Monday, July 31, 2006

Fight Club in Real Life

My all time favorite movie is Fight Club, so I was fairly interested when I saw an article on USA today about real life fight clubs that have been springing up. How anyone who has seen the disturbing gore of that movie could actually want to try it out for real is beyond me, but apparently it's a spreading problem. Here's the link for the full article, and I've included some of the more interesting parts below. (All of the following paragraphs are the copyright of USA Today).

"The video shows two bare-knuckle brawlers brutally punching each other until one slumps, beaten, to the ground. The fight doesn't end there: The victor straddles the chest of his fallen opponent, firing rights and lefts into his face.

This is not a scene from the Brad Pitt movie Fight Club. Instead, it involves real teenagers in an underground video called Agg Townz Fights 2. Their ring: the grassy schoolyard of Seguin High School here. They're engaged in a disturbing extreme sport that has popped up across the nation: teen fight clubs."

"When the protagonist of author Chuck Palahniuk's cult 1996 novel Fight Club is asked by a client at a business meeting how he ended up with a black eye and a cheek swollen with stitches, he gives the all-purpose answer of kids everywhere: "I fell." [Note: This is incorrect, he actually tells a nurse in the hospital he fell."]

That fictional scene explains how many teens involved in real-life fight clubs are able to keep them under the radar — even when they come home from school or show up in class with cuts, bruises and swollen knuckles."

Fight clubs tap into a dark, nihilistic "part of the American psyche fascinated by the spectacle of blood and violence," says Orin Starn, cultural anthropology professor at Duke University who teaches about sports in American society. "This does seem a phenomenon of the Mortal Kombat, violent video game generation. The fight club offers the chance to bring those fantasies of violence and danger to life — and maybe have your 15 minutes of fame in an underground video."

Chuck Palahniuk, author of the cult 1996 novel Fight Club that was the basis for the 1999 movie, declined an interview request but said, "God bless these kids. I hope they're having a great time. I don't think they'd be doing it if they weren't having a great time."

The fictional fight club led by Pitt's character, Tyler Durden, in the 1999 movie was made up mostly of men in their twenties who made a sadistic and masochistic sport out of fighting one another.

Durden's main rule for his club became the movie's signature line and a slogan in popular culture: You do not talk about Fight Club.

Teen fight clubs in Arlington often and elsewhere follow that advice, and police and school authorities have been frustrated by the wall of silence that has surrounded the clubs. Not one of the hundreds of parents who viewed clips from Agg Townz 2 at several community and church meetings seemed to have a clue that fight clubs existed — or that their kids were involved, Hawthorne says. Among local teens, he says, the clubs have been common knowledge.

For those who are stupid enough to be considering joining one of these fight clubs, check out this video of what happens to our good friend angelface during his fight with the narrator:

Fight Club - Angelface Beating Clip

Little Miss Sunshine (2006) - Trailer

I really don't know anything about this movie besides that Steve Carell is in it. IMDB has made a special site for it, but even that site doesn't include many details:

LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE tells the story of the Hoovers, one of the most endearingly fractured families ever seen on motion picture screens. Together, the motley six-member family treks from Albuquerque to the Little Miss Sunshine pageant in Redondo Beach, California, to fulfill the deepest wish of 7-year-old Olive, an ordinary little girl with big dreams. Along the way the family must deal with crushed dreams, heartbreaks, and a broken-down VW bus, leading up to the surreal Little Miss Sunshine competition itself. On their travels through this bizarrely funny landscape, the Hoovers learn to trust and support each other along the path of life, no matter what the challenge.

It still looks like it could be a good quirky comedy, and hopefully I'll get out and see it and post a review. Strange that its already out and I haven't seen any commercials for it at all, but maybe it'll be one of those good unknown comedies.

