Movie Podcast Weekly Ep. 122: American Sniper (2015)

Episode 122

Finally! Movie Podcast Weekly Episode 122 emerges! In this show, your hosts Jason, Andy and Karl bring you a Feature Review of Best Picture nominee American Sniper. We also bring you our Mini Reviews and most of our specialty recommendation segments! Thanks for listening, and please vote on our poll question below:

survey tools

If you’re new to our show… Movie Podcast Weekly typically features three hosts — Jason, Andy and Karl — along with frequent guests. We give you our verdicts on at least one new movie release from the current year that’s currently playing in theaters, as well as several mini reviews of whatever we’ve been watching lately. And we usually provide specialized genre recommendations. New episodes release every single Tuesday. Join us!


I. Introduction

[ 0:02:27 ] II. Mini Reviews

III. What’s New in Theaters This Past Weekend


[ 0:38:25 ] IV. Feature Review: AMERICAN SNIPER (2015)
Jason = 8 ( Theater / Buy it! )
Andy = 9.5 ( Theater / Buy it! )
Karl = 8 ( Theater / Buy it! )

[ 1:01:23 ] V. Specialty Segments:

Heavy Metal (1981)

Film: Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Great Performance: Paul Newman

VI. Wrap-Up / Plugs / Ending

THE LOFT — Join us!


Jason recommends supporting: Operation Underground Railroad

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Thanks for listening, and join us again next Tuesday for Movie Podcast Weekly.

59 thoughts on “Movie Podcast Weekly Ep. 122: American Sniper (2015)

  1. Due to the poll in the show notes, I won’t be listening to this episode until I see the movie. Thanks a lot, Karl! *wink

    Having not heard the show, I am surprised to see Andy’s rating so high based on how controversial the film is amongst liberals. Andy is quite the “patriot” though. I remember how fervent he was in his support LONE SURVIVOR. Curious to hear why he liked it so much.

    If anyone out there is in the mood for a documentary on this subject, one of the best modern war docs ever made covers the same themes with a real soldier, both in the battlefield and at home. It’s called HELL AND BACK AGAIN. You can stream it for free with ads on YouTube and with a subscription on Netflix. This doc is intense and is shot SO MUCH BETTER than any war doc I’ve ever seen. The filmmaker really put it on the line in a few of these situations.

    • Thanks for commenting, Josh. I will definitely check out that film. I’m very intrigued. I’ve never even heard of it!

      One quick clarification, though… I suspect that when you wrote that the subject of the film was “a real soldier,” you were just underscoring the fact that it’s a documentary, right?

      I’m sure you know that Chris Kyle is a real guy, too, but in this narrative film, of course, he is played by Bradley Cooper.

      • Yes, that’s what I meant.

        Although, since you mention it, I have heard that much of Chris Kyle’s book is fabricated. Of course, that’s just hearsay on my part, I haven’t researched it. Mainly, because I want to be surprised by the film, being unfamiliar with the story.

        • This reminds me of an episode of It’s Always Sunny where one of the characters debunks the theory of evolution with a series of crude drawings by criticizing the very same thing that evolutionists criticize about creationism… which could be applied to pretty much anything in life. If we’re not there to check the facts, how can we really be sure that anything is real? Faith is involved in some sort of measure in everyday life without anyone really acknowledging it. Anyway, that’s kind of a big tangent

          • I’m not trying to debunk anything, I’m saying I’m with-holding judgment until I 1st) see the film and 2nd) do some research.

            I’m just saying that I was initially surprised that Andy rated it so high because he is usually a pretty liberal guy and liberals hate the politics of this film, trying to tie the war back to 9/11 and glorifying a guy that, by some accounts, is a liar and inflated his numbers to be “the most deadly sniper in America” which is a sick thing to do if it is true.

            Again, I don’t know, I’m just curious.

          • Hi Josh.

            I wasn’t trying to say that you were trying to debunk anything. I guess I was just being cynical about the word facts, which is not in your comment anymore for some reason. I could’ve sworn it was there. That one word is what inspired my comment.

