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Thread: 28 Film Discussion Threads Later

  1. #46876
    Quote Quoting Raiders (view post)
    I don't remember getting the feeling that I was meant to side with Brando's beliefs whatsoever. He's charismatically insane and does a lot of philosophizing, and I'm sure there is an intended truth to his position that a less political and more elemental, and brutal, regime would have "won" the war. But you seem to be taking this at face value, as if because it is in the screenplay and because Brando convincingly gives his argument that the film preaches it as gospel instead of another layer to the madness, and wicked and distorted logic, that can be wrought from such a war and experience.

    I admittedly don't remember many specific details of the actual narration so I won't comment regarding that.

    By chance, have you read Conrad's book?
    I have not, but I fully intend to one day. I'd also like to see Nicholas Ray's adaptation of the same book, Wind Across the Everglades to see how it stacks up against Coppola's. (As much as I admire Coppola, particularly The Conversation, I don't think it's a put-down to say that Ray is the better filmmaker.)

    The reason why I think the film endorses Kurtz's point of view is that the narration, which largely consists of exposition about Kurtz, tracing his journey into the Heart of Darkness, portrays him as an exceptional military officer who was capable of coming up with operations and pulling them off without official permission, "winning the war his way," much to the chagrin of the generals watching the war from behind their desks. (This presumably accounts for his near psychic ability to predict when Chef plans to call in an air strike.) And the fact of his being charged with murder and the military sending Willard into kill him is not only indicative of the Insanity of War, but the narration ultimately vindicates Kurtz's decision to execute those people (Willard reports on the soundtrack, "Enemy activity in Kurtz's sector dropped off to zero. He must have hit the right four people").

    It's true that when Kurtz asks him about his methods, Willards says that there doesn't seem to be any method at all (just the Insanity of War), but he also says in the voice-over that he "felt like he knew a thing or two about Kurtz that wasn't in the dossier," suggesting at least some sort of grudging admiration. Maybe the reason the film seems to go to hell in the final stretch is that Coppola didn't have a clear idea of Kurtz as a character.
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  2. #46877
    Screenwriter Duncan's Avatar
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    And, as others have said, the film is not pro-Kurtz. It is desperately anti-Kurtz. Kurtz is a character, obviously, and a pretty good one as played by Brando, but he also represents the American justifications, tactics, and, yes, even motivations for being in Vietnam, stripped of all polite, propagandistic white-washing, and taken to their limits of extremity. The American position ends in slaughter and heads on pikes. I mean, I feel like to say what I'm about to say is to go into, like, maybe grade 9 levels of Coles Notes-sophistication, but anyway... So there's this guy, Willard, and he's going down a river, into a kind of heart of darkness, if you will, and the further he goes down the river, the madder the world gets. Along the way he meets guys like Duvall who play Ride of the Valkyries, an earnest gesture by the character, but satire of war films in general with their rousing scores. The guy is a sociopath, and portrayed consistently as such. Further down the river still, Willard's boat mates begin to succumb to madness, and, yes, the film does have some sympathy for them, their youth and lives having been wasted on a brutal and absurd war that was a mistake from the beginning. They never should have been there. The whole time you've got these USO shows and rank and file trying to keep a semblance of order layered over the war, but, ultimately, this is untenable, because the universal principle of war is horror, chaos, massacre...basically what Kurtz says. The film, then, is not saying that Vietnam could have been won if the Americans were more callous, but that Vietnam, as a war, sprung from the darkest, most violent places within men. It is deeply critical of the war.

    edit: plus what D7 said about it being analogous to European colonial tendencies.

    And, again, it does consider that Vietnamese woman's position. That you could misread a scene so completely baffles me.
    Wishful thinking, perhaps; but that is just another possible definition of the featherless biped.

  3. #46878
    Maybe I'm just dense, but I don't see how you can claim that the film argues that the American war in Vietnam was "a mistake from the beginning," when it doesn't go into any of the reasons as to why the war happened in the first place. At best, you could claim it shows the insanity of wars in general--a cliche which I've already argued falls into the category of acceptable criticisms. Nor do I think the film makes the case that Kurtz is representative of the American policy when the film portrays him as constantly at odds with the military bureaucracy. It would be more reasonable to say that his insanity is representative of war in general. When you say that the war springs from the darkest depths of the human soul, you could be talking about any war. In other words, war is bad and makes people crazy, which is far from a pointed analysis of American foreign policy in Southeast Asia.
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    The Banshees of Inisherin (Martin McDonagh, 2022) mild