World Trade Center (2006) - Trailer

I feel like it's way to early to be making this movie. I thought it was wrong to make United 93, but this crosses the line. I don't understand why the producers think that it's ok to turn a horrible tragedy into entertainment. Maybe if this movie was made 20 years from now it would be different. Munich was alright because the event in question happened decades ago; the memories are less poignant. But I feel like this is too soon. Leave a comment with your opinion.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Beerfest (2006) - Trailer

Greatest. Movie. Ever. That's all I have to say.

King Kong (2006) - Review

King Kong is, quite aptly put, a monster of a movie. It topped Titanic as the most expensive movie ever produced, and the running time comes in at just over three hours. I was worried that the long running time would destroy any film's entertaining scenes (The Deer Hunter anyone?), but I'm happy to report that King Kong was so good that I didn't even notice the excessive length. This even includes the exposition of the film, and I usually think of character set-up as tedious.

Although everyone knows the story, I'll do a quick summary anyways. An self-fufilling movie producer (Jack Black) leads a crew of sailors and actors to an uncharted island in the middle of the ocean in a last ditch effort to produce a blockbuster hit. Unpon setting foot on Skull Island, the leading actress Ann Darrow is taken prisoner by the natives to be sacrificed to Kong. See clip below:

Ann Darrow Sacrifice Clip

A team of rescuers, lead by her lover, Jack Driscoll, tracks her across the island, and eventually is able to save her. In the process Kong is captured and taken back to New York to be displayed as part of a show. By this time, the gorilla has fallen in love with Ann, however, and goes on a rampage throughout the city to find her.

I was totally taken away by King Kong. I thought that Peter Jackson did an excellent job of making the film believeable. As strange as it sounds, Kong and Ann were a good onscreen couple. I thought that Andy Serkis (Kong) actually did a better acting job than Watts in this relationship. You could tell that Kong cared for Darrow without it being over the top, while I thought that Naomi Watts overplayed her role and was over dramatic. I also thought that the "connection" between Darrow and Kong was much stronger that between Darrow and Driscoll, which is strange since they were supposed to be lovers.

Jack Black also did a good job of portraying film director Carl Denham. At he onset of the film you really root for him, but by the ending you see him as a shallow self serving person who cares more about making money than he does the lives of his good friends.

The monsters in the film were creative, and actually fairly scary. The one part that bothered me in the film was that if it were in real life, then the T-rex would have attacked Kong instead of fighting for a small morsal like Darrow, but then again, its only a movie. To see some of the insects in the film watch the clip below:

Bug Clip

I would have liked to have compared the original 1933 version of King Kong with Peter Jackson's film, but I saw the original many years ago, so I don't remember it very clearly. Obviously the plot of the two movies are fairly similar (expedition to undiscovered island, Kong steals girl, Kong falls in love with girl, Kong fights on the top of the Empire State building, etc.), but perhaps I'll rent the original again and put up another post comparing the smaller details.

Film Filter Rating: 9.5 / 10

Bonus Clip - Finale Lead-In

Kong is pursued by the army as he runs through New York with Ann in his hand. This scene leads into the Empire State building finale.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Spiderman III (2007) - Teaser

As much as I hate to admit it, I got pretty excited when I saw this teaser. As you can see from the teaser Spiderman is finally donning his black suit (for the initiated its not so much a suit as a living alien creature), which I think looks pretty slick. The best part is, from what I've read, that one of the villians that Spiderman is going to be facing off against is Venom. The only thing that could make this film better is an appearance from Carnage, but I guess that'll have to wait for Spiderman IV.

Visit the official Spiderman III website.

Miami Vice (2006) - Trailer

I never saw the original Miami Vice television show, but just from looking at the trailer I can say that the film is probably going to be much edgier and violent than whatever was on T.V.

The way I see it this film can go in two directions: It's either going to be another brainless summer movie that everyone forgets about a few years from now, or it'll actually be a well done action film. My intuition says summer movie, but I'll have to wait until I see it.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Crank (2006) - Trailer

Check out the trailer for the new action movie Crank:

The movie looks like it will be an above average action-flick, and I like the premise. I'll be on the lookout for more information on the movie.

