Full Metal Jacket Movie Review

Full Metal Jacket is serious watching.

It’s the acting that makes this movie a classic. D’Onofrio is heartbreaking as Gomer Pyle, an overweight Vietnam War recruit who unravels under the pressure of marine boot camp. Matthew Modine plays a successful recruit looking to get into war journalism. R. Lee Ermey was convincing and nuanced as the cruel drill sargeant, Gny. Sgt. Hartman. R. Lee Ermey’s character represented the conflict that is always present in war. He needs to prepare his men for war for the sake of keeping them alive, but does he go too far? Is “Hartman” a pun on “heart”? Modine is also good as the fast-talking ambitious one, although I found his joker schtick a little irritating after a while. That may have been intentional.

D’Onofrio is the shining, crunchy, fire-ball center that holds many chaotic points together

He has a brilliant spell toward the middle in which he demonstrates that he can be as frightening as Jack Nicholson with sheer application of eyebrow expression.

There are no happy endings in Full Metal Jacket. It gets harder and harder to watch as it also gets harder to turn away from. However, this film should be seen for the believability, the lack of stereotypes, its historical relevance, and the unveering straight eye on painful gray areas.

SEE IT. Possibly D’Onofrio’s best role.

The Player Movie Review


Tim Robbins plays a slimy movie exec who mistakenly kills the wrong writer. Terrifically entertaining, funny, and dark. There are about ten million cameos, too. D’Onofrio plays the writer who is mistakenly killed. As far as D’Onofrio parts go, it’s not a very big one, but his story arc is crucial to the movie.

See it! It’s very funny.

The Spanish Judges Movie Review


See it if you like bizarre con-artist flicks.

D’Onofrio is a dissatisfied small-time crook, Valeria Golino is his fed-up girlfriend, and Matthew Lillard is the con-artist who comes between them, offering to make them rich but ultimately playing them against each other. The plot was pretty good. I enjoy con films. I deduct points for Matthew Lillard’s ridiculously mannered face; your mileage may vary. D’Onofrio is over the top, too. “Mars girl”, the strange idiot-girl character, is fabulously weird.

Men in Black Movie Review

The over-arching plot isn’t much to speak of.

The beauty of this movie is in the cute and funny details. Vincent D’Onofrio plays the cockroach guy, with tons of hilariously gross makeup. D’Onofrio does a great homage to the titular character of Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Watch his arm movements as he drives the truck.

See it! It’s hilarious all the way through.

The Cell Movie Review

D’Onofrio plays a creepy serial killer in a coma.

Jennifer Lopez plays the child psychologist who’s sent into the reality-space of his mind in order to find out where he’s trapped his most recent (still living) victim. Visually stunning, over-the-top with the shock effects, and occasionally well-acted. Not for the easily disturbed. The director (Tarsem Singh) is better known for his music video direction, and that is obvious.

See it if you don’t mind creepy gore.

The Thirteenth Floor Movie Review


Sci-fi “what’s real and what’s virtual” schlock. This movie is entertaining enough, and beautifully filmed, but somewhat generic, and slow-moving in parts. The major issue is that the protagonist (Craig Bierko) and his pouty girlfriend-type (Gretchen Mol) are horrendously boring. The side characters are much more interesting. Vincent D’Onofrio plays one of the main side characters. He plays the virtual reality operator in the modern reality, and a dangerous bartender in the 1930’s reality. Armin Mueller-Stahl is excellent as the father of the system.

See it if there’s nothing better on Netflix.

La Moustache Movie Review


La Moustache is a comment on modern existentialism. Marc (played by Vincent Lindon) has worn a mustache all his adult life. One day on a whim, he decides to shave it off. Certain his wife will comment on the drastic change in his appearance, Marc is baffled when neither she nor friends notice at all. Even more disturbing is that once he calls attention to it, everyone insists he’s never had a mustache.The soundtrack is beautiful. Although we never figured out what really happened, we liked the movie and had a good time talking about it.

It reminded me of Memory of a Killer, a German movie about a hitman suffering the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s.

Also, my boyfriend shaved his facial hair, and I didn’t notice.

Alien Movie Review


Alien is a one of my all-time favorite movies. In the 1979 classic starring Tom Skerrit and Sigourney Weaver, the alien is capable of huge transformation throughout its life cycle, starting as a “face hugger” and turning into a more traditional monster; people on a remote and isolated outpost are terrorized; one by one, despite their best efforts, they meet their doom. What could be colder and more isolating than outer space? I consider this as more horror than science fiction, though really it’s a lovely merge of the two.

Then there’s the sticky (hah hah) topic of the face-hugger and what it really represents. A lot has been written about the role of rape and gender in the Alien franchise:

It’s all true. The symbolism basically knocks you over the head, but it’s fresh, new symbolism, so that’s okay. Fantastically weird sets and alien designed by Swiss artist H.R. Giger really make you feel like you’re in an alien (hah hah) environment.

There’s a delicious sense of everyman in the characters. This first of the series is sometimes called “Truckers in Space”. Everyone is there for a commission; they aren’t your typical action heroes chosen for amazing technical abilities or heroism. Everyone is relatable as a normal Joe/Jane, just out there to finish a job and collect their money. The second installation in the series, Aliens, would be “Soldiers in Space”. I think Alien is the better movie because the characters are more subtle and believable.

At merely seven characters–nine if you consider the ship (Mother) and the alien–it’s an amazingly slim cast, but all of them play an important part. Sigourney Weaver kills it as the feminist heroine, taking control and surviving when nobody else can sort their asses from their elbows. I even like Veronica Cartwright, who played the hysterical woman. She played other hysterical women in other movies later in her career, notably, The Witches of Eastwick.