            Anyway, sorry for trying to expose you as a debunker, Josh. That was not my intention.

    • Interestingly – you guys also may want to check out “To Hell and Back”. (1955) It’s the real life story of Audie Murphy – the most decorated soldier in U.S. history. He actually plays himself in the film. It’s definitely dated by today’s standards but still amazing to see what one man did.

  2. This episode is hilarious. Andy’s such a card!

    And I kind of agree with Jason’s comment about every role given to Julia Roberts being a miscasting.

    Also, I would pay to hear Andy review Tokyo Gore Police for his segment.

    • I guarantee you, David, he will put Tokyo Gore Police on his list and watch it for free.

      Speaking of funny stuff… Karl was at that Carrie Fisher event (Salt Lake Comic-Con) yesterday and texted this message: “I am in dork hell.”

      • I think that I completely missed the point of Andy’s Unseemly Homework and I may need to reconsider the picks that I sent :/

        Could someone explain it to me please?

        • Mostly, we just recommend movies to Andy that are “unseemly” in some way… So, a lot of times, these will be very bizarre little cinematic oddities that would amount to “Cult Classic,” except they’re not classics.

          Think of it as lesser-known (or lesser-discussed) cinematic oddities…

        • To be honest i was a bit hazy on what exactly the aim of Andy’s segment was (though I am very much enjoying it). “Unseemly” to be suggests something a inappropriate and crude but it seems that obscurity and bizarreness are also factors in what we should be recommending him.

          I just settled on “Tokyo Gore Police” because I want to know how Andy interprets a human chair urinating on a crowd of people.

          I’m still not entirely sure if we should be recommending stuff like “Mac and Me” or stuff along the lines of “Nekromantik”.

          Note: I would settle for an Andy review of just the trailer for “Nekromantik”:

          WARNING: Clicking the above link will result in extremely disturbing content and beautiful piano music.

          • David, would you say that “Coherence” and “The Man From Earth” are unseemly enough? The reason why I picked them was because Andy really enjoyed “Locke” and I wanted to give him two other suggestions that were based in one location and were conversation driven. Both of these movies deal with sci-fi on some level and I wanted to know how Andy would react given that he’s reacted negatively to some aspects of sci-fi in the past. I don’t know, maybe “Mac and Me” is the better choice.

          • I don’t think that I’d categorise those movies as “unseemly” based on what I know about them but I think you should still recommend them to him. A little variation with regards to his segment surely be a good thing for his sanity.

    • Really? I don’t think PRETTY WOMAN works if they’d have done it with 99% of the actresses of her generation and she was amazing in it. I also really like her in MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING (one of the few straight rom-coms I can stomach), ERIN BROCKOVICH, SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY, FLATLINERS, HOOK, STEEL MAGNOLIAS, etc.

      • I’ve always liked Julia Roberts and I second Josh on every movie that he mentioned except Hook. I hate Hook with a passion. Can’t stand it! Everyone thinks I’m crazy, but have you seen the movie lately? It’s bad guys, so bad that I get a headache whenever I get a glimpse of it.

      • I’m pretty much on the same page as Jason in that I’m not disputing her talent as an actress but there’s just something about her that really bugs me. I kind of hate that because I feel really mean for disliking someone who I don’t know and with so little basis. Maybe it’s just that the first time I saw her she was playing the role of a jerk or something and that’s always subconsciously stuck with me? I don’t know.

  3. This is the first time I’ve heard what “American Sniper” is actually about and I wasn’t previously familiar with the true story.

    From what I garner here though it sounds like it’s celebrating a soldier for having a high kill count? This seems really odd to me. Sorry to sound like a crazed hippy but shouldn’t we judge soldiers on the number of lives they save rather than take?

    I’m sure the movie’s far more complicated than that but (and I hope this isn’t too controversial, I don’t want to offend anyone) it always seems odd to me how much reverence the US public seems to have for this kind of stuff.

