Captain Jack

Thinking Like Captain Jack

Pirates of the Carribean has no plot; it does have Johnny Depp, amongst others. Pennelope Cruz acts postmodern. Jeffrey Rush’s pirate seems 1950’s-greed, shough, and evil. Keith Richards never went to the Fountain of Youth.The Brits and the Spanish armada. What’s the difference between pirate and a privateer? Ok. What is the difference between a banker, the Federal Reserve, Goldman Sacks, and the Congress? Wait. So, you don’t want to know when you will die, eh. You live closer to the present than most.

Stripes Again and Yet

Just bought Apple TV. Search not as expansive as I would have liked. But there are plenty of movies I have wanted to watch which I didn’t want to spend the money to rent and weren’t worth the hassle of entering them into Netflix que debates with Sharon. Streaming screams out for filmfiles, even if I couldn’t find Mildred Pierce. Only need to watch five or six movies a week to pay for the device in a reasonable time. We can do it with no problem. And, there is no late fee or crazed drives to return rentals.

As for Stripes, you should be ready for a bumpy ride. Great to reacquaint with early Murray, Harold Rambis, and the late, great John Candy. Warren Oates brings generational glue, anchoring the tale for the WWII and Korean Vets. Listed as a comedy, the absence of a conditioning word like “black” deprives the flick of legitimacy.  The first half is funny and sexy; the second is scary.

Murry and his buddy can’t handle life. Goofballs and slackers, they enlist into the Army for a European vacation, training, and some benefits. Some still follow their path, earning $20,00 or more as an enlistment bonus, a sum that would require some to work four jobs in a week to accrue. They end up in a troop of misfits let by Oates. Afraid to be sent back to 9 to 5, and after a shot to the bread basket by Oates, they work the troop into shape and earn an assignment to a special forces team whose task it is to test a new high tech tank disguised as an RUV. To further the romance of  service, they team up with two more qualified MPs who happen to be female and whisk them off in the vehicle for a tryst. While screwing, the home team thinks they have been kidnapped and go off to free them. The rescue team gets captured and the slackers then have to rescue them, starting a minor war with an unnamed enemy (Joe Flaherty), smite them, and return heroes.

This movie speaks to our worst dreams. Metaphorically, the US Army does what it wants, bringing its people into places where they may not be wanted. The officers come from a privileged class, educated, and clueless, charged with overseeing members of the underclass whom they send into battle willing to risk the lives of other but not their own. Both sides party without regard to the customs of  the places they inhabit, ignorant of the possible consequences, while remaining blind and deaf to the real purpose of  their undefined missions. Assume the tank works. Certified, it becomes a superior killing machine. No one wants that responsibility. Don’t explain the mission. Just tell me what to do.

The consequences of their conduct goes unquestioned. Force will cure any missteps. If captured and they get tortured, a act of the heathen enemy that could later be justified by invasion, assuming they cannot be traded for our hostages. Civilian casualties or the accidental destruction of property can be fixed with post-war reparations. And the players, they are are rejects who couldn’t make it elsewhere and who can be sold on the Army life, sir, as much because they don’t have anything else going on in their lives as that they have ideosyncrasies which can be translated into killing, fighting, and destroying skills. We hope at the end of the movie that this is how it used to be. What could be bad. They could be in jail. Now, you can even use enlistment as a get out of jail card, so long as you haven’t lost the ability to carry a gun.

Then they make them heroes and give them medals for winning a war they started.

Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds

The Birds opened this semester’s presentation by Access Cinema in Hinesburg. Very challenging list of films on Ken Peck’s list. Engaging discussion after the movie. Sixteen signed up. Ken wants the entire auditorium filled. Audacious expectations. And, I don’t think watching a movie in such an overwhelming venue will be fun or enlightening if so many people are watching.

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Fritz Lang at Fleming

To make a relationship work, you need to have things in common with your companion, otherwise you don’t have anything to talk about and you don’t need to be together. Sharon and I share film in common. Luckily, we both like film noir. Otherwise, we have lots of conflicting tastes. You could not guess correctly, if you tried who likes what.

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We Need Starman

"You are a strange species. Unlike any other, you are at your best when things are worst."

