Sunday, April 08, 2007

Full Metal Handjob

1987, USA
Stanley Kubrick
DVD

It's a shame that the best Vietnam war movie ever made will forever be known for popularizing the term "reach-around". I suppose I'd rather hear people quoting this than Scarface, but it's still reducing a complex, realistic meditation on war to a fag joke you can tell at a frat party. And while the first half of the film, the legendary boot camp sequence starring R. Lee Ermey as the foul-mouthed drill sergeant, is the more entertaining part of the film, it means nothing without the portion of the film that takes place in Vietnam. Both sections mirror each other, ending with a gunshot and a loss of innocence, and that similarity, that one shared point of reference, is what pulls the somewhat amorphous form of the film into some sort of structure.

Full Metal Jacket unfolds anecdotally, the only backbone to the scenes the linearity of time. Scenes are disconnected vignettes, pages from a diary, except instead of being full of breathless closet make-out confessions or details of an awkward handjob in a public park, it's details of watching a close friend's intestines pour out over their combat boots; dispatches from Vietnam, written in blood and stamped in gunpowder, and thankfully full of enough references to sodomy and fucking Asian prostitutes to make it appealing to young males who like NASCAR, as well as people who can spell things.


Wonder Woman: Warrior Princess, Queen of the Amazons, and Lord of the Retarded.


It's actually a fairly significant achievement, to have created a film that's appealing to both the mentally capable demographic and people who got sports scholarships to state universities. That's a broad spectrum. Normally, one could only please both groups by running an episode of Ali G in the corner of a screen playing 2001: A Space Odyssey. Nevertheless, Kubrick manages it, getting both demographics off at once, proving that not only is he a master of film, he's clearly a master of the reach-around, as well.

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8 Comments:

Blogger Squish said...

?! Was this actually a real review? What the jumpin hell are you doing? I like!

1:27 p.m.  
Blogger James said...

I've always found the stucture of Full Metal Jacket a bit of a problem, maybe because it violates the "three act" rule that so enthralls Hollywood. Maybe the biggest difficulty is that the first half is much better than the second half.

Round my parts, the "love you long time" line is more famous than the "reach-around". (Apparently this was an ad-lib. Kubrick turned to one of the crew and asked "what's a reach-around?" with the reply "think about it, Stanley.")

I can't rate this as the "best" Vietnam picture, mainly because the depiction of Vietnam is so wildly inauthentic, and I thought that even before I'd been there.

Stanley could do almost anything, but he couldn't turn England into Vietnam.

Damn, my first post on this site, and I can't even think of a weak joke.

1:15 a.m.  
Blogger Fatman said...

I can't really imagine R.Lee Ermey not playing a foul-mouthed drill sergeant though. I know he sometimes breaks the mould by playing foul-mouthed lieutenants, foul-mouthed generals and the odd colonel or two. But generally just sergeants. It's what he's good at.

(My other favourite typecast would have to be the late, great J.T.Walsh who made a career out of playing scumbags.)

3:18 a.m.  
Blogger Randolph said...

Well authenticity aside, Full Metal Jacket is (IMO) certainly the most enjoyable Vietnam movie to watch. I'm happy to see this film get one of the most positive reviews ever posted on 16mm Shrine.

2:35 p.m.  
Blogger batturtle said...

I re-watched Full Metal Jacket a lil' while back, and was surprised to see that Jayne from Firefly was in it. I had forgotten that.

And not only was he in it...but he kindah' seemed to be the same character.

Kuberick ripped off Joss Whedon.

10:11 p.m.  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

Yeah. Whenever I get tired, real reviews come out. Strange that I get less cranky the sleepier I am.

7:57 a.m.  
Blogger Freudian Slip said...

This is one of those movies that is timeless. I love it!
Matt

8:58 p.m.  
Anonymous the sneering (homo-phobic) snob said...

hey...you goddamned pansy, when i reach around its to rub a girls clitoris red raw, and finger out her twat, while i`m giving her the buggering of a lifetime, because i`m a rampantly heterosexual man, not some dirty pansy queer bastard, all right !!!, so from now on keep all your woofter, poofter, queer, pansy, fairy crap to yourself, ALRIGHT YOU BLOODY DIRTY FRUIT !!!.

2:24 p.m.  

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