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Memorable Movies: A Memorial Day playlist

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Memorial Day weekend: cookouts abound, offices are closed, and heroes are remembered. During this annual holiday we celebrate those who have fought and died for our country. While the summer weather often beckons, what better commemoration of our fallen than an armed forces film fest? Check out the Memorial Day playlist, and comment below with your favorite war flicks:

1. “Full Metal Jacket” (1987)
1. “Full Metal Jacket” (1987) Amazon.com

1. “Full Metal Jacket” (1987)

Renowned director Stanley Kubrick is known for, among other traits, crafting surreal and stylizied films. “Full Metal Jacket,” though one of Kubrick’s best pieces isn’t necessarily one of his best known. Primarily, “Full Metal Jacket” is infamous for having two halves: bootcamp and Vietnam. It’s a classic largely due to the intricate set, a Kubrick staple, and Pvt. Leonard “Gomer Pyle” Lawrence, (Vincent D’Onofrio) who offers a chilling performance.

2. “Patton” (1970)
2. “Patton” (1970) http://www.impawards.com/1970/patton_xlg.html

2. “Patton” (1970)

General George S. Patton’s legacy undoubtedly deserves much credit for the movie’s praise, but George C. Scott’s portrayal of the unconventional general certainly helps. Scott seems to morph into Patton, with his acerbic booming baritone, crew cut, and square jaw. Additionally, “Patton” exhibits the titular character as a flawed human being: he’s vulgar, abusive, and unrelenting, even to his own troops. The combination of complicated protagonist and George C. Scott’s commanding on-screen presence make this a must watch. Notably, Scott also played a general in Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove,” though one quite different than Patton.

3. “Apocalypse Now” (1979)
3. “Apocalypse Now” (1979) http://www.impawards.com/1979/apocalypse_now_ver2_xlg.html

3. “Apocalypse Now” (1979)

Francis Ford Coppola’s sprawling film adapts Joseph Conrad’s  Heart of Darkness into a Vietnam War era piece. “Apocalypse Now” benefits from a strong cast, featuring Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando and Robert Duvall. A very young Laurence Fishburne even appears, along with Harrison Ford in smaller roles. With such talent spanning the cast, it’s no wonder “Apocalypse Now” achieved such universal acclaim. A disparate movie, the final words “The horror, the horror” along with the darkly psychedelic Doors song “The End” resonate long after the movie’s conclusion.

4. “The Bridge On the River Kwai” (1957)
4. “The Bridge On the River Kwai” (1957) http://flickfacts.com/movie/178/the-bridge-on-the-river-kwai

4. “The Bridge On the River Kwai” (1957)

Rarely is a theme song as recognizable as the film from whence it derives, but “The Bridge On the River Kwai” can be boiled down to a mere whistle. Unique is relative lack of actual fighting during the movie. British prisoners of war, led by Lt. Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness), are forced to construct a bridge for a Japanese camp. A partiscularly forceful and unexpected ending contribute to the flick’s classic status, and an earworm-inducing theme song accompanies.

5. “Saving Private Ryan” (1998)
5. “Saving Private Ryan” (1998) http://ok2disconnectportfolio.com/2011/05/05/movie-posters-experiment/

5. “Saving Private Ryan” (1998)

Steven Spielberg’s multi-award winning film features an ensemble cast and one of the most realistic war cinematic portrayals. The opening 27 minutes focuses on the Omaha Beach invasion, and the entire portrait is graphic as well as convincing. Spielberg has churned out his share of great movies, and “Saving Private Ryan” proved he saved some of his best for later in his career. Die-hard history buffs may find fault with slight historical inaccuracies, but it’s unbelievably lifelike.

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