So after that, he wasn't remotely interested in war movies. If you told him a war movie was supposed to be "realistic," he'd just look at you, or look through you. Once he said that if a war movie was truly realistic, then you could smell it. And it doesn't smell like popcorn.
"So put on Bob Hope, will you?" and he'd stare at the TV, and he'd light a smoke and sigh and go someplace inside himself.
Just before the premiere of "Lone Survivor" I told friends and radio listeners that I wanted to see it. But the truth is, I'd hoped avoid it. Marcus Luttrell changed my mind.
Luttrell is the lone survivor, the SEAL who wrote the book on which the movie is based. In a recent interview on CNN, Jake Tapper said something unfortunate about Afghanistan.
Tapper: "It seemed senseless. I don't mean to disrespect in any way, but it seemed senseless -- all of these wonderful people who were killed for an op that went wrong."
Luttrell: "We spend our whole lives training to defend this country and then we were sent over there by this country -- so you're telling me because we were over there doing what we were told by our country that it was senseless? And my guys -- what? They died for nothing?"
Luttrell: "That's what you said. So, let me just say, it went bad for us over there, but that was our job. That's what we did. We didn't complain about it."
A few scribes, trolling for readers, criticize the movie as political propaganda. I just don't think they get it. The movie works because it isn't political. It works because it is about brothers.
Whether it wins any film prizes is irrelevant. Such honors are about cliques and politics. At the awards ceremony, the stars stand on the red carpet and talk about what they're wearing, how they're feeling. They hold up that shiny golden statue. They chatter. They're validated. Celebrity writers prattle on about the after-parties.
But this movie is something apart from all that chatter. This one has quality.
I suppose you can wait to see it at home when it comes out on cable. You can tell yourself that your big screen and sound system can faithfully reproduce the theater experience. But it can't reproduce this:
At the end, with the photos of the fallen up there, you turn. Just then some other theater patron looks up and catches your eye. You notice each other, strangers in the movie-house darkness, and there is a mutual recognition of a debt.
We owe them.