As I’ve been selecting movies for this Old Movies / Young Eyes feature, I have been trying to hit a lot of the movies that more experienced (*cough* older *cough*) friends have been suggesting I need to watch. Strangely enough, it seems that many of the movies from the 70s (it hasn’t been intentional that all the movies I’ve written up so far are from the 70s, by the way) that people have been recommending also happen to be the same movies that are slated for remakes. I guess there’s always money in taking what was old and making it new again; which coincidentally is a big part of the premise in Logan’s Run. And, of course, IMDB says there is a remake in progress for 2012.
Like any good dystopian movie, Logan’s Run opens up by zooming in on a beautiful futuristic world, showing a city inside of a bubble with lots of strange, advanced architecture and a slick-looking monorail system of some sort winding through the landscape. Continue reading “Logan’s Run”
This video footage of Kesennuma getting leveled is both awe-inspiring and deeply saddening.
Aside from trying not to let coverage of the earthquake/tsunami aftermath get me down too much, I haven’t been up to much lately other than embarking on a couple new adventures: watching old movies (and even an occasional new one) to write up for PopBunker.net, and tutoring at a nearby middle school once a week. The tutoring gig, which is almost more like a classroom aide sort of thing, is quite an experience. It’s definitely given me a newfound respect for schoolteachers. So far I’ve been going in to tutor for an hour before work every Monday, but in April I’ll also be going on Thursday afternoons for an after-school writing workshop thing. I’m looking forward to it – teaching sure seems to be a great way to learn.
Because Red Dawn was made in 1984, it butts right up against my pre-1985 movie prejudice. Unfortunately, I had no idea before I watched it just how much it would butt up against my “right-wing fantasy flick” prejudice, or my “horribly written plot and dialogue” prejudice, or my “amazingly bad acting” prejudice. Yes, this movie was basically a nightmare. A nightmare eerily reminiscent of when I was a second-grader delivering newspapers in a small Midwestern town, wondering if and when I was going to see a mushroom cloud in the distance, signaling the onset of World War III. Yes, my Republican dad hyped up the cold war enough to leave me suspecting that the bombs were going to start raining down at any given moment. Having seen this movie, I now understand where he might’ve gotten that idea.
True to its right-wing roots, Red Dawn doesn’t mess around with a bunch of foreplay—it gets straight to the action in under two minutes, with commies raining down from the sky to wreak havoc on the unsuspecting Colorado town of Calumet. Among the first people killed in the attack sequence are the black schoolteacher and the father of young Arturo—proof that it’s not a good idea to have too much skin pigmentation when you’re living in a conservative fantasy world. The movie is also very quick to demonstrate its anti-gun control stance, as the camera focuses on a “You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands” bumper sticker just before it pans to show one of the godless pinkos pulling a gun from the cold, dying hand of an American Good Ol’ Boy. The movie leaves no question as to exactly what kind of people want to come take your guns away.
Patrick Swayze rescues his tiger-blooded brother and a handful of other kids from the high school, and they stop at a gas station just outside of town to load up on guns, arrows, Wheaties, and Coca-Cola before heading off into the mountains to set up camp. Now I’d love to recount the gruesome details of the five or so months of communist occupation that ensue, but then I’d feel just as bad about doing that to you fine readers as I do for making my friends sit through all excruciating 114 minutes of this. The short version is: they take on a couple high school girls (Marty McFly’s mom and Ferris Bueller’s sister) and then start an elite paramilitary operation—“The Wolverines,” after their high school football team—to fight the Cuban/Soviet regime that has taken over their hometown and apparently other parts of the United States. Eventually they’re joined by a true military man—a Texan—and he helps to galvanize their efforts, until he gets killed. I won’t spoil it by saying how many of the good guys die, but all of them do. Much like you would expect from a severely repressed imagination, there’s little more than low-level sexual tension between the guys and the girls, with the exception of the crazier of the two girls, who ends up having some fairly creepy interactions with the Texas ranger. It probably is worth mentioning, though, that Swayze does go on to make Dirty Dancing with one of the girls before Sheen dazzles her in a police precinct waiting area in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. (<–click that link, you won’t regret it.)