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  4. #46879
    Screenwriter Duncan's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting baby doll (view post)
    Maybe I'm just dense, but I don't see how you can claim that the film argues that the American war in Vietnam was "a mistake from the beginning," when it doesn't go into any of the reasons as to why the war happened in the first place. At best, you could claim it shows the insanity of wars in general--a cliche which I've already argued falls into the category of acceptable criticisms.
    Pretty sure every single vignette is commenting on Vietnam in particular, fictionalized or not. That these specifics can then be broadened to a commentary on war in general shouldn't be held against the film. That's ridiculous. It's an adaptation of a 19th century novel. Of course it's going to be about more than just Vietnam.
    Nor do I think the film makes the case that Kurtz is representative of the American policy when the film portrays him as constantly at odds with the military bureaucracy.
    I am saying he is representative of American policy stripped of its civilized veneer. The generals don't want him killed because he's evil or whatever. The subtextual reason they want him dead is that he reveals the American position in Vietnam for what it is: yet another absurd, colonial escapade that, if looked at honestly, is pretty evil in itself.
    It would be more reasonable to say that his insanity is representative of war in general. When you say that the war springs from the darkest depths of the human soul, you could be talking about any war. In other words, war is bad and makes people crazy, which is far from a pointed analysis of American foreign policy in Southeast Asia.
    I don't really disagree with you, and that's why I prefaced my comments with the Coles Notes remark. But you seemed not to be picking up on any of it, so I felt it necessary to state the obvious. That said, I think the film is much richer than that.
    Wishful thinking, perhaps; but that is just another possible definition of the featherless biped.

  5. #46880
    Montage, s'il vous plait? Raiders's Avatar
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    Why does it matter to this particular film why the war started when it so obviously has led us to this point where the film picks up? Whyever it did start, it has come to this and "this" is what Sheen's character has to face and deal with. The war has become such a failure that Sheen's mission is to hunt down a man, his own brethren, who was once a brilliant military strategist who has allowed the darkness and brutality of war (and make no mistake, it could indeed be any war, but Vietnam has always had a very distinctive air that makes it even more pungent in these regards) to seep into his own strategical mastery and form a kind of monstrous rationality for how to "win" the war, when the entire first two hours of the film have shown us not only that we aren't "winning" anything but that the war is no longer a focused initiative about "winning" but is disparate elements, factions of people all living it out differently from Kilgore's narcissistic, sociopathic adherence to killing and surfing to USO facades to outposts that seem almost completely removed from reality. It shows that the American manifest belief of spreading change and democracy has failed and I don't think you need to be a scholar to see the arrogance of ever trying, particularly when there are men such as Kilgore and Kurtz leading the way.
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  6. #46881
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    Quote Quoting baby doll (view post)
    I have not, but I fully intend to one day. I'd also like to see Nicholas Ray's adaptation of the same book, Wind Across the Everglades to see how it stacks up against Coppola's. (As much as I admire Coppola, particularly The Conversation, I don't think it's a put-down to say that Ray is the better filmmaker.)
    No, not a put down, just incorrect. Ray never made a film close to Godfather I or II or Apocalypse Now.
    The Princess and the Pilot - B-
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  7. #46882
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    Quote Quoting baby doll (view post)
    Maybe I'm just dense, but I don't see how you can claim that the film argues that the American war in Vietnam was "a mistake from the beginning," when it doesn't go into any of the reasons as to why the war happened in the first place. At best, you could claim it shows the insanity of wars in general--a cliche which I've already argued falls into the category of acceptable criticisms. Nor do I think the film makes the case that Kurtz is representative of the American policy when the film portrays him as constantly at odds with the military bureaucracy. It would be more reasonable to say that his insanity is representative of war in general. When you say that the war springs from the darkest depths of the human soul, you could be talking about any war. In other words, war is bad and makes people crazy, which is far from a pointed analysis of American foreign policy in Southeast Asia.
    Because this film is not the dogmatic rhetorical shite that you want it to be.
    The Princess and the Pilot - B-
    Playtime (rewatch) - A
    The Hobbit - C-
    The Comedy - D+
    Kings of the Road - C+
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    The Hunger Games - D-
    Prometheus - C
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  8. #46883
    Quote Quoting Qrazy (view post)
    No, not a put down, just incorrect. Ray never made a film close to Godfather I or II or Apocalypse Now.
    Arguableee. But of course you know this.

