During the short periods of being home in August, I made a bit of an effort to reduce my PVR queue. Except, it not a queue in the normal sense of the word. At any given time, I have fifteen-to-twenty movies recorded off my satellite TV in the past that I want to eventually get to watching. When I find a chance to do that, I pick a movie from the list in a fairly arbitrary fashion, adhering to neither FIFO nor LIFO methodology. Some of the titles may be languishing on the back-burner for quite some time because of that. But since movies that I thus record and watch are not recent releases, I am not too concerned about waiting another month or five before finally getting to them.
Anyway, the brief reviews of the following: Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, Blade Runner, For Your Consideration, Hoodwinked, as well as one recent release, Sex and The City (and no, I did not watch that one on my own!).
Let’s start with the classics.
I’ve seen bits and pieces of Platoon over the years, but never watched the movie in its entirety. I will not dispute the common wisdom that it is a powerful indictment of the horrors of an unnecessary war. But having been raised on the Soviet movies about the Great Patriotic War, I am not truly jolted by the depiction of atrocities, even though I am not used to seeing “good guys” commit said atrocities. Nor do I get a clear answer to the question of what makes a particular soldier go over the deep end when others manage to keep shreds of their humanity; there is not enough character development to conclude anything beyond the obvious “assholes will always be assholes”. In short, as with many other movies that have been “classics” for many years, lacking a first-hand impression of the impact of the movie at the time of its release, I find it slightly disappointing.
Full Metal Jacket disappointed me on a bigger scale. Its “boot camp” half was sufficiently vivid and distressing, on the strength of R. Lee Ermey’s performance. But the outcome felt wrong. Private Joker seemingly went through the ordeal unscathed, when I had every expectation that he would become a hardened asshole. We saw enough shots of brooding Private Pile to expect him to finally go off his rocker, but that it happened after he had made it through the boot camp was somehow unfounded… And then the second half of the movie was an altogether separate story, linked to the first only by the presence of Joker and a later re-appearance of his erstwhile boot camp mate Cowboy. It depicted the bewildered, often incompetent, disaffected, both macho and frightened, even anarchic state of the troops in Vietnam quite well. It was short on “us perpetrating wrongs” stuff and contained reasonable bits of simple heroic behavior. It closed with a notion of being humane to your enemies, even when said enemy – a Vietcong sniper, and a young girl at that, – just killed several of your platoon-mates. Yet, for all that, I did not feel that it contained a powerful image or a powerful message. Again, it must be the lack of appreciation of the movie’s impact at the time of its release. That, and dozens of Soviet movies about WWII.
I know that my friend Jason counts Blade Runner among his favorites (he most recently reaffirmed it here). After watching the movie for the very first time, I sadly admit that I’ll be among those who do not think highly of it. It was simply too dark and gloomy for my taste. I guess the moral of the story was supposed to be that androids were people and all they wanted to do was to escape from their short lives of slavery to the humankind and to find a way to live long and happy lives. But when that proved to be impossible, nothing in the movie prepared me for Roy Batty suddenly stopping being a deranged inhuman fighter and sparing Deckard’s life before peacefully dying.
The depiction of 2019 L.A. was consistently depressing, which to me was the main positive about the movie. I’d like to be able to judge it according to its pioneering impact and its influence on future sci-fi cinema, but I lack proper context for that. And aside from the emphatically dystopian future, what I saw was a dull law-enforcement flick with a lot of accidental storytelling that I struggled to maintain an interest in.
A much lighter fare was For Your Consideration. A satire on many things Hollywood, it provided enough of amusement while steering clear of being openly silly. There is a number of good individual performances, and I especially liked Harry Shearer’s “always smile for the camera” portrayal of a serial loser.
I also watched animated Hoodwinked, which was thoroughly enjoyable. The dialogues and voice-overs were top-notch and the whodunit take on the ageless story was hilarious at intervals. The CGI animation, for some reason, looked a bit outdated to me, but then I don’t recall what computer animation was supposed to look like in an age as distantly in the past as 2006.
Finally, Sex and The City. Natasha is an unabashed fan of the erstwhile HBO series and a proud owner of every single episode on DVD. Me – I liked the show, too. Jason recently blogged on the subject of “guilty pleasures”, so were I not in agreement with him that the phrase is devoid of meaning, I would hide behind naming the original show one of such pleasures of mine. There is something about seeing beautiful people live the good life and get in and out of amorous and humorous circumstances that appeals to me. Unreal sense of fashion notwithstanding.
We watched the movie together upon our return home. It contained enough of sitcom material and sexual undertones – as well as pictorials – to satisfy both the devout and the casual fan. When the story started to be largely about Carry’s broken heart and gradual recovery from the shock of the aborted wedding, it became a bit tedious, but levity eventually returned to the narration, while not exactly reaching new heights. All in all, it is not a bad movie, but I suppose it may be hard for a non-fan to enjoy.
That was it for August. With the European football season in full swing and the NFL season starting tonight, I wonder how many opportunities for movie-watching I am going to find in the near future. The PVR queue may start growing further…