By the way, if anyone knows what the name of the song played in the last minute or so is, then please leave a comment.

Click Here for the IMDB site.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Memento (2000) - Review

Go out and rent this movie today. It's like nothing you've ever seen before, and its really, really good.

Memento follows Leonard, the main character, as he tries to find and punish the man who raped and murdered his wife. This is very difficult for Lenny to do, however, because he was also attacked during his wife's assault, and suffered permanent brain damage. Due to his injury, Leonard cannot form new memories; he can remember everything up to the incident, but nothing afterwards. If you tell him something, three minutes later he will have forgotten it.

To combat this problem, Leonard carries a camera and photographs important people and places in his life. He writes himself notes to remind himself to do things, while always being on the lookout for someone to write a false note to put him off the trail of the killer. Vital information he tatoos on his body.

The interesting feature of this movie, as well as the most entertaining part, is that the movie is shown in backwards chronological order to simulate Lenny's disorder. In other words, you see the end of the movie first. While one might think that this would ruin any suspense in the film, the complete opposite is true. The magic of memento is that you are sure you know what happens (after all you've already seen the ending), but as the movie goes on you realize that everything that you assume to be true is wrong.

The backwards order of the film is also good because it makes repeat viewings as entertaining as the first time. Every time you watch Memento you see something new; another piece falls into place. The events in Memento are also up to interpretation, which means that you can spend hours arguing with your friends over what really just happened. This movie is a new classic and everyone should see it.

Film Filter Rating: 9.5 / 10

Make sure to check out the official Memento Flash site. Word to the wise, though, it's better to see the movie and then go to the site. If you haven't seen the film, it will mostly be an assortment of pictures and sound clips that won't make any sense to you. If you've seen the film before, then there are some interesting bits that tie in with the movie.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Independent Film - Brian Nelligan

Check out these shorts from Independent filmmaker Brian Nelligan. Drano is the strangely humorous story of someone who wants to end their life, but just can't seem to do it. Mary's Car Key's is about a woman who needs to flee the country after a murder, but has a little trouble with her keys. The Rise and Fall of Dustin Voyeur, my favorite short out of the three, is the story of an awkward college student who becomes a local celebrity, only to end up laying bloody on the ground. If you like what you see, make sure to order a copy of Brian's DVD from his myspace:

Click Here to see Drano (1:21) and Mary's Car Key's (3:57).

Click Here to see The Rise and Fall of Dustin Voyeur (10:55). Scroll down the page until you reach Thursday, February 16, 2006.

Use of the F-word

My friend sent me this page on wikipedia (Click Here for full article). Its a list of the movies that most use the F-word. I've included the first twenty-five entries on this page for you:

On a side note, the veracity of these numbers are in question, so check them out for yourself. If you find a discrepancy, leave a comment with the real numbers.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Movie Wrap-Up II

Once again, it's been a little hard finding the time to write up these reviews, so here's another quick overview of what I've been watching. (Note: starting in this post I'm insituting a new grading scale out of 10, with 1 being poorest quality, and 10 being highest quality.)

Life of Brian (1979)

Another comedy from the Monty Python troupe, which, despite being done in their predictable nonsensical style, still manages to be extremely funny. As the title would imply, this film follows the life of Brian, a man who was born at the same time, and in the house next to Jesus. Because of this, he spends the entire movie being mistaken as the messiah, something that he neither encourages or likes. While there are many memorable scenes, there were some that I did not find to be quite as humorous, and because of this I still prefer The Holy Grail as my favorite Monty Python film. For newcomers to Monty Python, even though you may find the events of the film to be absurd, and the dialog hard to follow at times, their films are still very funny, and Life of Brian is one of the best.

