The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

An ongoing survey of the Criterion Forum membership to create lists of the best films of each decade and genre.
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matrixschmatrix
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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#401 Post by matrixschmatrix » Sun Jul 30, 2017 9:03 pm

Rambo is interestingly... somewhat less reactionary, politically, than its immediate predecessors (in part because it would be almost impossible to be moreso) while also being cartoonishly violent enough to swap out individual kills with those shown in Punisher: War Zone with only a change in color timing. In addition to the standard Rambo homoerotic knifings and things, there's a Roadhouse style throat ripping, Rambo rather implausibly shooting the driver of a vehicle with a mounted chaingun in the bed (one would think it would not be set up to aim in that direction?) a dude getting arrowed on to a landmine, and a general sense of never missing a chance to have a red mist of blood escaping from someone's body. The fact that all of the violence is still directed against non white people, in service of what is essentially a white missionary group, is still pretty unsettling, though if I recall correctly the designated organization providing the piles of bodies is (was?) a legitimately awful right wing military junta.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#402 Post by Mr Sausage » Sun Jul 30, 2017 9:45 pm

domino harvey wrote:Didn't the trailer show Rambo tearing off someone's head? I do have it on Blu-ray as the other half of a double feature with one of the other Rambo movies. I've had it up for sale on Amazon for a couple years and still no takers. Don't tempt me to actually watch the damned thing while it's still in my house!
It showed him outright punching someone's head off. Turns out they just hadn't CGI'd the machete blade in yet.
matrixschmatrix wrote:Rambo is interestingly... somewhat less reactionary, politically, than its immediate predecessors (in part because it would be almost impossible to be moreso) while also being cartoonishly violent enough to swap out individual kills with those shown in Punisher: War Zone with only a change in color timing. In addition to the standard Rambo homoerotic knifings and things, there's a Roadhouse style throat ripping, Rambo rather implausibly shooting the driver of a vehicle with a mounted chaingun in the bed (one would think it would not be set up to aim in that direction?) a dude getting arrowed on to a landmine, and a general sense of never missing a chance to have a red mist of blood escaping from someone's body. The fact that all of the violence is still directed against non white people, in service of what is essentially a white missionary group, is still pretty unsettling, though if I recall correctly the designated organization providing the piles of bodies is (was?) a legitimately awful right wing military junta.
Yeah, it's using the real-life atrocities of some current paramilitary government. One of the more interesting things about the film is how it actually critiques the other three, with Rambo finally admitting to himself that he doesn't really kill for truth, justice, morality, or patriotic sacrifice. He kills solely for himself, because he wants to. It actually admits the fundamentally selfish nature of Rambo's bloodlust, and indeed the reason he gets involved in this fight is exclusively to help a woman he likes, and no other reason. Of course that doesn't stop the movie from going to extra lengths to inform the viewer of the barbarities perpetrated by this real-life government, somewhat muddying the point.

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domino harvey
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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#403 Post by domino harvey » Fri Aug 25, 2017 1:49 am

Five came back from the unwatched field:

Father Goose (Ralph Nelson 1964) Grizzled boater Cary Grant is bamboozled into manning a remote pacific island to watch for Japanese aircraft in WWII, ends up through Hollywood magic forced to share his island retreat with Leslie Caron’s schoolmarm and her seven charges, all preteen girls. If that sounds like a bad sitcom, well, of course it does, because that’s all this this. The clashing of Grant and Caron is never funny and since both characters are so obnoxious, their eventual coupling is one of those “You could both do better” scenarios. This somehow won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, because giving Grant a tic like wanting to drink scotch and mentioning it every thirty seconds indicates a mastery of screenplay composition. (To be fair, it was up against one of the most bizarre lineups imaginable: A Hard Day’s Night, One Potato, Two Potato, the Organizer, and L'Homme de Rio)

the Key (Michael Curtiz 1934) William Powell waltzes into a happy marriage against the backdrop of the British occupation of Ireland in 1920 in this truly terrible film. If you are a fan of characters stopping everything to talk in the most dunderheaded back and forths of great swaths of dull dialogue, good news! No earthly idea what the title to this even means in relation to anything that happens in the film. Forget metaphor, there’s literally not a single actual key present either.

