Archive for July 12th, 2009

by Joel Bocko

Apocalypse Now Redux, 1979 (revised in 2000), directed by Francis Ford Coppola

The Story: Capt. Willard, an increasingly strung-out Special Forces commando, is assigned a top-secret mission in late 60s Vietnam: travel up the Da Nang river to assassinate the renegade Col. Kurtz, a mysterious military genius who has set up a private empire in the wilderness. Along the way, Willard and his shipmates encounter increasingly bizarre characters and situations, and by the time they arrive in Kurtz’s unholy domain, it has become clear that the colonel is only as mad as the war around him.

When the troubled production of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now was mired for years in the Philippines, Hollywood wags dubbed the film “Apocalypse Later.” The implication, of course, being that such a crazy idea – an adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, transposed to Vietnam, and shot in conditions which were themselves often warlike (literally, the crew had to negotiate with both sides of a civil war which was raging around them) – could only exist on paper or perhaps in Coppola’s crazed, grandiose mind. When the film arrived at Cannes finally, at the tail end of the 70s, it could have merely been a footnote to the legendary turmoil of its making, something like the later big-budget flop Heaven’s Gate, labeled a “folly” and quickly cast aside. (more…)

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taxi 1

by Allan Fish

(USA 1976 114m) DVD1/2

All the animals come out at night

p  Michael Phillips, Julia Phillips  d  Martin Scorsese  w  Paul Schrader  ph  Michael Chapman  ed  Marcia Lucas, Tom Rolf, Melvin Shapiro  m  Bernard Herrmann  art  Charles Rosen

Robert DeNiro (Travis Bickle), Cybill Shepherd (Betsy), Jodie Foster (Iris Steensma), Harvey Keitel (Sport), Leonard Harris (Charles Palantine), Peter Boyle (Wizard), Albert Brooks (Tom), Diahnne Abbott (concession girl), Martin Scorsese (taxi passenger),

Was there ever a less lovely film made during the seventies, a film so willing to wallow in the dregs of modern urban (in) humanity?  It is to Martin Scorsese’s great credit that the humanity of the piece shows through and, in the end, conquers all as, from the opening strains of Herrmann’s immortal score puncturing through the red lights and smoke, we recognise a true hell on earth, as real as the one adorned by Dante’s immortal words “lasciate ogni sperenza voi ch’entrate.”  Abandon hope indeed. 

            Travis Bickle is a Vietnam vet honourably discharged from the marines who is willing to work “anytime, anywhere” and who is given work as a cab driver.  Willing to take all sorts of fare to all parts of the city, he slowly becomes horrified by the filth he encounters until, when he comes across a twelve year old prostitute, he decides enough’s enough and sets off to meet out rough justice to the perpetrators. (more…)

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