Films on Violence

See also: FILMS ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

Bowling for Columbine

Documentary 2002 R 119 minutes. Famed filmmaker and left-wing political humorist Michael Moore tackles America’s obsession with firearms that results in violence and murders in this Oscar-winning documentary centered on the Columbine High School massacre of 1999. I was anticipating a shallow film on gun control, a topic with which I have no vested interest. On the contrary, Michael Moore does not deal so much with guns or gun violence, as to possible causes for the apparent ‘culture of violence’ in America. This documentary raises many interesting and thought provoking questions. It does seem to provide one possible answer: ‘fear’.

Fargo

1996 R 98 minutes.  Police chief Marge Gunderson — a serious sleuth who’s sharper than her folksy accent suggests — is hot on the trail of a Minneapolis car dealer conspiring with two kidnappers to snatch his wife so he can pocket part of the hefty ransom.

Pulp Fiction

Thriller 1994 R 154 minutes.  Weaving together three stories featuring a burger-loving hit man, his philosophical partner and a washed-up boxer, Quentin Tarantino influenced a generation of filmmakers with this crime caper’s stylized, over-the-top violence and dark comic spirit.

Goodfellas

Docudrama 1990 R 145 minutes.  Director Martin Scorsese’s gripping gangster opus recounts three decades in the life of real-world mobster Henry Hill, who dreamed of becoming a big-time wise guy but landed in the Witness Protection Program instead.

Taxi Driver

Drama 1976 R 114 minutes.  After a cute political campaign worker spurns him, an unhinged New York City cabbie decides to assassinate her candidate. Meanwhile, he tries to protect a child prostitute from a smooth-talking pimp in this gripping tale of urban decay and insanity.

The Godfather

Drama 1972 R 177 minutes.  When organized-crime family patriarch Vito Corleone barely survives an attempt on his life, his youngest son steps in to take care of the would-be killers, launching a campaign of bloody revenge in this Oscar-winning epic.

The Godfather:  Part II

Drama 1974 R 202 minutes.  The Corleone family roots are explored, tracing Don Vito’s journey from Sicily to a life of organized crime in New York. In a parallel story, his grown son Michael extends operations to Cuba and contends with more betrayal and murder.

A Clockwork Orange

Sci-Fi 1971 R 137 minutes.  Against a bleak futuristic landscape, young sociopath Alex DeLarge spends his time stealing, raping and beating innocent people in nihilistic orgies of violence, all in an attempt to get his nightly kicks.

The Wild Bunch

Drama 1969 R 145 minutes.  Director Sam Peckinpah’s brilliant 1969 Western epic tells the story of a bunch of aging outlaws, led by Pike Bishop (William Holden), whose botched plans to pull off one last job forces them to collude with a crooked Mexican general (Emilio Fernández) — leading to ugly bloodshed. Ernest Borgnine, Ben Johnson and Jaime Sánchez co-star in this special edition, which includes never-before-seen outtakes and three exclusive documentaries.

The Ox-Bow Incident

Drama 1943 NR 75 minutes.  Director William A. Wellman’s Western about justice digs into the mob-led lynching of three innocent men. The film centers on cowboys Carter (Henry Fonda) and Croft (Harry Morgan), who reluctantly join a hunt for murderous cattle rustlers. Led by ex-soldier Tetley (Frank Conroy), the posse captures three transients (Dana Andrews, Anthony Quinn and Francis Ford). When Tetley calls for their execution without proof of their guilt, Carter faces a moral dilemma.  The additional features include commentary by the director’s son and a historian who explain how this dark Western was ahead of its time by going beyond stereotypes in dealing with the serious issue of justice.

VIOLENCE AND THE MILITARY

Why We Fight

Documentary 2005 PG-13 98 minutes. Filmed during the Iraq War, Eugene Jarecki’s Sundance Grand Jury Award-winning documentary dissects America’s military machine with a keen eye to answering a necessary question: Why do we engage in war? Through personal stories of soldiers, government officials, scholars, journalists and innocent victims, the film examines the political and economic interests and ideological factors, past and present, behind American militarism. This was the best political documentry (and I’ve seen just about all of them) I’ve ever seen hands down The film is enlightening and tells a great story, filled with facts coming straight from the source (ex-CIA & Pentagon people, executives at US bomb factories, etc), without any sort of conspiracy-theory-esque or political slant. See Full Review

War Made Easy

Documentary 2007 NR 73 minutes. Based on Norman Solomon’s revealing book and narrated by actor Sean Penn, this documentary exposes the government’s and the media’s purported history of deceiving the American people and leading the nation into war after war. Using archival footage of past presidents and media correspondents — including the revered Walter Cronkite — the film sheds light on propaganda and draws parallels between the Vietnam and Iraq wars. See Full Review

The Deer Hunter

Drama 1978 R 183 minutes. In this Oscar-winning epic from director Michael Cimino, a group of working-class friends decides to enlist in the Army during the Vietnam War and finds it to be hellish chaos — not the noble venture they imagined. Before they left, Steven (John Savage) married his pregnant girlfriend — and Michael (Robert De Niro) and Nick (Christopher Walken) were in love with the same woman (Meryl Streep). But all three are different men upon their return.

See also: FILMS ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

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