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Found 4 results

  1. It has been said that Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove is an anti-war film for those already convinced, and I suppose that's fair enough. But I've just watched it for about the 11th or 12th (or maybe 15th) time and I have to say that I think it's the greatest film ever made. It's visually ravishing, even though the process shots of the B-52 in flight are not as duplicative of reality as modern film graphics; they're still devastatingly beautiful. George C. Scott's performance is certainly his greatest in a long and wonderful career, and ditto Sterling Hayden. Peter Sellers's three performances are all precious treasures, but his performance in the title role is almost impossibly, almost uniquely brilliant. If you haven't seen it, you need to see it. You may not be aware that Sellers was supposed to play the Slim Pickens role as well as the others. I don't know if that would have made a better or a lesser film, but it's hard not to love Slim Pickens's performance. What prompted me to watch Dr. Strangelove just now was seeing Fail-Safe on TCM just before. Practically the same conception, released in the same year, except Fail-Safe didn't have any laughs or any genius. If you want another great anti-war film, possibly even for the unconvinced, watch Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory, another of my favorite movies.
  2. I first heard about "Johnny Got His Gun" when I was in college, when a friend told me it was about the most depressing movie he'd ever seen. I've heard it come up several times since then, all with pretty much the same synopsis: 'About as depressing as a film can be.' This comment inspired me to finally watch it, and you can tell from the first ten minutes of the film, that it's not going to be something that makes you want to go out and party when it's over. The opening credits alone signify war in its strongest possible connotations; then, the first few minutes reveal that what you're about to see is as grim as it gets. And, unfortunately, it appears that it's going to be a very well-made film, too (poorly made films are easier to laugh at, dismiss, and forget). My advice ten minutes into the movie: Don't start watching this unless you're glad you endured "Shoah," and thought "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover" was a great film (which I did). This is not going to be an easy two hours. The juxtaposition between Joe's thoughts and dreams (in color) and his harsh reality (in black-and-white) are incredibly effective, and the dream scenes are long enough where you become absorbed in them, and then - *Bang!* - back to reality. Even though I'm only a few minutes into this film, I have a general idea of what it's about, and I'm almost dreading it while at the same time feeling a sort of "need" to watch it. It is noteworthy how much Donald Sutherland looks like the European perspective of Jesus Christ - there may be some sort of connection here (I've just been introduced to him for the first time, at the card game). So far, there is a pervasive feeling of "gentleness" to this movie - Joe's comments to himself, for example, are spoken in soft, gentle tones, and even when he gets angry (e.g., when he realizes they're removing staples from up around his shoulder area), he's still a gentle person. This community is not for the discussion of religion, unless it's in proper context, and when discussing a film, it's fair game. Christianity here (I'm 33 minutes into the film) is being strongly portrayed both as an asset and a liability - who would deny these poor people hope of ultimate salvation, which is the only possible reason for them to keep going? And yet, the tale of tying up the group of Native American hunters with rocks around their feet and drowning them in the lake was undoubtedly done "in the name of Christian principles." Sutherland was indeed portrayed as a Christ figure, and I can see that motif developing as the film progresses - I have a pretty good feeling that Christianity won't be looking terribly good as the film ends, but let's wait and see - there's a very "small," humanistic aspect to this movie that I think is going to trump any sort of grandiose, anti-religious message, which would just be too lazy and unoriginal to force us to choke down. All this said, there is a reversal-of-roles between what Joe's mother was feeding him ("God is the only reality; everything else is just a dream") and his eventual state, which is the exact opposite of what he was taught - regardless of how this plays out, there's little doubt that Christianity is a leitmotif in this movie. My impression, 33 minutes in, is that I absolutely love this movie. Also, that I'm glad I didn't see it when I first heard about it thirty years ago because I didn't have the wisdom to process it. (Note: I just sneak-peaked to see if Roger Ebert gave this movie his highest possible rating, which I figured he did ... and he did. I didn't read what he wrote (yet); just looked at the rating.) At one moment, Joe is panicking because he's in-between a dream- and a reality-state and says, 'Oh, Jesus Christ, how can I even tell there's a difference?" And then the camera immediately cuts to Donald Sutherland. I watched the final hour of this movie without wanting to come over here and type anything. It is anti-war propaganda, sure, but it is so masterfully done that it is an art form of the highest order. Even though it's a simple premise, this is a multi-layered, complex, film that requires the viewer to come to terms with some very difficult questions. It is at once, the most basic of human dramas, but also a political indictment every bit as powerful as "Dr. Strangelove." I was wrong about one thing, however - it's not *as* depressing as I thought, as it is, in some perverse way, a celebration of human life, and I left the movie feeling that one day, soon, Johnny would not only get his gun, but Joe would also get his wish. It also bears mentioning that there's virtually no gore or violence. This is not a partisan film in any way (anti-war, yes), and it is a must see. In a strange way, Joe reminded me of Hal at the end of "2001," the difference being that Hal was completely helpless against being turned off; Joe was completely helpless against remaining on. "Johnny Got His Gun" is available to watch for free on Veoh, and the quality is very good, although the time it takes to rewind scenes is unacceptable.
  3. William Onyeabor is a somewhat obscure 1970s-1980s Nigerian musician who self-produced and pressed his own records. His music is probably best described as afro-funk-centric with heavy synths, tinged with a little disco/soul and drawn out jams...many songs stretch to the 8-10 minute mark. After releasing 8 albums, he became a born-again Christian and apparently disavowed music. He has been recently gaining recognition in the press, this week's New Yorker has a short piece on him in the listings section. David Byrne's Luaka Bop has released a compilation cd of his music. And Byrne is putting together a very brief four stop tour playing his music (NYC, LA, and San Fran) William Onyeabor - Good Name William Onyeabor - Something You'll Never Forget
  4. This is going to drive Rocks nuts: he has a compulsion to break threads apart so that a subject can be looked at in isolation, whereas I prefer to look at things in relation to other things. (Example: I started a thread about Indian restaurants that went defunct after he moved posts to individual restaurant threads.) But here goes... What are your favorite war films? Or anti-war films? A few months ago I saw Grave of the Fireflies for the first time, and it's been haunting me ever since. According to the Wikipedia article, the director has denied that it is an anti-war film, but it was hard for me to see it as anything else, and apparently I'm not the only one. For anyone who's put off by the fact that it's an animated film, read Ebert's review linked to above.
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