    • I understand what you’re saying, David, and even though I’d consider myself a red-blooded, patriotic American, I can still see why the rest of the world would view us that way. Then again, I assume every nation has violence in its history, but it seems like we all contextualize it differently. It must be natural, though, to view one’s own country’s war efforts as heroic. I think that’s where the reverence comes from: War is awful and tragic for everyone involved (on both sides of the front), and I think that even if people aren’t necessarily behind a particular cause, we can still feel reverence toward the sacrifice of the soldiers and their families.

      American culture is interesting to me, because we’re relatively permissive and accepting of depictions of violence and guns on TV, but relatively speaking, we get pretty uptight about nudity and sex. I remember all my friends visiting France in 9th grade, and they were blown away by what they saw in simple television commercials. Likewise, I’ve talked to visitors from other countries who were appalled at the amount of violence casually depicted on American television.

      To speak to Josh’s question for Andy: As for Chris Kyle (no spoilers here), the film — and I’m guessing his book, which he wrote — went to pretty great lengths to emphasize that he is such a proficient sniper not because he’s a blood-thirsty killer, but because he just wants to “protect his own guys…” But as I said above, we all “contextualize” war differently.

      • Hmm, in retrospect I think my initial point was maybe a little miscalculated and I certainly didn’t mean to put anyone’s sense of morality under the microscope or anything. I just thought it was an interesting question to raise as the impression I got from the movie was that the selling point of the story was based on how many people this guy had taken out. I’ve not seen the movie so I’m really in no place at all to judge it’s potential biases. Also, unlike some of the very brave folks in this comment section, I’ve never done any military service so I also have very little insight into that side of things. I think I just grow weary of war films where there are definite good guys and definite bad guys and the bad guys are just sort of faceless enemies with no acknowledgement that they too have parents and maybe children. I tend to take the attitude that there are always more victims than there are heroes or villains in a war. But I’m not suggesting that “American Sniper” is one of those movies and it does sound as though it touches on the psychological toll that war can have on the individuals involved. I should probably just shut up and watch the movie.

        I do pretty vehemently disagree with your point that “It must be natural, though, to view one’s own country’s war efforts as heroic” though Jay. I think you can be citizen of a country and even a patriot but still maintain a healthy apprehension about the decisions your leaders make when it means people may loose their lives. Maybe I’m just jaded though; the big war of my generation was Iraq and it’s since become clear that the British public were lied to at the onset of our involvement there.

        Anyway, again I hope I didn’t offend anybody. I just think there’s value in raising hard questions sometimes.

  4. Guys, that’s the most funny episode so far and during the last two years I’ve listened to all of them. Andy cracked me out totally by confusing me with Shannon, thinking she was the one that recommended him Polish film “Katyń”, it was even funnier to hear him emphasized that IT IS a Polish film. I mean, didn’t that ring a bell that it is a POLISH film and I’m the Polish girl? So funny! Great job to amuse me!

    To answer the question about the sniper’s story, I didn’t hear about him before. Although, on the other hand I didn’t care much about the spoilers. Plus, since it’s part of the American history it shouldn’t be a revelation nowadays. Just like saying that Darth Vader is the father of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. It’s not a spoiler anymore, it’s part of pop culture.

    Guys, please, answer my question now, because I’ve been thinking about it recently a lot. There are a few movies that has been released in the USA last year but the Polish premieres are this year. In summing up the year, should I consider them as movies from 2014 (original) or 2015 (Polish premiere)? That’s quite important for me, because for example I was waiting to watch Exodus: Gods and Kings for months now and the premiere here was in January. Kind of a downer, since everyone pretty much talked and reviewed it last year.

    Thanks for this episode. =)

    • Monika,
      My apologies for “a guy named Andy…” ha ha.

      I loved your question. You wrote: “There are a few movies that has been released in the USA last year but the Polish premieres are this year. In summing up the year, should I consider them as movies from 2014 (original) or 2015 (Polish premiere)?”

      Even though I seem unashamedly ethnocentric, what, with my own personal insistence that I consider a film’s year of release when it is first widely available to U.S. audiences…

      But I’d say a similar thing if I lived in Poland! I’d say a film’s year of release is when it is first widely available to Polish audiences!

