William Wharton wrote the novels Birdy and A Midnight Clear, both of which inspired highly acclaimed movies, one about Vietnam vets adjusting to life after the war and the other about an American intelligence unit’s encounter with a German platoon at the end of WWII.
Wharton was the pen name of Albert William Du Aime, a WWII vet who died in 2008. Shrapnel, his memoir of his military service, has just been published in English for the first time. +Continue Reading
If you’re a hardcore gamer, the news from this year’s E3 show in LA is awesome: both Microsoft and Sony showed off the new hardware and games for their next-generation consoles: both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 represent significant technological leaps forward for their respective companies.
So everything’s amazing, right? Well, there are a few looming clouds and the week’s presentations threw both the opportunities and the risks for the gaming world into strong relief. +Continue Reading
At this week’s E3 conference in Los Angeles, we talked to Coast Guard veteran Jeromy “Doc” Adams about Extra Life, a video game-based charity he founded and now runs with the Children’s Miracle Network.
With a motto of “Play Games, Heal Kids,” the charity organizes a one-day video gaming marathon that works much like a charity walkathon: you sign up sponsors who make a donation based on how many hours you play during the event. +Continue Reading
There’s a long history of college-educated boys hitting the road in hopes of discovering the real America and Daniel Vaughn & Nicholas McWhirter’s new book fits squarely into that tradition.
In their effort to document the Texas barbecue scene, the two made several trips over the course of a year and averaged over five barbecue meals a day on their journey. By their own count, they spend 35 days, drove 10,343 miles and ate at 186 BBQ joints. +Continue Reading
Reader of the real news section around here know that Pfc. Bradley Manning is on trial for leaking “troves of material” to the anti-secrecy website Wikileaks. Even though Manning pleaded guilty to charges that would send him to prison for twenty years, the military and Obama administration are prosecuting him for aiding the enemy, a charge that could land him life in prison.
That prosecution doesn’t sit well with some people, so a curious collection of celebrities, reporters and other people that no one on the web seems able to identify have come out in support of Manning with a confusing video where they declare “I Am Bradley Manning.” +Continue Reading
After Earth opens this weekend and stars real-life father and son Will and Jaden Smith as a father and son whose spaceship crash lands on Earth a thousand years after man has abandoned the planet. We talked to screenwriter Gary Whitta about the ideas behind the film’s original story and how the real-life military influenced his script. +Continue Reading
Harold Holzer went through the collection of the New-York Historical Society and used what he found inspired him to write The Civil War in 50 Objects. Holzer has written or edited more than forty books on Lincoln and the Civil War era, so he knows as well as anyone how hard it is to bring new perspective to our nation’s most-studied era. +Continue Reading
China Beach has finally gotten a DVD release in an elaborate box set. The 1988–91 ABC TV series examined the Vietnam War from the perspective of women, both those who served and civilians who experienced the war up close. +Continue Reading
J.J. Abrams is having a good year. His new movie Star Trek: Into Darkness opens this weekend and will take over from George Lucas to make a Star Wars sequel that’s due in 2015. Being the guy fixed Star Trek or getting a chance to fix Star Wars would be the life’s dream of any sci-fi kid who grew up in the ‘70s or ‘80s. Being the guy who gets to fix both is something that’s impossible to imagine.
Abrams is using his Hollywood power and profile to support The Mission Continues, an organization founded by former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens. The theory behind the group is that men and women who served their country aren’t given enough opportunities to continue that service after they leave the military. +Continue Reading
Jack Reacher is out today on Blu-ray and DVD. Based on Lee Child’s wildly successful series of novels about a mysterious Army vet who roams the country using his military police skills to right wrongs and beat the hell out of bad guys. The book describe Jack as 6’5″ and around 220 lbs., so a lot of readers were surprised when the movie version cast Tom Cruise (generously listed at 5’7″ on the Internet) to play the role.
Director Christopher McQuarrie (who previously co-wrote the classic The Usual Suspects with director Bryan Singer and directed the underrated The Way of the Gun) made a movie that should win over the doubters. It’s got enough action to appeal to the Jason Statham (or Charles Bronson, depending on your generation) action crowd but adds a level of wit and intelligence most action pictures don’t make the effort to achieve.
One of the director’s secret weapons is his brother, former Navy SEAL Doug McQuarrie, who worked as the weapons technical advisor on Jack Reacher. Doug also advised his brother on The Way of the Gun, so they’ve long had a successful working relationship. This clip from the bonus documentaries describes Doug’s role in making sure the climactic shootout at the rock quarry looks as realistic as possible.
The movie is based on the novel One Shot and really uses its Pittsburgh locations to great effect: the movie is definitely set in western Pennsylvania and the detailed and obvious use of location is a big plus to this movie. (Compare that to the dozens of current movies that use Georgia locations as Anywhere, USA and never use the local character to the movie’s advantage.) Tom Cruise really gets into this role: even if he’s not the Jack Reacher you were looking for, he commits 100% to the role and he’s the best he’s been in a film since at least Minority Report.
There are currently eighteen books in the Reacher series, so there’s plenty of source material for a McQuarrie/Cruise sequel if Jack Reacher finds the audience it deserved on DVD after a so-so theatrical run.