Never So Few (John Sturges 1959) Hard to believe Frank Sinatra’s reputation for coolness withstood this look:

Image

Sinatra is the American Captain helping the OSS fight the Japanese in Burma, an assignment which also involves romancing Gina Lollobrigida for unconvincing reasons. This is dreadful, dead-eyed stuff, the worst kind of post-war cinema without any real bite or insight. Steve McQueen has charisma to spare in an early role, but his character is as uninteresting and cliched as everything else here. Luckily Sturges and McQueen will fare better together in the Great Escape. If you want to see the perils of alcoholism, watch Brian Donlevy’s performance in the last ten minutes of this movie as the man struggles to just say his lines in the right order and at the right times. Truly depressing.

I’m not sure if this is inherent in the source or just a quirk of Warners’ release, but what passes for bad language is (poorly) censored in the film, though this only amounts to a few skipped “damns" and an utterance of "crap," if I recall correctly. Not exactly a desecration of great art, but odd nonetheless...

Too Late the Hero (Robert Aldrich 1970) Pyrrhic Pacific War tale with American communications specialist Cliff Robertson forced into combat duty with a ragtag group of Brits, led by an ineffectual Denholm Elliott and scheming medic Michael Caine. Aldrich is comically overrated as an auteur (It occurred to me while suffering through Whatever Happened to Baby Jane recently that the rope I'm willing to extend the director of Kiss Me Deadly is short enough that it was already fully uncoiled and gone long before I realized), but this was a lot better than I expected it to be, especially in how it avoids easy moral designation and gives its central protagonists a range of positive and negative markers. The time spent to humanize the antagonist is also fairly progressive and intriguing, especially considering his exit. There is one weirdly anachronistic moment in which Elliott chastises “longhaired conscientious objectors,” but I found little to no relevancy to Vietnam in this film, which for all its quandaries seems uninterested in critiquing military action itself.

the Wind and the Lion (John Milius 1975) Sean Connery’s Noble Arab kidnaps Candice Bergen (still in her paint drying mode) while Brian Keith’s Teddy Roosevelt confers with John Huston in America in this muddled and unnecessary desert rehash of dopey tropes and dull action tics. Precious little about this film is smart, but there is a remarkably stupid moment near the end when Bergen, now fully Stockholm Syndromed, holds the American cavalry hostage at gunpoint in order to free Connery, and the military leader’s response to this insurrection is, “Gosh, why didn’t you say so? We’ll join ya!” Vom.

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fiddlesticks
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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#404 Post by fiddlesticks » Fri Aug 25, 2017 9:02 pm

Having skimmed through this thread tonight, I am surprised to learn that, as far as I could tell, nobody voted for or even mentioned Dick Powell's The Enemy Below (1957), easily my favorite submarine film. A tense back-and-forth thriller of an American destroyer escort and German U-boat hunting one another, told from the alternating perspectives of the "feather merchant" American skipper (Robert Mitchum), trying to win the confidence of his crew while appearing to be unconcerned about it, and the battle-weary duty-before-ideology German captain (Curt Jurgens) and his aide and confidante (Theodore Bikel.) As this is a fairly well-known film, I suppose it's not been overlooked by this forum's members so much as, shall we say, not beloved, but I like it marginally more than Destination Tokyo and quite a bit more than the clunky Run Silent, Run Deep. Had I been around and participating at the time, I expect this would have been in my top 10.

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domino harvey
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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#405 Post by domino harvey » Fri Aug 25, 2017 9:21 pm

I've seen it and while I found it interesting in context of Hollywood allowing for nuanced views of German officers given that enough time had passed for such takes, the film doesn't work all that well for me outside of the historical aspect. I do think it's more successful than the twistier version of these liberties, Morituri, a few years later. However, with Operation Pacific still fresh (or should that be fetid) in my mind, both are certainly masterpiece submarine films in comparison. There's an unfortunate moment in Operation Pacific when the crew sits down to watch Destination Tokyo and John Wayne gently mocks the "Hollywood" nature of that film while sitting inside the world's biggest crock of a Hollywood sub film!

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bottled spider
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Re: The War List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#406 Post by bottled spider » Tue Dec 26, 2017 4:18 am

The Sky's the Limit (Edward H. Griffith, 1943) One can only assume Griffith was in the pay of the Germans when he made this. Certainly Astaire ought to have been kneecapped for it.

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