Busy week for me personally but here I am with thoughts on Full Metal Jacket, The Hidden Fortress, and Brother Orchid.
Full Metal Jacket
Stanley Kubrick, 1987
After I saw the movie I read the Wikipedia page about it and followed it to Roger Ebert’s review. I agreed with his assessment of it in the broad sense.
I think at a certain point Kubrick (maybe after Lolita? I haven’t seen it so I may be off base here.) Decided that it was impossible to know any character truly in any way in a two to three-hour life span and gave up on doing it at all. All of his movies are about going crazy and aesthetic and themes of humanity but with inhuman characters.
Ebert found a sexual presence in the training scenes in how Marines should treat their rifles and others point to the brainwashing of the Marines into killing machines. Yes. More so when the film shifts to Vietnam the indifference on both sides of the conflict seems to be the main point. In all of this though there is no criticism.
So I’m thinking that maybe “it just is” is maybe the point. And that’s why the film has no plot. A plot has progression. “It just is” can’t have progression. Is is stationary. Nobody learns anything and nothing is gained.
Was anything really learned or gained from Vietnam?
The Hidden Fortress
Akira Kurosawa, 1958
Of the Kurosawa films I’ve watched recently this is my least favorite so far. The plot is very simple: a Warrior, two thieves, and a prostitute try to get a disguised princess out of enemy territory to safety. The film is 138 minutes. It’s very well shot but its a Kurosawa film so…yeah there always really shot well. Kurosawa and Kubrick can frame the fuck out of a shot. This however is the first film from Kurosawa that I’ve found that lacks any character depth or philosophy on life. The warrior is brave and smart, the Princess is rash and brave, the Prostitute is loyal to the Princess and brave.
The difference is kind of made up in the two thieves. We never learn there motivations or back story but I admire that Kurosawa kept them so consistent. They don’t learn the error of their ways or are redeemed in any way. They’re peasants. Peasants have to survive any way they can because peasants don’t have fucking options.
It was an entertaining adventure movie that should have been cut by about 20 minutes. Which is fine.
Lloyd Bacon, 1940
This was one of those movies a little further down the line of the Gangster movie factory of pre-war Hollywood. At this point they stopped doing remixes of The Public Enemy and Scarface and was in the mode of putting gangsters in other situations.
That said I can’t tell you a thing about this 80 minute jaunt of a thing. It moves like a bullet, its plot developments are whipped at you lightning fast and some of them are just lunatic. Right smack in this movie, swear to god, is a character from a Jim Thompson novel. All surface suggesting menace but here is perfectly nice. If you can find this, lend it to people without the case and tell them not to look into it at all cause it’s better that way goddamit.
-Daniel Von Egidy,2010