    Apocalypse Now is a fine movie, though.
    The Act of Killing (Oppenheimer 13) - A
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    American Hustle (Russell 13) - C+
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  9. #46884
    Evil mind, evil sword. Ivan Drago's Avatar
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    To this day I will never understand why it took me 22 years to see The Exorcist for the first time. Fucking amazing film.
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  10. #46885
    Here till the end MadMan's Avatar
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    Having seen AN 3-4 times, I have to say that based on what baby doll has posted about the movie I think he completely missed the point of the whole thing. I hate to say it, but I believe it to be true. Maybe he went on to say further things about the characters, but if he thinks that Kurtz and Kilgore exist to say "If only we'd done this and that we'd won the war," then he watched a completely different movie than I did. I came away feeling what Coppola wanted me to feel: that these guys were utterly insane. But okay...

    PS: My review of the movie states how I feel about it, and what I think. And hey, its whoring out my own work. Hurray!

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  11. #46886
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  12. #46887
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    Kuroneko is opening at a Portland cinema in early November. Anyone else getting this in their town? Is this one of those pre-DVD tours? Cause it's a great movie.
    Coming to America (Landis, 1988) **
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    Us (Peele, 2019) ***1/2
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    Shadow (Zhang, 2018) ***
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  13. #46888
    A Bonerfied Classic Derek's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Spinal (view post)
    Kuroneko is opening at a Portland cinema in early November. Anyone else getting this in their town? Is this one of those pre-DVD tours? Cause it's a great movie.
    Coming to LA 2 weeks after Portland. Janus picked it up, so it'll most likely get a Criterion. Been wanting to see this for a while since I love what I've seen from Shindo.

  14. #46889
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    Quote Quoting Derek (view post)
    Janus picked it up, so it'll most likely get a Criterion.
    I had a feeling.
    Coming to America (Landis, 1988) **
    The Beach Bum (Korine, 2019) *1/2
    Us (Peele, 2019) ***1/2
    Fugue (Smoczynska, 2018) ***1/2
    Prisoners (Villeneuve, 2013) ***1/2
    Shadow (Zhang, 2018) ***
    Oslo, August 31st (J. Trier, 2011) ****
    Climax (Noé, 2018) **1/2
    Fighting With My Family (Merchant, 2019) **
    Upstream Color (Carruth, 2013) ***

  15. #46890
    sleepy soitgoes...'s Avatar
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    I probably prefer Onibaba to Kuroneko when comparing Shindô horror.

  16. #46891
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  17. #46892
    The Pan Qrazy's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Spinal (view post)
    Kuroneko is opening at a Portland cinema in early November. Anyone else getting this in their town? Is this one of those pre-DVD tours? Cause it's a great movie.
    When are you going to give Naked Island another chance?
    The Princess and the Pilot - B-
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    The Comedy - D+
    Kings of the Road - C+
    The Odd Couple - B
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    Prometheus - C
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  18. #46893
    The Pan Qrazy's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting soitgoes... (view post)
    I probably prefer Onibaba to Kuroneko when comparing Shindô horror.
    Almost goes without saying. Onibaba is his masterpiece.
    The Princess and the Pilot - B-
    Playtime (rewatch) - A
    The Hobbit - C-
    The Comedy - D+
    Kings of the Road - C+
    The Odd Couple - B
    Red Rock West - C-
    The Hunger Games - D-
    Prometheus - C
    Tangled - C+

  19. #46894
    A Bonerfied Classic Derek's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Qrazy (view post)
    When are you going to give Naked Island another chance?
    Quote Quoting Qrazy (view post)
    Almost goes without saying. Onibaba is his masterpiece.
    I prefer Naked Island. You know poetic minimalism is Spinal's kryptonite...no need to make him suffer.

  20. #46895
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    Quote Quoting Qrazy (view post)
    Almost goes without saying. Onibaba is his masterpiece.
    Quote Quoting Derek (view post)
    I prefer Naked Island.
    Derek is the winner!

  21. #46896
    Montage, s'il vous plait? Raiders's Avatar
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    It goes without saying that Onibaba is 'meh'.
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  22. #46897
    Moderator Dead & Messed Up's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Raiders (view post)
    It goes without saying that Onibaba is 'meh'.
    And yet, here you are, saying so.



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  23. #46898
    Here till the end MadMan's Avatar
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    Weekend:

    *The Bird With the Crystal Plumage
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  24. #46899
    Finally saw The Road this evening. Definitely wasn't disappointed.
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  25. #46900
    Picked up the directors cut of Natural Born Killers today on a lark for $4.99 at Best Buy. Been wanting to revisit it for quite a while now. It was the second movie I ever reviewed and I pointed out at the time how it was closely related to Full Metal Jacket, which it is. I've been meaning to expand upon those thoughts.
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