“You are a strange species. Unlike any other, you are at your best when things are worst.” Not sure I agree with him. The tougher it gets, the more right wing conservative, stingy, and hateful people seem to become. The government becomes less creative. The people become more fearful and protective. If a good alien like Starman would land in Wisconsin tomorrow, the reception no different than what happens here. The Government would try to capture him. Not realizing he had transformed himself, but still possessed other worldly powers, they’d nuke him just to be sure he could not spread his seeds or undefined evil intentions.  When he didn’t die, although much of cheese land would have been destroyed, that being the price of eliminating someone you don’t understand, Barry could meet with him, seeking an answer to the leak in the Gulf. Rahm could send Bill to arrange the meet and suggest there could be a job in it if he stayed, especially if he became a Democrat. We certainly are a strange bunch, Starman!

Revisiting Jeff Bridges movies to understand and appreciate his longevity and better understand my affection for him. Praise be to Netflix. I began with Last Picture Show and In Search of America, but not here. This movie made in 1984, stands the test of time without much stress. Appropriate year for such a flick, too. How many sci-fi romantic road movies are there? Just him and Karen Allen. Not much dialogue; lots of ballet. Jeff  is as innocent here as Lebowski, an outsider with more questions about how we creatures of the earth survive, wanting to learn how to do so. He figures out quite quickly that we operate on a simple plane, oblivious to our responsibilities our surroundings, and especially oblivious to the rest of the universe. He just want to survive and get out of here.

So innocent and awkward, he has no idea who he is as a member of the family of earth. Limited by the words he learns from a disc sent up with the Voyager in 1977 and the lessons he gets from the Karen Allen,  a woman of less than worldly experience whom he teams up when he lands in Wisconsin, of all places, after being shot down by whatever predecessor to Homeland Security was protecting US at the time. Lucky. Well, the beginning is good. Then it dissolves into an amalgam of others of the same ilk: The Day the Earth Stood Still, Close Encounters, and The Man Who Fell to Earth. Bridges, however, creates a unique character who is both all of the other leads and his own whimsical adaptation of a Brother From Another Planet.

A homophobic bathroom encounter seems well ahead of its time. Nothing bad, either, about driving from Wisconsin to Arizona with the Government on your tail. You know they will make it, right.

Not unlike Tarzan, he learns to eat, drive, shoot a gun and have sex, never exactly fitting in, though doing enough to get along and not get beat up or killed. Not sure why, except to satisfy audience demands, he saved a deer shot by a hunter using his magic powers or how he learns how to drive a car, but he does. He also should have given Allen all of his superior talents and knowledge rather than leaving it in the form of a magic ball for the kid he made with her when they fucked without contraception. Social responsibility hadn’t hit the galaxy yet. Now she has to raise the kid without means, ken, or understanding. And what does she say when asked who the father was?

As trite and repetitive as the oft told story is, Bridges plays it with softness and wonder. Kidlike, he just wants to learn as much as he can, knowing that he only has a three days to reconnect with his rescue ship or he will die. He takes her hostage, so she thinks. Then they fall in love, something kidnap victims have a tendency to do, that is just the American way. Stockholm Syndrome.

When Allen leads him across the plains in search of the rescue ship, he looks dumber than the rocks he slips and slides over. He trusts her to lead him to safety. Hell, she did it for Indy, right? He has to leave and he cannot take her-she would die on his planet. He has learned love, a particularly earthly emotion. At the end, he just wants to learn how to say “good-bye.” The ship arrives. He leaves. No sequel.

Dennis Hopper Is Dead

Not sure what movie to watch in his honor. Has to be Easy Rider? Saw it in Philly over summer recess, after graduating college and before leaving for law school. Not easy remembering who or what happened during that period except that the world seemed to change and he helped liberate me. He seemed so grown up and free of restraints. He also seemed so crazy, so against everything, so high all the time, and so nuts. I should have paid more attention to his act. Maybe I would have been better off had I been a Rebel Without a Cause.

Five wives. Art collector. Art maker. Actor. Director. Writer. Almost as interesting as Ben Franklin. He should be buried in Blue Velvet.