Siskel and Ebert Movie Reviews

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4 thoughts on “Full Metal Jacket, Spaceballs, Roxanne, Benji the Hunted, 1987

  • On this show, Gene put Roger to shame, especially for his thumbs down to Full Metal Jacket and and his thumbs up to Benji the Hunted. Very funny stuff. Critical consensus favored Gene heavily on both movies.

    Roxanne was very funny and Spaceballs was mildly amusing, IMO.

    • I agree with Roger on Full Metal Jacket. The first half with the training is great, but when they get to Vietnam, it isn’t as interesting.

  • I’m kind of in between Gene and Roger. FMJ was the film that introduced me to Kubrick and if you asked me at age 18 what my favorite film was…chances are you’d get that answer. But as the years go by it’s the only Kubrick film that, for me, doesn’t get better when I revisit it nor does it even hold its own. There are a lot of things to like about FMJ, some things to love, but it really is highly problematic and ranks low compared to his other work. The first act still holds up but its brilliance lies in Kubrick’s eye, R. Lee Ermey, and to a lesser degree Vincent D’onfrio. That’s about it. I never found Modine to be much more than a link between FMJ’s two acts. His performance is never all that convincing. I’m definitely in the minority in that I think the second act is pretty good and in some ways extraordinary. Once again there are no characters or performances I find compelling, although I did like Joker’s CO in scenes inside the journalist’s hooch. The true strength of the second half is its craft. It has a look and feel to it that is totally unique to this film. Kubrick made it in England and used a massive derelict gasworks in the east end of London as Hue City. This is no mean feat. What Roger doesn’t seem to grasp is that yes, in Vietnam there was urban combat and Hue was I think the third of fourth biggest city over there. Criticizing FMJ for not taking place in a jungle or rice paddy is not valid. Kubrick’s Vietnam has a very peculiar but compelling look to it. Using hundreds of palm trees shipped from Spain and fixing a half demolished gasworks with period appropriate Vietnamese signage and lattices, it creates a very surreal and cockeyed replacement. The environment kinda seems like Vietnam, but not really. Kubrick’s Hue is an extraordinary accomplishment but, at best, only vaguely similar to the real city. It’s a screw loose looking Vietnam, but to me therein lies its power. The smashed up buildings, the sick looking palm trees, the overcast sky all add to the visual power of FMJ. But at the end of the day it’s not enough to make the second act work. While I don’t think it’s fair to compare FMJ to Platoon, the latter is a much better film in more than a few ways. Oliver Stone creates a coherent narrative that has something to say to its audience. It also has tragically convincing characters. Although if FMJ was released before Platoon, and it almost was, I wonder how that would have turned out.
    Some people are able to draw a deeper meaning from FMJ but I’ve never been able to figure out what it could be. It’s a deeply confused story, almost as if Kubrick was trying to find a film in the editing room. That being said, this film deserved to be analyzed based on what it is, not on what Roger wanted it to be. The idea that perhaps needs to be embraced is that FMJ may not be Vietnam but it is very much Stanley Kubrick’s Vietnam

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