Monday, August 27, 2007

Movies: Full Metal Jacket

I saw this one on a date, but I don't recommend that you follow my example. This is not a good date movie; if you're objective enough not to be cowed by the first half hour, which contains little more than extreme verbal abuse at high volumes, climaxing in an extremely disturbing murder, and you're not offended by the myriad racist epithets and jokes sprinkled throughout the whole movie like so much salt in mashed potatoes, you will certainly be turned off by either the bloody, bullet-ridden bodies, the bartering over whores (one of whom, in one scene, prepares to service ten American soldiers in a row), or the mercy killing at the movie's end. You certainly won't feel like making out, and you will probably even be too dumbfounded for discussion. That said, it's a great movie, and, in its rampant, violent senselessness, the best Vietnam War movie I've ever seen—maybe the best war movie, period.

I am still somewhat dumbfounded and for that reason will not write the usual summary here. I don't know that I want to remember as much of it as I do. It being an older movie, the scenes of highest intensity are visibly artificial, but their gut-clenching Kubrick intensity is more affecting given the context; that is, the psychologically-damaged characters are more empathetic than those in, say, A Clockwork Orange. The damage is more real, more comprehensible, and all the more upsetting, particularly considering that our country is at war yet again.

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