Monday, September 14, 2009

the deer hunter

that trailer is basically the entire movie in three minutes, all linear, pretty much even gives away the end.
well honestly it doesn't mean anything unless you've seen the film, that's why i'm a believer that there is no such thing as a spoiler, if all a film has going for it is some big reveal, then it's not a movie worth watching, let's be honest, how many times have you seen the six sense? once was too many times.
fight club on the other hand is a movie i've watched countless times, the movie isn't about the reveal that "jack" is tyler, what the means and sets into action is important sure, but it's not the only thing fight club has going for it.

also it's interesting to note how much trailers have changed over the decades. after seeing "the deer hunter" flashed over the screen that often, i kind of want to shoot myself in the head. i know repetition is the key to memory, but YOU'RE OVERDOING IT. annoying me isn't a good way to get me to sit through a three hour drama.

a negative review i came across of this movie stated that it was in fact, three hours too long. harsh but not without truth, this movie is long, and incredibly slow paced.

the movie introduces you to the characters, all american joes, they work in a steel mill, they love drinking, hunting, being assholes, getting married, oh yes and leaving for war! so we meet the three main characters, nick (walkens) a bit of an introvert, he likes trees, dates linda (streep) and lives with michael (di niro). michael, who fancies linda, is a bit of a nut before the war, and enjoys streaking. the third character of importance is steve, who really doesn't have a defined character, he's mostly a macguffin, but hey, he's getting married and going to war!

so since steve, michael, and nick are getting read to go to vietnam the wedding party is held at the veterans hall. the importance of this is a random green beret fresh out vietnam wanders in for a drink at the bar, the guys try to talk to him, and much to their annoyance he ignores them, however when he finds out they are heading out for vietnam, he's able to give them "fuck it."

after the wedding the group of friends go out hunting, sans steve of course, here we see more of michael being a nut. while it makes him look like an asshole here, it's pretty much what saves their asses over in vietnam. the hunting scenes are shot with lush colour, in contrast to the washed out and dirty looks of where they live, and the score is way overblown here. i didn't notice it in the rest of the movie but the hunting scenes were just trying too hard to be dramatic.
well good ol' michael gets his deer in one shot and they go back to the bar to celebrate. this is the last time like this before the three leave for war, it goes from celebration to quiet contemplation as one of the friends plays some chopin on the piano in a scene devoid of dialogue.

next we cut war and all it's horrors, bombing, fragging innocents, flamethrowers, and overkill. at some point not seen, michael, steve, and nick are all captured and being held prisoner by some guys that like to make their captives play russian roulette. eventually and michael and steve are pitted against eachother and steve chickens out, getting himself thrown into a pit full of rats and dead bodies. then it's nick and michael, michael decides to up the ante to three bullets, and after a few tense clicks and slaps from the gaurds, the two of them manage to catch their captures off guard. after a shootout the two escape with a recsued steve in tow. they manage to get seen by a helicopter who rescues nick, but steve is too weak to hold on and michael goes after him, eventually michael gets steve some help, but now they're all separated.

now the movie follows nick for awhile, he's still shaken from everything, and believing his friends to be dead. he decides to wander the red light district of saigon and comes across an underground circuit of russian rulette. he decides that since he has nothing to lose he might as well join in. as luck would have it, michael also happened to be at this wonderful gathering, but can't get nick's attention before he leaves with some french bookie.

the next scenes are michael back in america. he avoids his welcome back party, and prefers staying in hotels as opposed to his own home, which linda has been living in since him and nick left. of course the two of them eventually hook up in hopes to comfort eachother.
now comes another hunting scene, micheal goes off on his own and comes across a buck, he can't bring himself to shoot it and purposely misses. okay? later at camp he sees his friend acting like a drunken idiot with his pistol, so he grabs it and says "you want to play?" he takes out all the bullets except for one, spins it and squeezes the trigger while it's against his friend's head. empty chamber. in disgust he runs outside and tosses the gun into the night.
not much else happens until michael finds out steve is back as well, only in the veterans hospital. once he finally works up the nerve to go, we see steve, missing both legs and paralyzed in one arm. steve the living plot device, reveals he's been getting large sums of money from saigon fairly regularly, michael realizes this must be nick's winnings. after making steve leave the hospital he heads off to saigon to rescue his friend.

the contrast of the two visits to saigon is interesting, before it was foreign but not foreboding, now it's downright hell. so that's what war does? go figure.
michael manages to track down the sleezy frenchman the got nick into the russian roulette circuit, and they eventually find nick. nick at this point is gone, he doesn't recognize michael, he's been living in a haze of drugs and death. michael faces off against him in a game, trying to get him to snap out of it, get him to come home, nick finally does come to, but all he can do is repeat what michael told him when they first went hunting "one shot" bullet in the brain pan, squish.

the movie ends after nick's funeral back home, all the friends gathered in the bar, morosely singing "god bless america"

overall i enjoyed it, it was intense, striking, had great acting, and some great cinematography. it wasn't perfect though, as mentioned it seems needlessly long, the score was overdone at parts, and the the whole underground russian roulette circuit was a bit unbelievable, or that nick would became some sort of cult hero of it anyway. it does a lot of things well, the characters all seem real, they live in the same world we do, and parts of it are just beautiful. it's not a movie i'd watch over and over, but it was definitely worth the watch

four out of five

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