrated part of the film but the way it handles PTSD, family dynamics and coming-of-age in the 80s remains deeply sympathetic and deftly constructed. Check out this underrated gem which was also the Opening Night Film at MVFF12.” –Sterling Hedgpeth