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Non-Review Review: Platoon

I think now, looking back, we did not fight the enemy; we fought ourselves. The enemy was in us. The war is over for me now, but it will always be there, the rest of my days. As I’m sure Elias will be, fighting with Barnes for what Rhah called “possession of my soul.” There are times since, I’ve felt like a child, born of those two fathers.

Oliver Stone Charlie Taylor meditates on Vietnam

I honestly think that Platoon might be my favourite war film ever made. It’s almost certainly my favourite Vietnam film ever made, despite my considerable respect for Apocalypse Now. However, though Stone’s classic is steeped in allegory and metaphor (see the above quote), I think that it works better as a personal account of the conflict, rather than Coppola’s attempt to capture the surreal nature of the war on celluloid. Stone actually served a tour over there, and I think that there’s a lot of his own personal perspective poured into the film, which makes it feel like quite a raw and powerful piece of cinema.

War is dirty business...

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Ultimate Comics: Captain America (Review/Retrospective)

In celebration of the 4th of July and the release of Captain America: The First Avenger later this month, we’re jumping into Marvel’s comic book alternate history and taking a look at the star-spangled avenger every Wednesday this month.

I have a certain fondness for Jason Aaron. He’s a writer who has fantastic success in taking the more hardcore elements of the Marvel Universe and making them work. His Ghost Rider is acclaimed as one of the best runs ever on the character, while his Wolverine is considered some of the greatest work on the title in quite some time. Even his Punisher MAX run has enjoyed considerable success, despite following in the footsteps of the defining Garth Ennis run. So I was initially extremely excited when Aaron was given the job of writing the Ultimate Comics: Captain America miniseries. Unfortunately, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed with his work here. It’s still competent and engaging, but it lacks to sort of energy and focus that one associates with the writer.

Apocalypse... Now?

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On Second Thought: Apocalypse Now (Redux)

I wrote in my review of the original version of the movie that the two-and-a-half-hour cut captured a great deal of the insanity that seems to have been a defining characteristic of the Vietnam War, with the movie feeling like a crazed surrealist trip into madness, a collection of abstract meditations on the American condition that felt compressed at over two hours. If that is the case, Apocalypse Now Redux captures another aspect of the conflict. It’s now less insane, but the instability and absurdity appear more systemic and endemic. It’s bloated, terrifying, harrowing and seemingly eternal.

Much like the war itself.

Back into the Heart of Darkness...

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Why The Social Network isn’t an “Outside” Choice for Best Picture…

I enjoyed The Social Network. Hell, I loved The Social Network. I think it’s easily one of the best films of the year. It has – deservedly in my humble opinion – generated a huge amount of buzz about the Best Picture Oscar. However, the more interesting facets of discussion measure the film against the other favourites, like The King’s Speech or Black Swan. A number of these arguments suggest that The Social Network deserves the Oscar because it is “more socially relevant”, even painting the Oscar voters at a crossroads – forced to choose between a modern film (The Social Network) and a classy but stuffy period piece (The King’s Speech). However, I find this argument rather disingenuous. While the Oscar voters in that situation would undoubtedly be choosing between two solid films, I think it clearly misrepresents the appeal of David Fincher’s deconstruction of the American Dream.

Will Academy voters be getting a friend request?

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