If it wasn’t for the evil shaky-cam, this would rank as a contemporary conservative classic right alongside “300,” “Taken,” and “The Dark Knight.”
Battle: Los Angeles is a totally un-ironic film about wartime valor and comradeship. In fact, it’s very much a Marines recruiting film, which is probably another reason why some people found it distasteful. Eckhart’s character is basically a decent guy, who tries to keep the civilians safe and provide a role model to a young kid who wants to grow up to be a Marine. And the “gung ho” stuff just gets more air-punchy as the film goes on, until finally the surviving fighters decide to skip breakfast in favor of going out and killing more aliens.
If you’re looking for a movie about why war is never a good thing, or a critique of militarism, this ain’t it. But if you enjoy the occasional war movie, in which basically good but conflicted people go kick some ass, then I actually recommend Battle: Los Angeles quite a bit. …
As Perry put it: “Battle LA was one long fire fight and more realistic than half the stuff out there in its portrayal of combat.” Added Finlay: “That was the sense I had of it. I also thought it nailed the sense of mission and the courage of soldiers.”
It actually takes more talent to make a creatively successful un-ironic film than the other way around. Sentiment and sincerity are much more difficult to pull off than detached irony, above-it-all nihilism, and superior snark. To make sentiment and sincerity work, the audience has to care about the characters and the situation, they have to invest in every aspect of the story. This also, of course, involves a much richer and more satisfying experience for the audience.
One of the reasons so many films fail or become forgettable or don’t sell on home video, is this lack of emotional connection.
Most impressive and no doubt pleasing to the 20,000 in attendance was Seger’s instantly recognizable voice — still smooth and powerful as ever. On songs like the gorgeous “Mainstreet” and “Turn The Page,” where you could hear the crowd chant along to every word, to the whimsical “Against The Wind” and the acoustic opening of the classic “Night Moves,” you’d be hard-pressed to identify which decade it was outside those arena walls.
Indeed, to his fans, who embraced during “Old Time Rock and Roll” or yelled along to the majestic “Beautiful Loser,” it was 1978 all over again. And on this night, with Seger as your tour guide, there was no better place to be.
LAST NIGHT’S SCREENING
Compulsion (1959) — Having just finished director Richard Fleischer’s splendid auto-biography, “Just Tell Me When To Cry,” I was interested in seeing the film that started his long association with Darryl and Richard Zanuck and 20th Century-Fox. “Compulsion” is a thinly disguised retelling of the notorious Leopold and Loeb story, two murderers who believed themselves to be Nietzschean supermen and therefore not only capable of committing the perfect crime but also entitled to take a life due to their own superiority.
Fleischer’s film touches on all these themes, including the gay subtext between the two murderers (Hitchcock’s more famous “Rope” did the same), but kind of loses it at the end with a 15-minute speech opposing the death penalty delivered by the boy’s defense attorney (Orson Welles — standing in for Clarence Darrow). These two scumbags plotted and schemed the coldest of cold-blooded murders and we’re supposed to believe that even the prosecutor would be swayed against hanging them?
Well, I guess so, because that’s pretty much what happened. In the real case, Darrow gave “the speech of his career,” won the day, and in 1924 both murderers were sentenced to life imprisonment. Loeb would eventually die at the hands of another prisoner in 1936 and Leopold would be released in 1958. In a final bit of irony, Leopold sued the producers of “Compulsion” for lack of privacy. Fleischer says the lawsuit was successful but other sources say the case was dismissed.
I most certainly recommend the film, though. The black and white, widescreen photography and the four lead performances (Dean Stockwell, Bradford Dillman, E.G, Marshall, and Welles) are superb. Historically, “Compulsion” not only changed Fleischer’s life, it was the first production credit for eventual Thalberg winner Richard Zanuck.
SCOTTDS’ EPIC LINKTACULAR
CLASSIC PICK FOR SATURAY, DECEMBER 31
12:00 AM EST: D.O.A. (1950) — The victim of a slow-acting poison tracks down his own killer. Dir: Rudolph MatÃ Cast: Edmond O’Brien, Pamela Britton, Luther Adler. BW-84 mins, TV-14, CC.
Tight, tough, noir thriller that executes its seemingly gimmicky concept perfectly. O’Brien’s perfect as the everyman chasing down his own murderer and the photography is gorgeous. Gripping, every minute of the way.
Happy New Year everyone!
Here’s to retiring President Failture Teleprompter in 2012!
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