FFR: 8 / 10
Bigus Dickus Clip (Large file be patient)

This clip is from Brian's first encounter with Pontius Pilate, who speaks with an absurd accent and becomes enraged when the soldiers laugh at his friend "Bigus Dickus". Download Clip Here (Limited Time).

Citizen Kane (1941)

Some hail this film as the greatest ever made, but I have to differ. It's a good movie, but for me, it comes no where close to being the greatest. When Charles Foster Kane (a parallel of William Randolph Hearst) dies, the last word he utters is "Rosebud", which sparks a search by news reporters to discover the meaning of the strange outburst. What follows is a series of flashbacks on Kane's successful, but mostly unhappy life. The story is expertly told, and by the end of the movie I could really empathize with the hollow, lonely man that I saw on screen. Despite enjoying the movie, it does not deserve to be called "the greatest movie ever made". The film is over 60 years old, and therefore it does not resonate deeply with me. There were a few scenes that were boring, but overall the film was not boring. Instead, there is more of a sense that you are just waiting for the end, instead of enjoying the part of the film you are watching. Citizen Kane is a classic movie, but it is not the best.

FFR: 8 / 10

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

This film follows the exploits of the famous Hole in the Wall gang, and claims to be based on true events, although I didn't do any research to check up on this claim. The action scenes are very enjoyable, provided that one can overlook details such as Sundance's impossible accuracy with a pistol. My favorite scene was when Butch Cassidy blows a traincar into splinters the size of toothpicks, causing Sundance to rib him with: "Think ya used enough dynamite there, Butch?". Despite the action scenes, the rest of the movie is fairly mundane: Nothing special, and at times somewhat boring. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is an excellent addition to a Western movie marathon, but is not a must-see.

FFR: 7 / 10

The Big Lebowski (1998)

This film suprised me. Prior to renting it, I had seen short 5-10 minute segments on Comedy Central, and had found it to be extremely confusing and stupid. Seeing the whole movie, though, changed my mind. It was excellent. The Big Lebowski is the story of Jeff Lebowski, a 30-something easygoing stoner who spends the entire film in what appears to be boxers and a bath robe, and who insists that you call him "The dude". In a case of mistaken identity, the Dude gets involved in a kidnapping plot that just keeps getting more complex. This film also stars John Goodman as the Dude's friend Walter, who ironically makes the dude look like the world's most responsible person in comparison. The Big Lebowski is one of the funniest films I've seen in a long time, despite the fact that if you took the words "dude", "man", "fuck", and "bowling" you would have about a third of the movie's dialog.

As a side note this is a Coen Brother's film, and if you havent' seen any of their excellent movies yet, you should check them out.

FFR: 9 / 10

The Chosen (1981)

I really did not want to watch this film. Despite this, like The Big Lebowski, I ended up really liking The Chosen. When my Dad first suggested it to me I hated the idea. How could it be interesting to watch two teenagers with differing Jewish beliefs become friends? It actually was interesting, and it was also very entertaining. On the surface The Chosen appears to be about two friends learning to accept each other, but the film is more about the relationship between a father and a son. This struggle is shown through Danny and his ultra-conservative father who rules Danny's life while maintaining a code of silence towards his son. There is some great acting, and while you're probably like me and would automatically write off this movie, I still think that its worth a rental, especially if you're a father or son.

FFR: 8.5 / 10

Monday, July 17, 2006

Movie Wrap-Up

Hey, I've been really busy lately, so I haven't had a chance to update my blog for a while. Despite this, I've still been watching a lot of movies, so I'll give you a quick overview of some of the more interesting ones.

Superman Returns (2006)

Despite having read many negative reviews for this film, I enjoyed it quite a bit. There were some shortcomings to the movie (there should have been far more action scenes...come on its a superhero movie) but overall it was definitely worth seeing in a theater. Maybe it helped that I saw it in the world's greatest movie theater. Another minor complaints were that Lex Luther was a far too likeable villian; I kept rooting for him instead of hating him. Also I didn't like how the film downplayed superman's patriotism. In this movie Superman just stands for truth and justice...not truth, justice, and the American way. I saw the version of the movie with select scenes in 3D, and although some might find this gimmicky, I think that it added to the experience.

