Monday, April 19, 2010

Full metal Delorean

Full Metal Jacket: Kubrick's take on the Vietnam movie, with the first half being a blackly funny portrayal of Marine basic training and the second following one of the recruits, now a military journalist, as he is embedded with an American unit during the Tet Offensive. The main theme seems to be war/the military as inducing madness, starting with the film's merciless exploration of how Private Lawrence is driven to murder/suicide, and continuing on into Vietnam as Adam Baldwin (playing a prototypical Jayne Cobb) turns out to be the sanest person in the unit. Filmed in the UK, though so cleverly you wouldn't know it.

Back to the Future: Which I watched to death as a kid (for those of you too young to remember, the most popular kids' birthday party activity in the mid-Eighties was to, drumroll, RENT A MOVIE and WATCH IT ON YOUR LOVELY NEW VCR, and this was one of the ones deemed family-friendly enough to become a birthday-party staple), but haven't seen for years. What strikes me most this time around is the rather poisonous nature of the film's nostalgia. Eighties America is run-down, ugly, graffiti-ridden and ultra-capitalist(no surprise there), but Fifties America is cute, new, clean, pretty, and even the moments of racism are dealt with in a kind of jokey ain't-prejudice-quaint sort of way. Which obscures the fact that Fifties America also had a lot of nasty things going on, and also encourages people not to look for progressive solutions to the problems of the 1980s, but instead to try and return to some kind of rose-tinted impossible Disney-movie utopia of the past. Which sums up a lot of what I hated about growing up in the 1980s-- namely, that it was really hard to appreciate the good things we had (and we did have them) when the media, cashing in on Baby Boomer nostalgia, was constantly telling us how much nicer everything was in the past (and also remaining annoyingly silent on the question of, "OK, so if the Eighties are so terrible, how are we going to make them better?"). It's no wonder that Reagan and both Bushes liked evoking this movie in their speeches.

Movie count for 2010: 37