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Something Different.

I had to write this review for ‘Apocalypse Now’ for class.  I hope you like my observations.

Apocalypse Now

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Francis Ford Coppola’s controversial 1979 psychedelic reverie Apocalypse Now set amidst the horrific jungle of madness – the Vietnam War successfully presents the ‘conflict in every human heart… showing that good does not always triumph.Critics fail to realise that Coppola’s intention was to use the Vietnam War as a backdrop to explore identity and moral corruption. He intended to make ‘a film experience that would give its audience a sense of the horror, the madness, the sensuousness, and the moral dilemma… I wanted to go further, to the moral issues that are behind all wars’ (Hagen 1993, p230) and he has. Apocalypse Now is a surreal nightmare, delving into the hearts of morally conflicted men, a psychotic overload to the senses with a provocative anti-establishmentarian undertone.

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Apocalypse Now begins with an extraordinary juxtaposition, a cinematographically rich montage of explosives and iconic imagery representing the war in Vietnam. A stunning visual cataclysm superimposed over Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) conveying a man at war within himself. Kauffman argues that ‘the film falls short of what it might have been’ (Kauffmann, 2001) because of casting choices. Coppola’s first Willard was to be played by Harvey Keitel but after a few weeks of shooting, Coppola was ‘disappointed by Keitel’s characterisation of Willard, because ‘he found it difficult to play him as a passive onlooker.’ (Kauffmann, 2001)’ Even after firing Keitel and hiring Sheen to play Willard, critics still argue that Coppola’s lead character (Sheen) had a performance that was ‘pallid and flat’. (Kauffmann, 2001) This is a statement hardly credible after witnessing the convincing opening sequence of the film where Willard (Sheen) is a man lost, consumed by darkness and severely intoxicated.

Coppola uses soundtrack brilliantly thought-out the film and here ‘The End’ by The Doors provides and ethereal dark poetic soundscape as Willard drowns himself with alcohol, establishing him as a heavily conflicted character and hinting at the films impending descent into the surreal. ‘Kinder analyses the scene to show its importance in defining important structural elements for the whole film: the subjective point of view, a surrealistic or dream-like war, a dispassionate voice-over narration, a mad ritual of violence, and simultaneous layers of experience that tend to dissolve into obsessive images of heads, helicopters, fire and smoke.’ (Hagen, 1997, p. 233)

After this chaotic scene Willard is visited by two soldiers who escort him to a meeting with General Corman. Willard is played a voice recording of Walter E Kurtz (Marlon Brandon) an officer with a brilliant career who was to be arrested for murder. Willard is assigned a top secret mission to travel up the Do Lung River to Cambodia to assassinate Kurtz. Willard is mesmerised by the voice of Kurtz on the tape, ‘I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That’s my dream. That’s my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor, and surviving.’ Willard’s voice over reveals an increasing fascination with Kurtz and this builds tension as it becomes obvious that he is starting to understand and admire him and will be reluctant to complete his mission.

Willard now finds himself aboard The Chief’s (Albert Hall) boat a Navy PBR with a crew of several vital characters who greatly enrich the story of life on the boat, each vividly representing a different stereotype. ‘The crew was mostly just kids, rock and rollers with one foot in their graves’, Jay ‘Chef’ Hicks (Frederic Forrest) a man wrapped to tight for Vietnam, Lance B. Johnson (Sam Bottoms) a famous surfer from the beaches of southern LA and Tyrone ‘Clean, Mr Clean’ Miller (Lawrence Fishburne) a seventeen year old from some ‘South Bronx shithole’. These characters contribute greatly to the success of the film as most of the film is seen through the eyes of Willard and is mostly internal monologue developed though the voice-over.

Hagen Suggests ‘Satirical elements often sit uneasily with the realistic ones due to Coppola’s anti-documentary intent’ ( Hagen, 1993) and this is evident in the Kilgore sequence, as the crew arrives on a beach, with the sound of B-52 strikes in the distance, the sky an orange hazy blur and from the beach the distinct sound of chaos. Willard and the crew disembark and find themselves faced by a legion of fanatical film journalists one of whom is played by Coppola himself, urging them not to look at the cameras and to continue as normal.

Amidst the chaotic scene the infamous Colonel Kilgore (Robert Duvall) descends from a roiling black mess of clouds in a helicopter with ‘Death From Above’ emblazoned in red on its nose. Kilgore a man in his element then prances about the carnage with a deck of cards almost gleefully dealing them to corpses, acting gallantly toward a Viet Cong holding his guts in with a ‘pot lid’ until he notices Lance Johnson and anything remotely warlike is forgotten as the conversation turns to surfing. A cow is airlifted from the scene and a priest is giving a holy communion are images that convey the surreal nature of the experience.

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After discussing the mission, Kilgore is to escort the crew to Do Lung Delta. Coppola and crew have quite possibly orchestrated one of the most magnificent cinematographic moments in film history. Helicopters in perfect formation resembling a lethal swarm, descend upon what seems to be an innocent village – school children dressed in white, farmers and peasants going about their lives, all to the sounds of Wagner’s ‘Ride Of The Valkyries’ as their village is annihilated by the Americans. This is followed shortly after with Kilgore crouched on the beach and the memorable exclamation “You smell that? Do you smell that? Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning… Smelled like – victory.’ He then laments ‘Someday this war is gonna end’ Coppola has given us insight in to the mentality of the warmonger.

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Apart from the stunning cinematography and an intensely deep screenplay, the film as Kauffman suggests ‘falls short of what it might have been’ (Kauffman, 2001, p.23). Kauffman thought this largely due to the casting of Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando both of whom he felt were disappointing, but in retrospect it may have been the restraints and pressures put upon Coppola to finish the movie. His film was an incredible fifteen million dollars over budget and he had even mortgaged his own personal property as a guarantee to the films distribution company United Artists, so he could complete the film.

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Despite what some critics say about Apocalypse Now, if Coppola had the available time to fully realise his film it would have been undoubtedly a masterpiece. The film presented is visually stunning and extremely thought provoking, perhaps had it been released in a society where people could see beyond the Vietnam facade, they would see the underlying story of moral corruption in humanity.

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First of all if you haven’t watched this yet.  Do it.  I was so excited I cried a little. 

 

I only read two books in June.  I don’t know about you but this literally devastates me.  Although this despicable effort does have a great reason behind it,  I banned myself from any leisurely reading until all my final essays and assignments had been written and handed in.  I did cut it quite close, my final essay was finished around lunch time on the first marking day and luckily my teacher let me email it to her.  That could have been a disaster.  I did get reasonably good marks for it too, so I can’t complain there.

Admin at the campus said all of our results would be mailed to us during student vacation.  It is now week two and I have not received anything yet… I am waiting very patiently.  Maybe I should check online…

Ok I did.  Results aren’t bad either.  Even the subjects that I didn’t really apply myself are reasonably scored, both are over 70% so that my dear = CREDIT!.  I am really impressed with my statistics score – 93%, people.  That is pretty darn schweet considering I practically failed maths in high-school.  90% in literature (I promise I will pick up my game next semester, field of choice) and I am a smidge disappointed in my LALS score, as I really worked my butt off – 87% so I’m really going to have to impress that teacher next term.  But I suppose 87% is a good mark because she marks REALLY REALLY HARD! I need other peoples scores to compare myself.  I need a RANK!

My Eclipse Review

So one of my first things to do these holidays was to see Eclipse.  Don’t you dare judge me.  It was reasonable except for every scene being an EXTREME CLOSE UP!!  It almost made me puke.  Oh and the corny factor, cliché to the MAX! While watching, it brought up those intense feelings of wanting to smack down with Stephenie Meyer.  Ok so it’s a well known fact that the Twilight Saga is horrendous literature, poorly written and so on and so forth, right? Yes. Then later on while watching this… picture below (don’t judge me here either) 

Anyway I give 15 points to Taylor Lautner for stating the obvious ‘I’m hotter than you’ HA F*@#ing HA.  Other than that it was as cheesy and terrible as you’d expect, there were some fun action scenes, nothing amazing.  The wolves were hot, Emmet was hot and Edward was moody not worth drooling over.

It occurred to me, the literary injustice of it all.  Stephenie Meyer, instead of going down the path to greatness she stumbled on the sugar-coated, gooey caramel stuff, where everyone lives happily ever after.  As it is so wonderfully pointed out in Dawson’s Creek, the purpose of a love triangle is, that for every amount of happiness there are equal amounts of pain.  In my opinion Twilight could have been more ‘epic’ had she not taken the weak road. 
Instead of inventing some bogus character for Jacob to imprint on, she should have killed him or left him wallowing for all eternity or something remotely interesting . 