My boyfriend thought the movie was slow. That’s how movies were made before the instant gratification/jump-cut era took hold. Movies had details  and subtlety.

Finally, an analysis I really loved, all about the fonts in Alien:


See it, for the love of all that’s good in movies.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine TV review

Brooklyn Nine-Nine: don’t bother watching.

I started watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Hulu. I really like Andre Braugher, as usual. He’s serious and well-spoken and has a huge presence. The rest of the characters are goofy and comedic. The show has a cartoonish “hilarity ensues” feeling to it that is completely at odds with Braugher’s presence. I get that there is supposed to be a contrast, but it’s too much contrast. The other characters are manic and unlikable and I really have no interest in their story arcs. I want characters around him that can balance him out. You wouldn’t eat a twinkie with your filet mignon. I give some points for funny jokes, but funny jokes don’t make great character arcs or even plots. The show just grates.

X-Files Drive TV Review

Vince Gilligan wrote the X-Files Drive episode as well as Breaking Bad. In Drive, Bryan Cranston plays a man named Crump who is forced to drive west at ever higher speeds lest a vibration in his inner ear cause his head to explode. Mulder had just seen this happen to Crump’s wife, so he is inclined to believe something unusual is going on. However before he can investigate further, Crump takes Mulder hostage and forces him to drive west. It’s a morally questionable judgment that we see echoed in Breaking Bad.

As the Drive episode unfolds we see elements of typical X-Files government conspiracy. A government-based radio transmitter had recently issued a noise near Crump’s home that is likely the cause of the infection. Although Scully was getting closer to a cure, the majority of the episode focused on Mulder’s stressful drive west with Crump. Mulder is sympathetic to the Crump, but Crump starts out extremely distrustful and dangerous. Crump accuses Mulder of being part of the Jewish conspiracy as well as the evil government. Crump is a racist gun-wielding jerk, insisting on being called “Mr” Crump.

Regardless, Mulder goes all out to help this guy. Either because he knows this is Crump’s dying hour, or because he does not want Crump to be the victim of an giant goverment conspiracy, Mulder is nice to him. Mulder does not want this unpleasant man to die. He finds ways of driving west despite several obstacles.

Well, on behalf of the International Jewish Conspiracy I just need to inform you that we’re almost out of gas. Mulder says this gently, as though speaking with a friend. Unable to fill up at the pump quickly enough, Mulder steals a car and continues west with Crump in tow.

One might think there is nothing to like about Crump. However over the course of his dialogue with Mulder, Crump warms up. Crump shares a story of his morning breakfast with his wife. Crump reveals his very human fear of losing his life. We begin to empathize. Like Walter White in Breaking Bad, he’s definitely got some good and bad in him.

See it if you don’t mind a little hokey atmosphere

Subtract a few points for predictable government conspiracy

Homicide: Life on the Street Subway TV Review


Homicide: Life on the Street was a gritty police procedural that ran from 1993-1999. If you only ever watch one episode of Homicide: Life on the Street, make it “Subway“. The Subway episode well deserved its Peabody award and two Emmy nominations.

The episode, which aired in 1997 and was written by James Yoshimura, features Vincent D’Onofrio of Law and Order: Criminal Intent fame as John Lange, a man trapped between the subway and the platform either by accident or wrongdoing. Andre Braugher, a regular on the show, plays Detective Pembleton, who simultaneously comforts the victim while investigating the case. Their dialogue is moody and tense. The conclusion is all but foregone. We can’t imagine that Lange will survive. Nevertheless, everyone is still feverishly working to save him. Other detectives are looking for his girlfriend, jogging in the neighborhood.

See it. Flawless.

D’Onofrio is mesmerizing. He is at turns unlikable, empathetic, angry, calm, and manic. His character flips between demanding a burger to begging that they not remove his legs. The flare of hope he exhibits at the end is heartbreaking. The effect it has on Braugher’s character is also extremely convincing. They force and turbulance of D’Onofrio’s character is perfectly balanced with the calm of Andre Braugher’s character. Despite this episode being largely based on dialogue, it is extremely intense. An entire hour of just talking, a constrained, almost claustrophobic space, where the conclusion is all but foregone — sounds grim doesn’t it? Just watch it.

American Horror Story TV Review

My new favorite show, American Horror Story, has all the elements I enjoy in both television and movies:

  • Great actors
  • Great writing
  • Great story arcs
  • Variety from one season to the next

The premise is brilliant. Although there’s one core idea (“horror”), each season focuses on a variant of the theme (ghosts, mental asylum, witches). The primary actors play different roles in each season. Jessica Lange is absolutely delicious in every role she plays. There are some fairly well-known names: Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett.

I’m keeping up with the episodes, so I am in season three (“Coven”). I found the first season the scariest, but I thought the second one was the best-written (so far). As per usual, I am binge-watching the show. I kinda want to see Fiona get her everlasting vitality, beat cancer, and remain supreme forever. I empathize with her desire for one last big fling. As much as I feel bad for the Marie LaVeau, I want to see her people lose the war. The voodoo people are kind of annoying. Enough already with their zombies. It’s like they never let go of a grudge. The voodoo people and the witches should join forces, they’d have more to gain that way. There is no reason for them to fight with each other.

See it. Most excellent.

Andre Braugher and the curse of the cancelled show

I’m a big fan of Andre Braugher. I’m disappointed that his better shows don’t last more than a couple of seasons. Aside from Homicide: Life on the Street (great) and Brooklyn Nine-Nine (terrible), many shows he was in did not last. He deserves longer-lasting vehicles for his talent.

There is something about a show with subtlety/intelligence/magic/challenge that the mass public isn’t interested in. When the public isn’t interested, there’s no money in it, and executives pull the plug. Here’s a short list of the Andre Braugher shows that got cancelled too soon: