What the hell he gets out of that creepily Uncanny Valley Dreamworks predator fish-as-Mafia fantasia I truly do not know, but...oh, okay, all right, I know. It's yet another story about expectations vs. the difficulty of living up to them, as per hustler-y clownfish Oscar (Will Smith)'s ridiculous dreams of riches/fame gained through lying and vegetarian Great White Lenny (Jack Black)'s despair over whether his father Don Leno (Robert De Niro) will ever accept his natural inclination to pal around with his "food" and dress like a dolphin. Sort of like Madagascar, the movie he's currently trying (and failing) to love just as much, is about morality vs. instinct, and whether or not "natural" behaviour trumps learned behaviour, especially if it's in your nature to want to eat all your friends when removed from a situation where someone hands you steak every day for free.
"It's amazing that you can parse all these movies like this, and figure out what they're really about!" Cal's Speech Language pathologist told me, yesterday. "Yeah, well--he tends to watch things over and over, so if I couldn't, I think I would've gone crazy quite some time ago," I replied.
Today, meanwhile, I had my second session with the same physical trainer who taught Mom how to do "guy" push-ups. We're working on my abs and core, and also on opening up my back. It's amazing while you're in it, and you feel it for days afterwards. Well worth $120 for two hours a week, especially since I'm paying the SLP $135 for one, and not getting half as much out of it.;) (Cal is, though--that's the point of that exercise, entirely. As it should be.)
Anyhow. I promised sovay that I would talk about the three "war horror" films I watched in not-so-quick succession on...Monday night, I think. It's an odd little genre, by necessity--very specific in its interests, as well as its patterns. War is presented in all three as an innately immoral situation that we try to pretend has rules of the "follow these and you'll be okay!" variety, except (of course) that it really doesn't. But all three films are set in different eras and derive from slightly different cultural mixtures, so the ways in which this lesson gets put across tend to vary strikingly.
We began, for example, with R-Point, a Korean film set during the Vietnam War. South Korean soldiers, supporting the U.S. in Vietnam, are sent to investigate "Romeo point", an area where a whole platoon previously disappeared, yet has somehow continued sending radio messages from. The area proves to be a sort of historic dumping-ground for sorrow and misery--there was a battle/massacre when the Chinese invaded Vietnam, and all the bodies were thrown in a lake that was later drained, the land used to build a temple on; stones inscribed with Pinyan warn that "whoever has blood on his hands...will not return." "That's all of us," one soldier helpfully points out. Later, the French built a villa there for their soldiers to recuperate in between actions, but when everyone was killed by "insurgents" overnight, they pulled out. More recently, a U.S. Air Cav crew have been using it as their base of operations, stopping by briefly to tell the Koreans not to "touch [their] shit on the second floor", and taking bets on whether or not they'll still be there when they come back in a week.
What ensues is that most of the people we're introduced to in the first half-hour are, in fact, ghosts--that extra platoon member no one can recall having arrived with who "dies" in gory, unexpected fashion, after which no one can remember what he looked like; those two nice French soldiers who keep telling the platoon's radio expert that they'll come over and look in on him; the huge, genial black Air Cav captain; most definitely the pretty girl in a white ao dai who keeps passing by outside, who shares a face with not only a girl in the back of a French-era photo but also the V.C. sniper who tried to kill everybody when they were marching through a bamboo forest on their way in. Soldiers come to R-point, but they don't leave. The blood on their hands anchors them, eventually filling up their eyes 'til they can see nothing else, and turning them on each other.
Next up was The Bunker, a British film set during the last days of World War II, in which a squad of German soldiers fleeing from the American incursion takes refuge in the titular structure, only to discover it squats on a bunch of unfinished tunnels which have been dug right through the centre of what was once a Black Death-era plague pit. The interesting thing about The Bunker is that by the end, nothing which happens necessarily needs to be supernatural: could be combat fatigue, could be the weight of history, could be bad dreams and guilt over something that happened earlier/realizing you've been enabling mass slaughter of German citizens (though probably not the latter for at least one guy, a dude literally too crazy or possibly not Aryan enough for the S.S., who's making do with being high on benzedrine all the time and nit-picking everything the soldiers around him do).
After that, we checked out Deathwatch, which was made by the same guy who would go on to do Solomon Kane (hadn't remembered that). Set during World War I, it stars Jamie Bell as a sixteen-year-old British private and Andy Serkis as a complete berserker lunatic in a sheepskin vest, his belt bristling with "Hun" scalps. "Be a holiday, like Brighton," his sergeant says, to get everyone shuffling as they're checking/clearing out a forward German trench they've taken. "I went to Brighton once," Serkis replies. Sergeant: "Was it nice?" Serkis: "Killed a man there--and yeah, it WAS nice."
Probably the least interesting of the three, if only because it becomes fairly obvious what's going on early on in the action (for me, anyways--SPOILER: they may or may not be dead, having walked through a great white cloud of not-gas to get there and suddenly found night had turned to day, but they're definitely being tested as to where they'll end up next), the film is still sprinkled with images that pack an amazing punch. I'm particularly impressed with the moment that one guy realizes a mud-soaked "corpse" propped against the trench wall is A) alive and B) about to attack him, as well as the play-out of Laurence Fox's aristocratic Captain's complete classic shell shock emotional/mental breakdown. War really IS Hell!
Okay, back to it...
This entry was originally posted at http://handful-ofdust.dreamwidth.org/504