Good stories don’t have happily pukefest ever afters (except Harry Potter, but there was lots of pain and death so it deserved a light at the end of the tunnel) Scarlett does not live happily ever after with Rhett = great fiction, Heathcliff doesn’t really get Cathy = great fiction, Romeo and Juliet do not live happily ever after, Jack and Rose do not survive Titanic together, Gilbert Grapes mum dies! Dumbledore dies!, Dawson and Joey do not end up together (thank god).  You get the point right?  Jacob is the pain – he shouldn’t get such a cop out weakly written crap ending.  Did she run out of ideas or something?  Garrrrrr, I cannot keep going, I will get punchy!

Anyway so I’ve been working on my top secret crochet project which is a present for a baby that isn’t born (jess if you read this DON’T TELL ANYONE!!)
For people interested in crocheting the colours I’ve chosen (pictured below) are Panda Magnum Soft 8 Ply (they feel luscious to touch), colour numbers are blue-4603, green–1385, red–9275, orange-4422 and white-4600.

So far I’ve only completed two sets of squares and have started the third.  See.

If you want to make a blankie of your own Pip from Meet Me At Mikes has some pretty good tutorials.

Or you could check out these super colourful ones from Lucy at Attic24

I love these ladies.

 

 

Last night I picked this back up. 

I don’t really know if I like it, but it’s quite interesting.  Good arguments too.  Tell you when I’m finished. 

 

Pieces of today…

Gnarly Clouds of Doom!

Poisonous Delights

Charlie McDonnell has a new song about Monkeys

Finn wanted to be included, whilst I was outside taking pictures.  Yay, heart him everyone.  We love him.  Well I do.

 

June Book Wrap Up (late much and pathetic)

Radiant ShadowsDead in the Family
 

Books Read in June: 2
Authors Read in May: 2
Radiant Shadows – Melissa Marr
Dead In The Family – Charlaine Harris
Total Number of Pages in May: 651

Now I am going to go do stuff. 

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So the last week or more I have been totally immersed in the land of New Super Mario Brothers.  I both LOVE and HATE this game.

So as a distraction from this game and TAFE and assignments which I should be working on, rather than procrastinating.  I actually read and finished a Jane Austen book.   From the opening page to the very end, with out skipping any bits, as much as I wanted too.

I read Persuasion.

Because I’m quite lazy these days, I’m going to paste my poorly written Goodreads review of it right here.

This book started really slowly – I understand the first few chapters are ‘establishing chapters’ but they are boring as hell.

After almost quitting, I ploughed through and actually enjoyed the rest of the book. It was a very slow burn type romance, but satisfying all the same.

This was probably the only Jane Austen book, in which I haven’t seen the screen adaptation first. Maybe that’s why I actually finished it, because unlike the others I did not know the ending.

Anne Elliot is probably one of the nicest characters I’ve ever read, I’d personally invite her over for a pot of tea and a biscuit any time. I love that she is not superficial and I love her consistency.

Poor Anne being persuaded rather poorly from a parental figure in the beginning, I’m glad it all worked out nicely in the end.

Good ol’ Captain Wentworth, almost as silly, luckily coming to his senses and realising his severe retardation and pride issues and resolving his estrangement to Anne and rekindling his little love fire.

So really I haven’t got a lot to report.

I passed my Biology exam.  It was to easy, I got the second highest mark in the class.  “)  I have not written my report on the boring experiment we did though.

I have finished one of my thematic essays on one of two texts having the same theme.  Blech!

I am yet to hand out my survey on reading for statistics.

I have not done my Human Rights assignment yet.  But I have started, I am doing age discrimination.  Focussing mostly on the Nana’s and Poppa’s who are required to work, but can not get jobs because employers don’t want to employ senior citizens.  Well let’s just say over 45’s, so not really senior citz.

I have not finished my other thingy and bla bla bla.

I have started watching season one of 30 Rock though.

I have also cleaned the shower.

I have organised my socks.

I have played more New Super Mario Bros. than necessary.

I think I am going to start another book entirely irrelevant to my education.

Did I tell you that it’s Autumn? I love Autumn, it’s not swelteringly uncomfortably hot and it’s a little chilly but not winter chilly yet.  I love it.  Can’t wait to watch the deciduous trees in the yard change colour.

Any recommendations of a good version of Persuasion to actually watch, now that I finished the book?

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