      So, if you’re asking for our opinions, here’s mine: A movie-lover can only make an assessment (or Top 10 list for the year) on the movies he or she could see …. unless you’re Andy… So, to me, it’s only fair for one to judge from the crop of films actually available that year in one’s own country — much like we only make Top 10 lists “from those we saw,” again, unless you’re Andy… Therefore, if I lived in Poland, a film’s official year of release to me would be when it was first widely available in Poland.

      Thank you for caring about such things. As you can tell, it’s very important to me, too.

      • Thank you so much, Jay. It’s been bothering me for a long time. I have to wait the whole month for the cinema premiere of American Sniper but I’ll definitely check it out.

        I have American friend who served in Navy and was in Iraq. I asked him about his opinion after watching this film. He said it was all right, just needed better CGI. Definitely not a movie who would watch twice.

        Plus, he said that when you are at war snipers save your life many times. And you have to remember that your enemies have snipers, as well. I thought it was a very interesting point of view.

      • oops. Sorry Monica. What’s odd was that I was really worried I’d forget to credit Shannon for Katyn. I’ll fix that tonight.

  5. Also did Jay covertly make mention ofthe fact that he’s started a new Job?

    If that’s the case then congratulations Jay!

    But why in Gods name you didn’t just leave a little message somewhere letting us know that the delay had such a solid reason behind it is beyond me!

    • Yes, after two years of working from home as a part-time podcast producer (for private companies), I am now also working a full-time job, 40 hrs a week, outside of the home. In addition to still producing podcasts part-time for three clients…

      I won’t bore you with the details, but January is always a tough month for me (I have no idea why!), but things change drastically for me every January. I hate the month and cringe when it comes around. Well, this has been my toughest January since 2008, and this past week (when I was terribly tardy with all the podcasts), it was the bottom of the barrel for me, and I had 10 heavy things crushing my head. ha ha.

      But you ask a fair question: I could have made a blog post, but I hate to litter the site with my lame, whiny excuses — as I have here. (I realize I’m littering the audio podcast episodes, instead.) But I want to cut out my excuses altogether.

      In short, I’m in a transition period, where I need to work on some time management, but rest assured, MPW and HMP will live on. And when I get through this transition, we’ll be moving onward and upward (and back to more than one Feature Review per week).

      You don’t know this about me, but I’m obsessed with dental care. ha ha. I’d rather go without brushing my teeth for days than to be days late on an episode release. So, just know if it’s late, that it’s bothering me more than appendicitis, and that it’s coming ASAP.

      Sorry for leaving everybody hanging.

      P.S. HMP Ep. 040: The I-80 Tapes will be released today (Saturday, Jan. 31), no matter what.

      • We all understand Jay…it’s just us having some fun and keeping ourselves occupied during the down time…we love you!!!

  6. Born and raised most my life in Iowa and I’ve never ever looked in the mirror and said to myself…”Now that’s a salt of the Earth guy!”

  7. As for Heavy Metal…for some weird reason in 1981 a theater in a small town in Iowa showed said movie…A child of 11…me…and a friend went to a weekend afternoon matinee…can’t remember what movie we were supposed to be seeing…but after seeing said movie poster we made our choice and was let in no questions asked…my friend and I were the only two people in the whole theater besides another older boy and girl sitting many rows back from us…needless to say we both walked out of that theater wild eyed with the images violence and animated boobies running through our brains…I do believe this movie set my young brain on a course to become the movie…pop culture junkie I’ve become…Andy may have hated it but it flipped a switch in that 11 year old head that made me the cool guy I am now…I own it and has an important place in my heart…so happy it was reviewed so the this story could be told…Thank you more innocent times that didnt know any better…

      • Yeah it blew our fragile little minds…I remember it so vividly…the soundtrack is probably why I turned out to be a metal head too…

        • Sorry if I gave you the impression that I hated it. I did not, to which I am a little embarrassed. It is, however, a stupid film. I simply can’t recommend a movie with such an obvious intent to show animated boobs. Shannon – have you seen the South Park episode Major Boobage?

