|11.01.05||Regal Westgate|| Mendes does the Gulf War. Based on a non-fiction book... it's pretty tough. I guess I'll just split it up into what I liked and what I didnt.|
Liked: the movie is very aware of other war movies... even showing a scene from Apocalypse Now inside the film... so certain scenes that pretty much recreate Full Metal Jacket are intended I guess. I got a good sense that this was a movie made on top of all previous movies though... the whole thing plays on those expectations. In one scene a gung-ho soldier breaks formation to go hop, skip, and jumping out into a desert field. I am just waiting for him to get blown up by a mine and the film does everything it can to make me think that too... but then he doesn't.
Didn't Like: The problem is that nothing happens. The whole movie plays on war movie conventions and expectations then turns all of them on their head. I think that's a really deliberate move that Mendes makes (because he makes it a lot), so I guess the film succeeds in that regard but what I'm left with is a movie where nothing dramatic really happens. It's all just a huge anti-climax. Again, I don't think this is the film's fault per se, I think this is the very message of the film , but it doesn't make me like it any more.
Liked: The few new things brought to the genre were pretty good. The sense of waiting, the paranoia surrounding your loved ones at home and the procedural stuff like hydrating and readiness exercises were interesting to me and all shown very well.
Didn't Like: Some of Thomas Newman's score felt really out of place to me here. With the period source music and deeper subliminal "tense" music going on in most of the film, whenever Newman's trademark plucked strings and light airy Six Feet Under/American Beauty stuff comes in it sounds completely out of place to me. I think Mendes should try out some new talent. I thought Roger Deakins' photography was good but that was clearly a choice made out of neccessity.
So in the end I'd say that it's a good movie that I just didn't care much for. I wasn't really engaged or emotionally involved with anyone, I was constantly deflated of any interest or tension thanks to one anti-climax after the other, and ultimately feel cheated out of a war movie (which I'm convinced were all goals set by Mendes, well maybe not the lack of emotional investment in the characters, but the other two for sure) I'm not sure what a repeat viewing of this will bring. I can definitely see it going either way. I could, knowing how everything turns out, relax into it and enjoy the minutiae and details of the movie and enjoy it a great bit. I could also just sit through it being bored because all of the tension created by setting up conventional war-movie situations is gone.
I guess I will have to wait and see, then write about it here.
p.s. even though I got to see this early and for free, it almost wasn't worth it. It was a packed theater that I had to drive like an hour to get to and the whole crowd was really obnoxious. Little tiny kids were let in to this R-rated war movie, everyone around me talked at different points, never long enough for me to have a solid excuse to shhh them, for a cumulative 40% of the movie, and all the radio station employees threw out t-shirts like foul balls at a baseball game. I guess I should never be surprised at how quickly we as a species degenerate into animals with the scent of free crap in the air, but it was pretty pitiful to see all these people knocking each other over in the aisles to get a free Jarhead t-shirt. One shirt, which was tied into a knot, somehow rocketted past the guy sitting down in front of me and bashed into the back of his seat... It ricocheted like 3 seats over and the guy had a look on his face like 'whoa. that would've hurt. a lot.' So all of that plus a dude a few rows up who said "i want my poster" like 18 times made for a theater experience that, frankly, I'm too snobbish to enjoy anymore. Give me Alamo or give me empty weekday matinee at Tinesltown I guee...