Film Filter Rating: 2.5 / 4

American Pie Presents Band Camp (2005)

In my opinion, gross out comedies such as the American Pie series cannot be critiqued the same way as other films. Of course they're going to be vulgur, and filled with lowbrowwhat gimmicks. Thats makes them fun to watch. So, if one approaches Band Camp with that mindset, it's very funny and enjoyable. I thought it was interesting to see an American Pie movie without the usual actors, and Tad Hilgenbrink did a great job of making the audience believe he was Stiffler's brother (he even perfected Stiffler's sneer). The movie is very formulaic, and is basically the exact same movie that you've seen in all the other American Pie movies, but it was still worth viewing if you need to unwind.

Film Filter Rating: 1.5 / 4

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982)

This film is Steve Martin's parody of all the 40's film noir flicks, and I must say that it is excellent. Although the movie was made in the '82 it was filmed in black and white, and Martin splices in scenes from the films that he is parodying. Because of this he co-stars with the likes of Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, etc. This effect was done so well that I didn't realize at first that Martin was conversing with long dead actors; my brother had to point it out to me. The plot to the movie makes no sense at all (Martin is a private eye investigating the death of a cheesemaker) but the film is hilarious.

Film Filter Rating: 3 / 4

Flightplan (2005)

This movie stunk. I didn't want to see it in the first place, but for some reason my dad had his heart set on watching it, so I joined in. The plot of the film is boring, and you can see most of the twists coming from a mile away. Also, Jodie Foster's character Kyle (her role was written for Sean Penn, but when she got it they kept the name) is so annoying that I actually yelled at the tv. Finally, if you look back at the film's events after you learn the final twist, you'll realize that there is no possible way that they could have occured the way they did. Instead feeling fufilled when all the pieces come together, this movie makes you glad that it is over.

Film Filter Rating: 1 / 4

Jacob's Ladder (1990)

This is another movie that I've ruined for myself by going into it with too high expectations. There is nothing wrong with this movie; it is a great thiller that really makes you question Jacob's reality. Despite this, I felt like the film fell short. I had read so many different reviews of how creepy the film was, and was looking forward to seeing the fast-head spasms of the hallucinations, something that I had heard a great deal about. Jacob's Ladder delivered what everyone said it would, I had just envisioned it being...well, better somehow. Another complaint is that while at the time I'm sure the I'm-already-dead ending was a suprise to audiences, now the ending has become somewhat of a cliche. This movie still warrants a rental, and its influence has been seen in several other movies, as well as the Silent Hill video game series.

Film Filter Rating: 2 /4

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Constant Gardener (2005) - Review

This movie turned out to be nothing like the way I had envisioned it. I had never seen any trailers for it; prior to watching the film, I had only seen a movie poster with a man wielding a Beretta. "Oh, it will be a slick spy film set someplace in Europe, with ample ammounts of gunplay", I thought as I popped in the disc. The Constant Gardener was slick, but other than that it was completely different from my expectations.

If anything, this movie is more a love story than a spy film. The Constant Gardener follows Justin and Tessa Quayle's relationship from when they first meet, to their efforts to aid those in Africa. Justin is a low level diplomat from Britian, and Tessa is a humanitarian working to help the disease ridden. Tessa's work is extremely secretive, and she doesn't share many details about her job with her husband. When she is suddenly killed on her way back to home, Justin realizes that Tessa was targeted by a large drug company who didn't want her snooping around the drugs that they were giving to infected Africans. Justin makes it his mission to find out what happened to his wife, and to bring those responsible to justice.

