Sunday, November 18, 2018

Flags of Our Fathers (2006)

War Movie #1 (While I usually post my war movie reviews before Remembrance Day, I was quite busy earlier this month, so I wasn't able to get to them until this weekend). 
Synopsis: It starts out as The Thin Red Line and quickly turns into That Thing You Do
Blurb From the DVD Jacket: “On the frontline, there’s no time for fear.” 
What Did I Learn?: 1) Iwo Jima is an “ugly, smelly, dirty little scab of rock” which translates as “sulphur island.” 2) Three days is a fucking beautiful thing. 3) No sense being a hero if you can’t look like one. 4) The military always trains you for desert warfare on a volcano. 
You Might Like This Movie If: you're fascinated by the flags of our fathers. 
Really?: So, was America really on the verge of bankruptcy near the end of WWII and ready to cut a deal with Japan due to a lack of funds, or was that just some useful spin to motivate the boys to sell war bonds? This is never made entirely clear. 
Rating: Clint Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers is a powerful and thought-provoking look at America’s campaign in the Pacific theatre and the propaganda that enabled the country to sell war bonds. The film examines the brave young men who raised Old Glory over Iwo Jima, and were then used (and later discarded) by the government. Overall, Flags is an impressive war drama, although my only complaint would be a lack of focus in the second and third acts. As Ira Hayes becomes increasingly troubled by his PTSD and survivor’s guilt, it increasingly becomes his story, even though it’s not really that interesting, and I would have liked to have learned more about Doc Bradley and Rene Gagnon. Still, Flags of Our Fathers is highly recommended. 9/10 stars.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Trees Lounge (1996)

Please click the link to read my review of the similarly-themed Barfly
Synopsis: Luckless, Likeable lallygagging lounge-lizard lush loser loves liquor, looks languished, louses livelihood.
Blurb From the DVD Jacket: "All Tommy wants from life is what everyone has - a job, a girl and a good time. But the harder he tries, the worse things get." 
What Did I Learn?: Everybody's fucked up, but nobody wants anybody else to think they are, but everybody knows they are anyway. 2 It’s easy to confuse Marlon Brando with Jerry Lewis.
Really?: Ok, Trees Lounge is a total hole-in-the-wall dump that hasn’t been renovated (or cleaned) in the previous 40 years, but I had a hard time believing a juke box in 1996 would be loaded up with the Ink Spots and an entirely pre-rock ‘n roll musical lineup. 2 So, does Tommy have any actual talent as an auto mechanic? This is never made clear – he can’t seem to fix his own early-1970s lead sled, but he’s also drunk most of the time. I also wondered if Tommy was telling the truth about not being able to get a reference from Rob or if he was just making a bullshit excuse.
Rating:Trees Lounge is a slow-moving, but heartfelt and surprisingly compelling character-driven seriocomic look at a 30-something guy who really needs to get his shit together and stop hanging out in America’s crappiest dive bar. Buscemi (who also wrote the screenplay and directed) is strangely sympathetic as Tommy, even when the character is obnoxious and self-destructive, which is most of the movie. It’s fun to watch Tommy get into trouble and exchange some very funny barbs with a slew of actors who later found fame on The Sopranos, but there’s a serious message about alcohol abuse behind the laughter. Highly recommended. 9/10 stars.