Jarhead and Goodnight & Goodluck.
I was able to catch both of these over the weekend and was entertained and impressed by both. Jarhead is getting battered a bit by reviews, mostly for being a “war movie” without actually having battle scenes and for lack of a better term, a “war”. I would be inclined to agree if I was watching a Platoon or a Full Metal Jacket. But this wasn’t a movie about war, this was a movie about how we’ve trained these guys to be soldiers, snipers, etc and then we let them sit there bored for 6 months. It’s a movie about whats going on in someone’s mind when they’ve been trained to do something and are completely unable to do it. It’s also a perfect example of satire and sarcasm. The opening 10 minutes are a perfect example. Be warned however, that the movie is very much in the same style as American Beauty. It’s very funny and tongue-in-cheek but it’s also laden with first-person voice over naratives. I’ve hear people complain that those were reasons they didn’t like American Beauty. I thought both movies were brilliant and Jarhead is definatly going to be in my DVD collection.
Before I move on to GN&GL I wanted to mention the main reason I never listen to movie critics. Let’s take Mr. Scott of the New York Times for example. Quote: “Jarhead is a movie that walks up to some of the most urgent and painful issues of our present circumstance, clears its throat loudly and says nothing.” I see… so, Mr Scott, what painful issues would that be? The movie didn’t talk about the politics of war, about the justification for/against war, didn’t mention the war on terrorism at all (the movie was 1st Gulf War). It didn’t talk about soldiers dying in Iraq, helping mid-east locals rebuild, the lact of equipment our forces have, roadside explosives, etc. You see what I’m getting at? Mr.Scott has taken a movie about war and applied his own stance about the current gulf war to it without actually giving us any clue what he’s talking about. How about another? Larry Ratliff for the San Antonio News said “There’s not a whole lot going on. This is a war movie without a major battle. … Mendes, a director of indisputable talent, just can’t seem to find his footing.” I’ll give you the fact that there wan’t a major battle Larry, but perhaps, as a reviewer of movies PROFESSIONALLY, you should have grasped the fact that that was THE POINT. Anyways, you can read more reviews if you like. I for one can’t take it any more.
Hell, I don’t know why I like to review movies. Maybe it’s because I consider myself an average guy and consider myself to be both bullshit free and vaguely intelligent. I’m sure that there’s some who would argue both points with me.
Moving right along, Goodnight & Goodluck was a friggin masterpiece. Beautifully filmed, but I love black and white movies, perfectly acted, and the guy they got to play Edward Murrow was so good it was creepy. The main thrust of this, George Clooney’s directoral debute, is a retelling of the McCarthy era battle between the Senator and news man Edward Murrow. I could go into the whole background myself, but I’m far from an expert on it and there are far more helpful resources should you be interested in the subject. Surfice it to say that the movie details the events from a historical perspective while giving us insight into the minds of the characters through their off screen (off tv) personalities and conversations. You really feel that Murrow is concerned for the well-being of people as well as himself and realizes that this struggle is more important that him and that, for the greater good, these things can not continue as they are and that it’s the resonsibility of the people with the power to take action.
I was going to quote another review for disagreeing with me but I can’t seem to find any. I can however, find a few that although they liked the movie, completely missed the point. Stephen Whitty (nice name) from the Newark Star (what a surprise, he’s from Jersey) said “Good Night, and Good Luck says two things, at least, and they are worth repeating: There is always the chance for one good man to make a difference. And in 1954, Edward R. Murrow did.” No, if GN&GL said two things it would be that responsibilty lies with those who have the power to affect change and that persecution based in rumor and not in fact is unjust. If it said three things it would be about the roll media plays in our daily lives. Maybe Mr. Whitty came late and left early, because Murrow SAYS these things as the intro and exit to the movie. That if we become a society based on the placation of the media, that we take out all the icky things in the world and never show people the truth, that it won’t be a society worth living in. I could offer the same challenge to governing bodies like the FCC today. THIS is what Murrow was talking about. And no Mr Whitty, the fact that Murrow was the persion that did it wouldn’t make a 2nd point. I’m sure if he were he here he’d say that it was something that had to be done and that was that. I would contest that Murrow had the courage to do what others wouldn’t but that it was a selfless act. The movie did not glorify HIS achivement as the single reason McCarthy was ultimately denoucned, merely cronicle the events in a beautiful and stylistic manner befitting the subject matter. The movie was strait forward and not trying to preach down to people. I think that’s why I enjoyed it so much. Another for the collection.
Maybe I should be done with movie reviews for a while. But, that would take all the fun out of it don’t you think? So, if anyone’s seen either flick, I’d like to know what you thought. I’m open to thoughts about Jarhead being a bit tedious, but GN&GL was fucking genious.