August 14, 2011

Indians in Taking Chance

Watched this movie recently:

Taking Chance (2009)The made-for-HBO Taking Chance is based on perhaps the single most moving artifact to come out of the Second Gulf War, Lt. Col. Mike Strobl's first-person narrative of his voluntary mission escorting the body of a fellow Marine killed in Iraq. Strobl (played in the film by Kevin Bacon) hadn't known Lance Cpl. Chance Phelps but, noticing they'd been born in the same western town, he requested temporary leave from his duties as a manpower-deployment analyst at Quantico in order to accompany the 20-year-old's body home. Home, as it turned out, was no longer their shared birthplace in Colorado but the high-country Wyoming town of Dubois. The journey would take Strobl deep into the heart of his nation, and his own heart as well. There's no overstating the power and beauty of what he encountered: one instance after another of not just military personnel but airline employees, passengers, and bystanders doing honor--mostly wordlessly--to Chance's coffin and his escort as they passed by. First-time director Ross Katz deserves credit for declining to inflate any of these moments or underscore their meaning with grandiloquent speechifying, and Bacon--an actor who couldn't hit a false note if his life depended on it--is true to the Desert Storm veteran's self-discipline and emotional discretion. The picture's decency is unimpeachable, and Strobl's story, transcending pro-war and anti-war politics, is itself an act of healing. --Richard T. JamesonComment:  When the body arrives in Wyoming, the locals hold the funeral in an auditorium. Among the mourners are a group of 4-5 Indians, including Carla-Rae (formerly Carla-Rae Holland):Carla-Rae Beshaw (pronounced Bee Shaw), is a SAG, AFTRA and AEA, actress. Born in upstate New York Carla-Rae is of Seneca/Mohawk French Canadian heritage.A later scene shows a group of orange-clad Korean or Vietnam War veterans who may be Latinos.

It's not a big deal, but in a Western location, you should see a sprinkling of Indians and Latinos at a military event. It's good to see someone putting a little thought into representing the setting accurately. Even if these characters are on screen only for a couple of seconds, it's a nice touch that people (like me) will notice.

As for Taking Chance, it definitely doesn't take sides in Bush's controversial war on Iraq. I think that weakens the film a little; you can't help thinking Chance was foolish to enlist in a war against the wrong enemies. But it's a fine film that deserves the awards it won. Rob's rating: 8.5 of 10.

For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.

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