    • I saw “Heavy Metal” at a young age, too. It was circa 1982 on HBO (a cable network, Home Box Office). All my unseemly cinema loves (Heavy Metal, horror) come from ’80s HBO programming…

  8. Just in case any one was wondering, not everyone in Texas has an accent. I live in Houston, and me, my family and most of my friends don’t have accents. And of course not every one here dumb. We do have ALOT of dumb people, probably a higher concentration than other states, but we do have NASA, so there’s quite a few rocket scientists.

    • Didn’t we just do away with NASA? Also, I know about the wide range of accents in Texas. My wife is from North Carolina. Same issue there. I mostly just like to make of West Virginia because Jason is from there, and so sometimes I have to make a jump from state to state. Your next Alabama.

    • Also, Houston has it’s own accent separate from other big cities like Austin or Dallas. It’s more… trill if you catch my drift. Oh and I have an accent… but that’s because I’m ESL so take that Andy!

  9. Hey guys, I’m new to this podcast so not sure where to suggest movies for the hosts to watch. Well if they catch this comment, could you guys review the new British movie, Kingsman: The Secret Service. I’m not sure when or if its gonna be out in America but its out in UK this week. I watched it last night and was really surprised how much I loved it. The movie is directed by Mathew Vaughn, who also directed x-men the first class, kick ass and the snatch. If you think kick ass is crazy, wait till you see this, I would say that this movie is a kick ass on steroids with a bond movie type story line. With a great cast, really exciting action scenes, hilarity, clever references to other movies and unique Mathew Vaughn direction, its a must watch! I would give it 10/10! Unlike boring and over dramatic Bond films, this is a really violent comedy which takes you on a very fun ride. Just a side note, Colin Firth is so much more of a badass than Daniel Craig will ever be!

    Btw love the show guys, I went back and watched all the episodes that were available on my app, thanks for supplying me with lots of homework:D

    Yevo from Aberdeen, Scotland

  10. I appreciated hearing you mention my post on Paddington, and I’m interested to hear how Andy feels about that movie since he may watch it with his daughter this week. I went to see it with my daughter who is four, I think the movie was PG-13 but I think it was okay for her to see, although certain parts I worried about, like what a taxidermist may want with the bear, or a small part where the Grandmother is drinking alcohol heavily. I think at her age she isn’t questioning to many details of any movies so I think it was okay for her to see.

    I consider myself patriotic American, and I think documentaries usually are the best depictions of the realities of war. I would recommend the movie “Restrepo” for which I think was well done.

    I saw “American Sniper” last weekend and thought the movie was great. I think veterans will appreciate this movie more than “Hurt Locker”. I am a veteran and most veterans I have spoken to have really disliked “Hurt Locker” since the movie was more of a Hollywood take on the war that had so many inconsistencies with reality that it was difficult to watch. I only listened to American Sniper audio book while I was working so I may have been distracted and may have missed a few details, but I wanted to point out that this movie also had a few Hollywood additions to the story. I do not remember there being such a one-to-one antagonist in the book, so the climax is not there, I also do not remember his brother being depicted as being mentally broken by the war, or there being a scene like the birthday party scene. Trying not to have any spoilers, so I’ll stop there, but this movie was better than the “Hurt Locker”, and better than “Lone Survivor”, although “Lone Survivor” it really is just how Hollywood Rambo last scene that left me liking it a little less. I can’t remember but in the book it mentions how Chris Kyle and Marcus Luttrell were close friends which is interesting that both have had major bio-pics made about their lives in the past few years.

    I know that some may not see this movie because they think it glorifies war, but I think some miss the point of certain war movies. I never question the reasons behind the war while I watch these movies, but I view these movies in homage of the bravery of all those who have fought. For Americans, it has become generational for men and women to go off to war, and all those soldiers who have served, no matter the popularity of the reasons behind each specific war, are all noble and deserved to be revered for their bravery.

    The movie I think is more of a glorification of the bravery and the sacrifice of a soldier. You must show the extremes of war, to be able to appreciate the sacrifice given. The movie and the book are more of a telling of the toll it took not only on Chris Kyle’s family, but also to him physically and mentally. Both the movie and the book tell extreme stories of war, these stories are not for everyone. War movies are the stories of the soldiers that fought them not the reasons behind war itself, so I watch these movies without thinking of these things though I know we may have went to the Iraq war under misinformation.