At the outset of the film, Tessa is introduced as an outspoken activist who shouts out accusations about the United States during a lecture. Because of this I was afraid that the movie was going to be one of those preachy films that blames the U.S. for everything, but for the most part it wasn't. Mainly it blamed Britian and greed for the evil things occuring in Africa, with occasional sideswipes at America. The one scene that really got to me was a newscast when an African woman was basically blaming the United States for the AIDS epidemic, but it was only a 30 second scene of a two hour film, so I'll let it slide.

Athough I was expecting a ton of action, and there was none (I kept waiting for Justin to use that beretta, but it never happened), and although the viewer will basically know who killed Tessa very early in the movie, it made watching the plot unfold no less entertaining to watch. I thought that the movie was very well produced, and the visual style evoked that of Man on Fire, but in this case it was actually done well. The ending, which I normally might find overly dramatic, worked well with the movie.

I don't know whether "The Constant Gardener" was a good title for the film, however. It is original, and Justin does work in the garden obsessively, but the movie is about Tessa. Even though she dies early in the movie, the rest of the film is still about her life's work and the circumstances of her death. Still, this is only nitpicking, and the title of a movie doesn't really matter, I guess. Especially when the movie is as good as this one.

Film Filter Rating: 3.5 / 4

Check back in a few days, I'll post some downloadable scenes rom the movie.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Out of Time (2003)

While editing my past blog entries, I reread my review of Man on Fire (Found here), which got me to thinking about Denzel Washington's other recent movies. While I thought that John Q was fairly good, if you want to see an excellent Washington movie I would suggest Out of Time. Its relatively unknown, despite being only three years old, but it was a movie that really kept me on the edge of my seat.

Denzel plays Matt Whitlock, a police chief of a small town on the outskirts of Miami. He is recently divorced and currently is having an affair with another man's wife, Ann Harrison. Harrison needs some quick money, so Whitlock lends her some confiscated drug money that has been sitting in storage for years. Before she can repay the money, though, her house mysteriously burns down, killing her and her husband. Whitlock is put in a shakey position because not only does all the evidence point to him, but his supervisors come looking for the drug money only days after he lends it to her. What follows are some of the most tense moments I've seen in film. If you're looking for a good film staring Denzel Washington, or just a good film in general Out of Time is for you.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Brick (2005)- Trailer

I was watching The Constant Gardener (review coming soon), and during the previews I saw a trailer for a movie called Brick. I had heard nothing of this movie before, and know little about it, besides the fact that it had been shown at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005, and that I want to see it. Here's the trailer, hopefully I'll be able to find out more on this film and have another post on it.

Click Here to download the trailer (2:23, 33.1MB). Limited time to download.

IMDB's Plot Summery:
In a modern-day Southern California neighborhood and high school, student Brendan Frye's piercing intelligence spares no one. He's not afraid to back up his words with actions, and knows all the angles; yet he prefers to stay an outsider, and does - until the day that his ex-girlfriend, Emily, reaches out to him unexpectedly and then vanishes. His feelings for her still run deep; so much so, that he becomes consumed with finding his troubled inamorata. To find her, he enlists the aid of his only true peer, the Brain, while keeping the assistant vice principal only occasionally informed of what quickly becomes a dangerous investigation. Brendan's single-minded unearthing of students' secrets thrusts him headlong into the colliding social orbits of rich-girl sophisticate Laura, intimidating Tugger, substance-abusing Dode, seductive Kara, jock Brad and - most ominously - non-student the Pin. Only by gaining acceptance into the Pin's closely guarded inner circle of crime and punishment that Brendan will be able to uncover hard truths about himself, Emily and the suspects that he is getting closer to.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Donnie Darko (2001) - Clips

Here are some of the best scenes from the movie Donnie Darko which stars Jake Gyllenhaal. Although this movie is relatively unknown by mainstream audiences, many non-mainstream viewers (read: goths, etc) are vary familiar with the film. It is the story of a mentally disturbed individual, Donnie, who narrowly misses being killed by a falling jet engine, and begins to take orders from a vision of a man in a rabbit suit. It's actually very interesting to watch, despite the low budget special effects. I suggest that you go out and rent it today.

