Thursday, November 3, 2011

Catch-22 (1970)

Synopsis: When the rules don’t make any sense, Alan Arkin takes off his clothes and acts crazy.

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “Mick [sic] Nichols superbly directed this cinematic adaptation of Joseph Heller’s scathing black comedy, a tale of a small group of flyers in the Mediterranean in 1944. There are winners and loser, opportunists and survivors. Separately and together they are nervous, frightened, often profane and sometimes pathetic. Almost all are a little crazy. Catch 22 is an anti-war satire of epic proportions.”

What Did I Learn?: It’s surprisingly easy to transform a US military unit into the new, local mafia.

Really?: Catch 22 is meant to be surreal, so it might be a bit unfair to judge it in this category. That said, wouldn’t a grieving mom, dad and brother clearly know that Alan Arkin wasn’t their son/brother, Harvey? And was it common for New Yorkers to travel across the Atlantic near the middle of WWII to be there for loved ones dying in hospital?

Rating: Filmed at the height of the Vietnam War, Catch 22 is a biting satire of bureaucratic military culture that does something almost unthinkable today – it actually pokes fun at the Second World War. While the film seems a bit dated at times, it’s well-written, and boasts an impressive cast. There’s a scene where the private syndicate within the US military makes a deal with the Germans: we’ll bomb our own airbase and you’ll buy our shipment of surplus cotton. Interestingly, such a scenario doesn't seem all that far-fetched anymore. 7/10 stars.

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