    I still think these movies are very important to our society, to remind us of why we celebrate Veterans Day, and why we should be filled with emotion when we hear the Star Spangled Banner. It is for the soldiers across all generations who fought and have given the ultimate sacrifice. Soldiers and their families sacrifice in times of war. While most of the time the bureaucrats who decide to go to war, usually don’t have any immediate family fighting in these wars, so it is important to forget about the politics, and remember who the heroes are and to tell their stories.

    • “The movie I think is more of a glorification of the bravery and the sacrifice of a soldier. You must show the extremes of war, to be able to appreciate the sacrifice given.”
      Wow, Clayton…very well said! I was in the US Army for 8 years, and my bother is currently in the Army and served two tours in Afghanistan, so I had my own reasons for seeing this film. During the movie, an older gentleman was sitting in front of me and he kept crying while his wife reached to hold his hand. I think a movie like this means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. And, I think Bradley Cooper did a great job…especially with the accent. I think it also needs to be said that Andy was practically awful this episode. I don’t get offended easily, but I was cringing…a lot! :(

  11. Hi Jason,

    Maybe not this podcast, not sure, but you were suggesting the others watch a good documentary on GMO food. Having heard you recently say yoru favorite drink is Coca-Cola, and from seeing your chubby cheeks on one of the Traders Podcast videos, could I strongly suggest you watch the ‘Fed Up’ documentary.

    Look forward to hearing if you do and if any change in your drinking follows. :)

    Thanks for great movie reviews. Enjoy them all. And now listen to most all, even the very long ones! :)

    To your health and happiness.

  12. I finally got around to listening to this episode yesterday. Like Josh, thanks to the poll question, I wanted to wait until I saw the movie before listening to the podcast. Glad I did.

    AMERICAN SNIPER is a tough one for me. I had such high expectations for this movie based entirely on the trailer, which made it scream THE HURT LOCKER (a good thing). This is taken from my “Andy’s list top 10” that I emailed to Jay to close 2014:

    Such a tense ride in a way similar to THE HURT LOCKER. I left the movie theater with pit stains, and it was worth it.

    I realized about halfway through the film that it wasn’t meeting my expectations, so I had to recalibrate the way I was watching it. This isn’t necessarily a fair criticism but, hey, I’m only human. Maybe it’s more an indictment of the marketing of this film for being so awesome (at least for that trailer).

    Anyway, AMERICAN SNIPER does well to create tense moments and gives a really good idea of the camaraderie and brotherhood among soldiers. It also succeeds in making the mundane details of everyday life seem utterly ridiculous, which I think is good to be reminded of from time to time.

    The film is definitely a very narrow look at war: not only is it very specific and small in scope, but it’s also one-sided in its overall messaging. I don’t necessarily have a problem with that because I imagine war to be a very personal thing, where everyone’s experience will be unique. But, I think it’s worth mentioning because it is there. The one-sided messaging, in particular, is troubling at times. We see some pretty horrific things happen to seemingly innocent people, and the film does nothing to show empathy towards that. It’s basically saying that if you’re not an American, then you’re sub-human and your life is not as valuable. That doesn’t sit well with me.

    Overall, the movie seemed to be missing something. I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but it’s been bothering me for the last few days. The best description I can come up with is that the movie feels “thin.” It failed in areas where movies like ZERO DARK THIRTY and THE HURT LOCKER excelled, in creating incredibly intense moments and intrigue. And that’s ok, because I don’t think that’s the type of movie Eastwood was going for. It’s just not for me.

    The last thing I want to mention is the end of the film. I mean, the very end, as in the final shot and into the credits. I thought this was handled masterfully.

    AMERICAN SNIPER is a solid, well-made war movie, but falls short of exceptional in my eyes. It was a 6.5 out of 10 for me until the end sequence, which added a point.

    AMERICAN SNIPER (2015) – 7.5/10

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