We had no idea that former presidential candidate John Kerry offers a movie recommendation service, but a subscriber who's already ponying up the $9.95 monthly fee to receive the Senator's film picks has let us know that he's somewhat predictably followed previous selections of blockbuster eco-thrillers An Inconvenient Truth and the Eleventh Hour with another politically minded feature, the Paul Haggis Iraq war drama In The Valley of Elah. (Would it have killed him to go with Michael Clayton? Clooney could really use the help.) After the jump, the e-mail describing how the writer/director grabbed Kerry's heartstrings with his Oscar-winning heavy hands from the opening scene and wouldn't let go until the final credits stopped rolling:
Hello [name redacted],
I don't write to you that often about films, except when they strike a very special chord and cry out for some special attention (think "An Inconvenient Truth," or Leo DiCaprio's "Eleventh Hour.")
A couple weeks ago, Harry Reid handed me a DVD copy of a film that's hitting theaters now — Paul Haggis' "In the Valley of Elah."
I took it home, watched it, and I think this film crosses that same threshold — because it's gutsy and risky and challenging to bring out a movie during a time of war that captures the tragic but very real effects of war on families, friends, and loved ones when they come home.
But you know, in this war— where we're reminded our troops and their families have been asked to sacrifice so much while the rest of America was asked to "go shopping"— I think that a dose of reality is needed.
In every war, the costs are paid by soldiers and their families, whether they are killed, wounded, or have to live with some of the "invisible wounds" of war that are so hard to heal.
I think it's a healthy thing for every American to watch "In the Valley of Elah" — and think about someone you know and love, or someone you may never meet — someone else's son or daughter, brother or sister— as this film traces the mysterious disappearance of a soldier returning from Iraq, and delves into the searing effect of combat on the soldier, his family, and those who love him.
The former top operating officer at the Pentagon, a Marine Lieutenant General, once said of Iraq that "the commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions —or bury the results."
You can't help but remember those words when you watch this movie. It's not an "anti-war" film; those words are too cheap and easy and clichéd.
No, this is a film about soldiers and families — and a family's search for the truth, and a nation's responsibility to be there for our troops not just when they're sent into battle, but when the boots come off and they come home.
Please watch this movie — because I think if you do, it will give other Directors some hope and some motivation to do what Paul Haggis did and make more movies which confront these issues with the unflinching honesty of "In the Valley of Elah."
To learn more about this important new film, please check out its website at: