Da Couch Tomato

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Full Metal Jacket

The best war movies were made before CGI came along.

Of course, no decent filmmaker would use CGI to recreate the cold and deadly atmosphere of warfare. Nothing replaces the real thing. And this film was by Stanley Kubrick. And we all know how much of a perfectionist he can get.

R. Lee Ermey is hilarious as Gunnery Sgt. Hartman. The only thing is, he isn't trying to be funny. He is trying to be serious. But his lines are so damn funny. "I'm gonna give you three seconds, exactly three fucking seconds, to wipe that stupid-looking grin off your face or I will gouge out your eyeballs and skull-fuck you!" His performance here was mostly improvised (extremely rare for a Kubrick film), and has become the template for all Gunnery Sergeants after him (remember Jarhead?).

Vincent D'Onofrio as Private Pyle makes you want to sympathize with him. When a soldier snaps out of his sanity, it is never his fault. It's always the war, or the top brass, or the system's fault. Never the soldier. But, short as it is, D'Onofrio's screen time is possibly the heaviest in the whole film. Even heavier than the actual war scenes.

The beauty of Kubrick's directing comes out in the latter half of the film, when the troops are actually in Vietnam. Fluid and precise camera movements, plus perfect framing of the subjects---Stanley Kubrick really knows how to handle a scene. Every aspect of the film is under his watchful eye. The only drawback to Kubrick's filmmaking style is that it becomes too rigid. You can actually feel that there is no room for improvisation. The only exception, again, was Gunnery Sgt. Hartman.

There are a lot of films out there about the Vietnam war, but only a few good ones. Full Metal Jacket, like Platoon, are the few that stand out.

*some info from IMDb
pic from chessville.com

Full Metal Jacket. USA. 1987.

Rating: Eight and a half out of ten.



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