Bombs and Bigger Bombs
The movie “Hacksaw Ridge” just came out on DVD. It tells the somewhat shocking story of Medal of Honor winner, Desmond Doss. While many hundreds of Americans have won the Medal of Honor in the past, Doss’s story has a twist. He was a “conscientious objector.” He was essentially a Seventh-day Adventist pacifist, meaning he was against all killing regardless of the context. So he decided to rush into battle… without a weapon.
“Hacksaw ridge” was the name given to the hellish moonscape that provided for the LZ (landing zone) of the battle of Okinawa. While there were plenty of blood and guts, (and unfortunate flame-throwing incidents), the real story was about love. Love for God and love of your fellow man (two concepts inextricably linked).
The movie also presented another concept, perhaps accidentally. After seeing the viciousness and endless war crimes of the Japs, (like taking a stroll around the battlefield executing the American wounded by running them through with bayonets), the false surrenders and ambushes, the “banzai” charges, the ritual suicides, the fact that even before the battle for Okinawa began, the war was pretty much a foregone conclusion and yet the Japanese refused to give an inch, the film provides ample context as to why we resorted to nukes to finish the job.
So why am I bringing all of this up? Well, apart from the incredible bravery of our troops as well as the storytelling of an incident probably previously known only by a small sliver of American historians, it was an absolute no-show at the Oscar’s. It didn’t receive a single nomination. Could it be that its director, Mel Gibson, is still paying the penalty for going on a random, drunken, anti-Semitic rant like eight years ago? Perhaps. Who knows?
The Oscar’s was largely forgettable as a whole. Predictably, the ceremony served as both an awards show and a Donald Trump roast. Jimmy Kimmel, the host, did a mostly laudable job, but this year’s lineup of movies was so pathetic I almost confused it for a Cleveland Brown’s roster.
“Jackie?” The movie about the former first lady Jaqueline Bouvier (Kennedy). I appreciated her for her fashion sense (the ballroom-like white gloves, ornate hats, and cute pastel dresses), but beyond that, I didn’t know much about her as a person. I was hoping to find someone to admire, but after two dull hours, I came away with the story of a cold, smug, defensive, wannabe French aristocrat whose favorite pastime was chain-smoking, and ditching the White House every weekend to go horseback riding so that JFK could enjoy his mistresses in private. The whole thing made you wonder why they made the movie in the first place.
“Manchester by the Sea?” Well, let’s just put it this way. I now know what it’s like to experience Chinese water torture.
The movie and filming takes place on location in Massachusetts; with all of its picturesque scenery, harbors, quaint architecture, and swearing Irishmen (apparently Bostonians rather enjoy using the F-word). It starred Ben Affleck’s little brother Casey. To his credit, he was trying to portray an unlikeable, angry, purposeless, depressing vagrant, with no sense of familial responsibility and no direction or ambition in life, and he was able to pull it off. Each scene was as monotone and as disconnected as the last with no discernable plot.
The only interesting scene was his suicide attempt after accidentally burning his family to death, and by that point in the movie, I was actually mildly upset that he didn’t succeed in killing himself.
This boring saga that some people called a movie, ended on a random pier in Massachusetts when the Director mercifully ran out of tape.
“La La Land?” Financially speaking it was an enormous success, grossing 142 million dollars (according to International Movie Database — IMDB). But statistics can be misleading. It really only grossed 71 million — the other half of the ticket sales came from guys who were heavily coerced into seeing it by their wife or girlfriend.
This was an interesting movie because not only is the title creative, it also is a perfect summary of its quality.
This flick was also clearly the result of affirmative action hiring. Because it was advertised as a musical, and yet it starred two people who could neither dance nor sing. Ryan Gosling played the male lead, and Emma Stone the female. Actually, in separate roles they’re both decent actors, but together they have about as much chemistry as baking soda and vinegar.
For those of you who haven’t seen La La Land yet and may be interested, I have a suggestion that will save you 12 dollars. Go get a box of thumbtacks, sprinkle them on your couch and sit on them for 2 hours, and you will get a comparable experience.
So it was poetic justice, not to mention ironic, when this was the film that was confused with the best picture.