Archive for May, 2009

APT PUPIL, Bryan Singer 1998

Posted in Horror, Thriller, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on May 23, 2009 by Toi Brownstone

AptPupil

After seeing The Boys from Brazil (pretty cool movie by the way) we got acquainted with Apt Pupil, based on a novella written by Stephen King also taking from a starting point the discovery of a former Nazi commander hidden in an average suburb in the US by a teenager. 

Todd Bowden (Brad Renfro), a very popular and successful kid in local high school in South California, attracted by Nazi theories based on the purity of race, discovers that Arthur Denker (Ian McKellen), a quiet and isolated old man, is in fact a Nazi fugitive war criminal named Kurt Dussander who used to torture and kill Jewish people in different extermination camps during WWII. Not only his research is based on written information but also dares to analyze his fingerprints by stealing a cup from his garbage can. 

Surprisingly the kid starts blackmailing and humiliating the old man, threatening him to inform authorities if he doesn’t just tell stories about life in the camps, executions…Therefore desperate Dussander accepts Todd to come to his place on a daily basis for explaining and detailing  every issue he wants to know about, and even  submits to the humiliation of wearing a fake Nazi uniform and  marching as in his old times. 

C'mon, tell me more!

C'mon, tell me more!

Stories become the kid’s obsession, who even starts suffering hallucinations, and of course,  that affect  his performance, both in studies and sports, and his behavior, up to a point, he intercepts a letter to his parents advising on poor marks in the exams, risking to graduate and the possibility to access to a good university. 

At this point, and thanks to Dussander’s quick intervention impersonating Todd’s grandfather in front of high school counselor Ed French (David Schwimmer), the relationship between the kid and the old man becomes even, so both could report each other, and they split ways returning to their former lives. 

Nevertheless, Dussander, is forced to let a strange homo bum (Elias Koteas), seeking for cash and food in exchange for sex, who’s been stalking him for a while in his place,and is not able to inhibit his killing instinct however, he suffers a heart stroke, not having anyone else but Todd to turn to for help, who will finish with what the Nazi had started, again bounding to each other to hide what happened from authorities, parents and society. 

They will be able to cheat everybody but in the most ridiculous way Dussander’s secret past eventually sees the public light… 

The story of Apt Pupil is really cool, I would like to read the novella though to check the way the movie was adapted because but for very remarkable exceptions Stephen King’s stuff does never endure a transformation into the screen without suffering. 

It is a fact that not much especial effect work is required for the story deals more with the psychological aspect and how characters are affected by Dussander’s past and develop a need for inflicting pain on the weak although I don’t think this change in behaviour or the remembrance of past are not dealt in depth enough,if so the idea of how the account of brutal events in the past can still make an effect on somebody could have been strengthened and Apt Pupil could have become a success. 

Unfortunately changes are not very well reflected, the fact that Todd is changing is only shown in very few scenes, the relationship between him and Kurt is neither focused on, and I could keep on naming. 

I think the “problem” of this movie is to be under Hollywood influence, with established or fashionable actors, the director of amazing Usual Suspects (and later of X-Men, Superman Returns among others) and the  support of a powerful film company. This movie was designed to be a box-office hit, to be consumed by as much audience as possible, forcing to smooth the deep content of the story in the interest of being attactive to everyone, just offering the hallucinations effectiveness as the darkest side of the story, and to be honest, they don’t seem too relevant or well explained either and almost fall into the ridiculous in order to justify what we’re watching has the stamp by the king of terror. 

Thus as in many other cases, the idea is simply awesome but not well developed, and again it comes to my mind, and guess to others’, that we would had done it better.

FULL METAL JACKET, Stanley Kubrick 1987

Posted in Drama, Uncategorized, War with tags , , , , on May 22, 2009 by Toi Brownstone

full_metal_jacket

Just before watching Apocalypse Now we decided to review Full Metal Jacket, another classic in war movies I’ve seen many times. Somebody told me it’s outdated and has lost all the effectiveness with the passing of time, I don’t agree, in fact I still enjoy watching it, although I must reckon the more I watch it, the longer it seems to me.

 

As usual, Stanley Kubrick’s point of view is very subjective and he creates his own world and his own Vietnam conflict as to reflect what he seems to think about it. You can agree with that, or find everything twisted and exaggerated, but I like it and it’s worth seeing it.

 

The story is clearly divided into two parts, the training and the combat, all narrated through the eyes of Private Joker (Matthew Modine), a know-it-all guy who, compared to the rest of the company, seems the most intelligent one with something to tell.

 

Recruits arrive to the Marine Corps training camp to be trained and even humiliated   by brutal Gunnery Sargeant Hartman (R. Lee Ermey). After process of blending the human beings into soldiers, and losing any kind of identity, the only way to distinguish one from another is by the nicknames put by Hartman, thus there are Cowboy, Joker and the black sheep and object of all mistreatments, Private Pyle (Vincent D’Onofrio).

 

Here's my riffle, here's my gun...

Here's my riffle, here's my gun...

 

This guy is overweighed and quite slow and dumb, likely a borderline retarded, almost a vegetable which does not feel nor think much, just to be commanded and obey. As the law of the strength and masculinity rules, he immediately becomes the centre of Hartman’s mocks and because of his lack of agility and his stupidity, his superior decides to punish the rest of the company for all his mistakes or faults, thus, he becomes the most hated private not only by the sergeant but also by his colleagues, who at some point, decide to take revenge. By the time the training finishes, Pyle has suffered a complete transformation being a perfect killing machine but totally insane in the brain, celebrating his graduation with a terrible and impressive ending.

Once training has been completed, soldiers are directly sent to Vietnam. At this time, Joker has become war correspondent with Stars and Stripes and does not share his initial idea of becoming a Marine for killing. Due to some disagreement with his superior’s ideas of covering news and events he’s sent to the hot area of Phu Bai, for writing a paper where he will live the actual cruelty  of war in first person. 

As a two-segment movie, I personally prefer the first part, on which more psychological aspect is depicted. Second part rhythm is too slow although oppresive atmosphere is very well created and the end is powerful. 

Camera work is outstanding, I really enjoy with the barrack scenes, the lighting is very cool at night, don’t know how to explain but find this part absolutely appealing. I definitely must enlighten myself by reading something about techniques. 

Regarding performances, Vicent d’Onofrio and R. Lee Ermey are positively the best, and portrait their characters providing them of clear personalities, essential for the conclusion of the first part. 

Is the American Army objectively depicted? We’ve seen hundreds of militar harrassment stories in movies, and even in real life, we sometimes hear things, not only internal scandals but tortures inflicted to prisoners. it’s something to think about, really. 

Anyway, Full Metal Jacket is a must see, a war movie but also a reflection on real life, one of these stories wchich, once finished, can encourage you to deep thoughts.