Download Here
(2:33, 37.9MB)

Head Over Heels Clip
This clip shows Donnie entering his high school. During the entire clip, the song"Head Over Heels" by the Eighties band Tears for Fears is playing. Time speeds up and slows down, giving this clip a dreamlike feel. Many of the major characters appear for the first time in this clip.

Download Here
(1:32, 22.8MB)

Smurfette Clip
Donnie and his buddies discuss the sexual habits of smurfs while drinking and shooting a BB gun. Donnie has some classic lines in this clip.

Download Here
(3:18, 49.1MB)
Fear Lecture Clip
Jim Cunningham (Patrick Swayze) gives Donnie's school a lesson on the dangers of fear, and how to over come them. When he opens up the mike for questions, he isn't prepared to deal with Donnie.

Download Here
(2:40, 39.5MB)
Frank in the Bathroom Clip
Donnie has a vision of Frank, the demonic rabbit, in his bathroom while taking his pills. At the same time, his parents are at a PTA meeting at Donnie's school. The teacher who raises the issue of book banning reminds me of my old gym teacher Mrs. Thursby.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Fight Club (1999) - Music Video

This is a music video for my favorite movie of all time Fight Club. The song in the video is "This is Your Life" by the Dust Brothers, and it is found on the soundtrack for the film. Brad Pitt actually did the voiceover for the song, and the video contains all of the most important scenes from the film.

Download Here
(3:30, 34.8MB)

The Deer Hunter (1978) - Review

I saw this movie a week ago, and although I wrote down my initial thoughts and feelings about The Deer Hunter, I didn’t write up a full review at the time. I had heard good things about the film, and it was rated highly on IMDB’s top 250 movies, but after finishing it, I completely hated it. I thought large portions of the film were boring to the point of being tedious, and the few scenes with action were sickening, on the verge of disturbing (and I didn’t like A Clockwork Orange because I thought it was tame). I couldn’t understand why it was so highly touted.

I thought it over, and I realized the answer after seeing a portion of the movie for a second time a few days later on AMC. The reason that The Deer Hunter is critically acclaimed is because it is a powerful movie: It is capable of eliciting strong emotions, and those emotions stick with you.

The Deer Hunter is the story of lifelong friends from Pennsylvania whose lives, and the lives of all those around them are dramatically changed by Vietnam. Three men from the group go to serve, and are captured by the Vietcong. They are then forced by their captors to play Russian roulette for the captor’s amusement. For those who do not know what this is, Russian roulette is a game where a revolver is filled with a single bullet, the cylinder is spun so that the bullet is in a random chamber, and then the two “players” take turns shooting the gun at their heads until one of them gets the chamber with the bullet and kills themselves. (Note: After the release of The Deer Hunter there were several dozen Russian roulette style deaths)

The Russian roulette scenes were the ones that stuck with me the most after seeing this movie. While the prisoners playing Russian roulette was bearable for me, later in the movie when people chose to play of their own free will, it was a little disturbing. People were literally throwing away their lives for a thrill or for money. In one of the final scenes where Nicky (Christopher Walken) plays against Mike (Robert De Niro), I actually sat back in horror when Nicky shot himself. It was only a movie, but Mike’s reaction where he just cradles Nick’s head in his arms, repeating his name over and over as blood spurts everywhere, seemed so real to me. I actually felt like I had just lost a good friend.

Despite these powerful scenes, I still agree with my initial perceptions. There were large portions of the movie that, although necessary to set up the characters, were almost impossible to sit through because of boredom. The parts that were exciting were also sickening. Add to this that the movie length was over three hours, which is quite a long time to sit through when the movie is only marginally interesting. Overall, although it had powerful performances, it was one of my least favorite movies.

Film Filter rating 1.5 / 4


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