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Posts tagged ‘sean young’

6
Sep

Stripes


Stripes (1981)
★★ / ★★★★

John (Bill Murray) was so sick of being a taxi driver, he abandoned his rude customer in the middle of a bridge and threw away the key in the water. After he tells his girlfriend what he had just done, she tells him that their relationship is over. Desperate for direction, a U.S. Army recruitment commercial appears on television. John becomes convinced that enlisting is an excellent idea, but there is no way he is going to sign up alone. So, he persuades the dependable but equally dissatisfied Russell (Harold Ramis), his best friend, to enlist with him.

Although “Stripes,” written by Len Blum, Daniel Goldberg, and Harold Ramis, is set in the military for the most part, its technique in terms of how to deliver the comedy involves throwing random jokes on screen to see what would stick. This is very unreliable: the ones that work are really funny but the ones that fail to inspire even a hint of a smile come across as filler. The unsatisfying jokes outnumber those with wit and sense of irony which results in a very mix bag.

What I found reliable, however, are the performances. Murray is very entertaining as a goofball who is convinced that military training will be a breeze because, unlike holding a job, it does not have to be taken seriously. He is sarcastic and appropriately annoying at times which inspires Sergeant Hulka (Warren Oates) take notice of him in a negative way. When the two are at each other’s throats, the screenplay has spark and energy. While the camera stays in one place during their arguments, I noticed that I could not help zeroing in on their faces and wondering, “Oh, you’re going to take what that guy just said?”

I enjoyed listening to them bicker. If there had been more scenes of control being forced upon John, the material would have been more amusing because John absolutely despises authority. The more someone holds onto him, the wilder he becomes. And just when we think John has learned from a situation and has gained a bit more maturity, he proves that one cannot teach an old dog new tricks.

John Candy as Ox, another volunteer recruit, is enjoyable to watch particularly the scene when he wrestles five or six women in the mud. There are times, however, when I wondered if the writing would stop using his size and weight as a source of comedy. I sensed an intelligence in Ox, thanks to Candy for bothering to put a enough subtlety in his character, but I felt as though Ox is not given a chance to become more than just the fat guy in the army. The joke turns stale quickly because it is one-dimensional.

Lastly, the picture, directed by Ivan Reitman, completely falls apart in the third act. When the 3rd Platoon Bravo Company arrive in Czechoslovakia, everyone except for John, Russell, Stella (P.J. Soles), and Louise (Sean Young), the latter two a part of the military police, ends up with having no mind of their own. Didn’t anyone learn anything from their training in boot camp? Just because the picture is a comedy of errors, it does not justify allowing the characters to act dumb when we know that they are smarter than what the scene minimally requires.

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10
Mar

Blade Runner


Blade Runner (1982)
★★ / ★★★★

Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) was given an assignment by the leader of the Tyrell Corporation (Joe Turkell): to hunt four replicants (Rutger Hauer, Daryl Hannah, Brion James, Joanna Cassidy), human-like creatures who lacked natural emotional responses as humans, and “retire” or assassinate them when they reached planet Earth. Rick’s mission became a bit complicated when he started to fall for another replicant named Rachael (Sean Young) who wasn’t aware of her true nature. The first time I saw “Blade Runner” back when I was in high school, I was far from impressed with it. But after having more experience with films, I decided to give it another chance. Unfortunately, I still think it’s an overrated postmodern science fiction picture. Obvious questions were left answered. For instance, how can we discern a replicant from people with abnormal psychology such as those diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder? Having only one factor that supposedly determined whether someone was a replicant or not was, for a lack of a better word, foolish. It didn’t sound like science and the screenwriting was to blame. Admittedly, it had influenced the look of gritty sci-fi movies that came after it and I was impressed with its visual and special effects. I felt like I was actually there. But the look of a movie isn’t enough to elevate a material that lacks an emotional core. The way Ridley Scott directed the project left me cold. I tried to buy the budding romance between Rick and Rachael but I didn’t feel friction and tension between them. Rick was supposed to be tortured for falling in love with a replicant and Rachael was supposed to find herself through Rick but their self-discoveries felt like a tertiary element because it lacked focus. As for Rick hunting down the four murderous replicants, I felt like the situation could have been solved in thirty minutes. I didn’t think they were menacing because I didn’t find them interesting. Their mission was to find a way to prolong their four-year lifespan. However, Scott didn’t invest the time for his villains to ponder over their existence. Instead, there was a formula. We observed the villain doing something out of the ordinary and then Rick appeared to perform his assignment. It was one dimensional and I was exasperated with its lack of ambition regarding character development. As a film about dystopian future, instead of looking forward and trying innovative things, it used a formula as a crutch and that’s what I found to be unforgivable. While it might have been visually inspiring, everything else felt insular and inaccessible. Audiences and critics expressed their distate for the film back in 1982 and for a good reason. No amount hyperboles regarding its visual mastery can persuade me that it’s an outstanding, well-rounded picture if I don’t feel something.