Part of my inspiration for watching this movie was that I recently heard that the remake, due to be released sometime this year, was originally shot to have China figure as the communist enemy but has been modified to feature North Korea as the invaders. Of course, it’s a little ridiculous to think that North Korea (population = Texas, GDP = Vermont) could mount any kind of respectable invasion of the US. (Nuclear combat might be a different story…? Interestingly, the [fake] trailer for the remake fixed the factual error from the original trailer. Did anyone else catch it?) Something that the war hawks who thrive on this type of movie don’t seem to notice, though, is that the movie has a subtext that would seem to undermine US foreign policy. The Wolverines are insurgents battling the occupation of an invading power – “Because we live here!” Apparently some folks don’t see an inconsistency with labeling insurgents overseas fighting against US occupation as terrorists. Oh, right – the insurgents here are good ol’ down home football-playing Amurricans.
The film I chose for this week’s installment of “Old Movie / Young Eyes” has some sentimental value to me, asSlaughterhouse-Five was the first Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. book I ever read. It was a suggestion I got as a high school freshman from the hip young English teacher I idolized, who played in a punk band and told me about all the cool books and movies to check out. Reading Slaughterhouse-Five, I was immediately hooked by Vonnegut’s style. In the next year or so I read Cat’s Cradle, Breakfast of Champions, and Welcome to the Monkey House, and I’ve read many others since then. I didn’t even realize there was a film adaptation of Slaughterhouse-Five until I noticed it among the watch instantly titles in Netflix sometime in the last year or two.
Anyone who has read the book surely recalls the non-linear temporal arrangement of the story, and the film adaptation does a nice job of capturing that early on. In the opening scene, we see a woman running frantically around the outside of a nice middle-class home, shouting for her dad to come to the door. We then see Billy Pilgrim (Michael Sacks) sitting at a typewriter, writing a letter to the editor of the Ilium newspaper, explaining that he his “unstuck in time,” and that he pops into different places in his life with no control over the phenomenon. To illustrate the point, we then see the middle-aged Billy look up from the typewriter to see that he’s lost in a snowy German countryside watching tanks pass by. He flips back to his seat at the typewriter, and he goes on to write that he has traveled to a planet called Tralfamadore. Continue reading “Slaughterhouse-Five”
I’m still amazed at the thought of an earthquake that strong striking just about anywhere. I saw something on twitter about it shortly after it happened, and so I was up very late Thursday night watching the coverage. I sent Yuka a message right away to let her know that my thoughts are with her family, even if there’s not much I can do to help.
Early the following morning, Mom called from Northern California, where she was finishing her visit with Tim, Yasu, and the boys. She said that Yasu’s family is all fine, as Okinawa is pretty far removed from the epicenter. It turns out my little brother Bob was in Japan when the quake happened, though he says he didn’t feel anything. He’s in Iwakuni, which is still on the main island, but is very far south of Sendai. It’s important to note, by the way, that Maruis okay.
I’m saddened by the tragic loss of life and horrific damage in Sendai and surrounding areas. As many others have already said, the building codes in Japan surely saved countless lives and prevented the damage from being far more extensive. Let’s just hope their nuclear power plants don’t negate that.
Before I begin talking about this film, I should probably take a moment to introduce myself. I’m a newbie writer here at Pop Bunker, and I’m very excited about the opportunity to toss some ideas out into the pop culture discourse. I was also intrigued to see the “Old Movies / Young Eyes” category on the site. As someone born in 1980, I often joke to some of my older friends that I shouldn’t be bothered about movies made before 1985 or so. That being the case, when one of my friends recommended that I watch Westworlda couple years ago, I shrugged the suggestion off with great ease. But when another friend held the DVD out and offered to loan it to me this week, I figured it might be worth at least one viewing.
Long before Michael Crichton took us to Jurassic Park to get torn up by dinosaurs, and before he patched us up in the ER, he offered the chance for “the vacation of the future, today,” through Westworld’s fictional travel agency, “Delos.” The film opens with a promotional video for Delos, in which a mildly creepy host asks person after person returning from their $1000/day vacation whether they enjoyed it. Each of the interviewees is still reeling from the experience and describes which of the fantasy vacation options they chose–Medieval World, Roman World, or the film’s namesake Westworld. This commercial is one of the rare glimpses we get of the larger futuristic society in which the story takes place, aside from the posh “hovercraft” ride our protagonists take to reach their vacation destination and the peeks we get of the highly-skilled employees responsible for keeping the resort in working order. It might be a bit presumptuous to try to read some sort of class commentary into that, so I won’t bother. Continue reading “Westworld”