A Full Metal Jacket for you to Wear This Fall

“I Am Become Death” reads the helmet Adam Baldwin (It’s hard to read here, but trust me). This anti-war tale from Stanley Kubrick takes place deep in the Vietnam war. And while half the movie takes place in the battle fields of Vietnam, half takes place in violence free America. Why would an action film take so long to get to the action, you ask? Well, mostly, because it’s not an action movie at all.

You see, Kubrick really made the film as an anti-war commentary, and as such, covered both sides of war. The film is really two films in one, split down the middle with only one character (The protagonist, Joker) bridging the two gaps. The first features boot camp for Joker and his pals. This is the part most people seem to recognize from the film, because it gave us this guy:

Full Metal Jacket Drill Sergeant

This half of the film showcases the brutality that was forced on every soldier by our own men. Never mind what the Viet Cong may have done to our boys, the drill sergeant in this film seemingly hoped to top it. He manipulated the men, turned them against themselves, while swearing and berating them every day. He may have had the best intentions for the men, but the unholy hell that he put Vincent D’Ofrino’s character through (see Private Pyle for just a little taste) causes him to snap, and shoot himself in the bathroom of the barracks. The scene of him loading his weapon before the act (an exquisitely slow scene that builds every single moment of tension possible) gives the film it’s name. But while this is the less violent, it is probably the strongest anti-war sentiment of the film. It showcases the mental instability that is enforced in the military to turn their men into killers.

And then, suddenly, we are knee deep in the war. Joker has chosen to become a field reporter, bringing news to the soldiers. He has never really been in conflict. He has never killed a man. He also wears a helmet which reads “Born to Kill” right next to a peace sign button.  He claims that it is “something about the duality of man, sir!” After being dispatched for a story, he and a friend from boot camp (whose name escapes me…watch the movie and let me know what his name is!) end up trapped behind enemy lines and getting lost, with a contingent of men featuring “Animal” (The man you see at the top of the article). Animal is the perfect example of a soldier. He has started enjoying the killing. And he understands this. He even comments on the fact that there is no home for him. At the end of the film, a single sniper holds the contingent at bay, killing multiple people (including Joker’s friend, and captain). Eventually, Joker and a couple of other soldiers make their way into the building where the sniper hid, revealing that it was a woman in her youth. Joker is forced to shoot and kill her to preserve his own life, and then everything ends all hunky dory. Or, you know, traumatizing.

I did not describe the plot to bolster my word count, or to ruin everything. I did it to make a point. The entire 2 hour and 45 minute film was about Joker becoming a soldier. THE ENTIRE THING. You spend 2 hours and 45 minutes meeting hundreds of characters, only to realize that none of them really matter. What matters is Joker’s growth as a character. And while you might think that it is a waste of time for that little pay off, you would be wrong. The entire film, from start to finish, is riveting to the point of madness. Every character plays a different bit part in the sweeping performance of the war, and brilliantly creates Kubrick’s argument for the destruction of war and expansion of western civilization. And, of course, the song that caps the film (that you are currently listening to) is the perfect cap to the film. Note: You have NOT been listening to this song, because my computer will not allow me to go through the proper channels to upload videos and audio (or I’m an idiot…probably the latter). Find the song right here…It’s a must: Mickey Mouse Song (Warning Swears).

Below is a link to an analysis of the film that I found incredibly interesting:

Documentary, My Dear Watson

 

A Fish of a Tale

Wanda is a fish. Also, a women. Who happens to be a bank robbing con artist. Who happens to be Jamie Lee Curtis. And the movie is called A Fish Called Wanda. And it is an amazing ride. Just look at this trailer:

A Fish Called Wanda Trailer

I mean, what’s not to like? It’s British, written by John Cleese, and is filled with crime syndicate espionage. Every single person in the film is out to get the other, and it creates the perfect backdrop for a comedy.

John Cleese, of course, was one of the members of Monty Python, and such, the movie features the absurdist take on humanity of such films as Like According to Brian and Search for the Holy Grail. While at first it seems that he seemingly wrote himself out of a major part (he is the mark, afterall), it becomes apparent in the later part of the film that he may be the most important character in the film (not the protagonist, that’s Jamie Lee). We even get to see more of John Cleese than we ever wanted to.

But barring Cleese’s nudity, the film tastefully discusses the sexually adulterous Wanda…by which I mean, constantly pointing out that she is little more than a prostitute. But it does it with a laugh and a wink, and you still find yourself cheering for her as the she is pulled deeper into the treacherous plot. And the character depth is simply fantastic…this is a romantic comedy that gets both perfect. You actually see Curtis fall in love with (I’m not going to spoil it, go watch the movie). But it’s earned, which is so rare in romantic comedies.

Trust me, this film is completely worth the time to watch it. It will keep you laughing the entire way, even while characters die off left and right. Just remember…leave the tartar sauce at home.

Joker V Joker V Batman

I can’t believe that it has taken me this long to watch this…I feel like I have let the entire fandom down. I have been a fan of Batman since I was a young boy, through the animated series.

More recently I have found a love for the comic medium (holistically) and even more recently a love for the Batman comics. Especially those that involve the Joker. To me, The Joker is an incredibly complex character, despite the seemingly chaotic nature of his character. And, because of this, he is the focus of this article.

The Joker is one of those characters that has captured the imagination of comic book writers everywhere. Writers from Frank Miller to Neil Gaiman have tried their own personal brand of The Joker and his unending rivalry with Batman. You love to despise him, and at times find yourself almost rooting for him.

The Joker spent most of his life delighting comic book readers, but has been brought into the mass of our generation through Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight, with the award winning portrayal by Heath Ledger.

But I find myself, a fan of the comic book Joker, appreciating Tim Burton’s take on the character more than Nolan’s (which is really saying something, because I love Nolan as a director and love the Dark Knight). Burton’s Joker (portrayed by Jack Nicholson)  was more well rounded. An enemy created by Batman. A straight laced gangster, through and through. The peak of elegance, which brilliantly juxtaposed the unease of his mind. Compare that to Nolan’s Joker who is as slobbish as he is deranged. Before you even really know who he is, you know that he is insane.

But, perhaps, the biggest difference is seen in these following clips:

Jack Nicholson Joker

Heath Ledger Joker

While I don’t think anyone will ever argue that Ledger’s performance was not the better PERFORMANCE of the two, the writing fell flat. Nolan’s Joker was a madman with make-up. Burton’s was a masterful killer clown. Nolan’s Joker lost the humor. There was no laughter or joy in Dark Knight. But in Batman, you see the Joker pulling pranks. Albeit, insane pranks. But that is what the comic book villain is all about. The joy. The insanity.

That is not to say that I agree with everything that Burton did with The Joker in Batman. Burton changed the background of the characters to say that the Joker, while he was still Jack Napier, killed Bruce Wayne’s parents. This changes the entire point of Batman to a story of revenge, instead of the traditional dark guardian propelled out of his misery. This choice made no sense, but is not really representative of the Joker.

That is not to say that Dark Knight is not a good film. In fact, it’s probably the stronger film of the two. While I did enjoy Burton’s Batman, the plot was lacking intensely, the characters weren’t nearly as developed as they should have been, and there was perhaps a bit too much camp. It was quintessential bad eighties. But it was a fun ride, and if you are a fan of the Joker, it is a MUST.

But for my money, the best Joker award still goes to Mark Hamill:

Mark Hamill Joker