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Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

 People say that if you don’t love America, then get the hell out. Well, I love America.

— Ron Kovic

Memorial Day was a while ago and I wanted to see the picture that nabbed Tom Cruise his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor, Born on the Fourth of July. I saw this a while ago, but I haven’t had the chance to write the review until now. The movie did win Oliver Stone the Best Director Oscar.

Based on the true story of Ron Kovic (Cruise), a man who comes from an extremely religious background, was a wrestler in high school and wanted to be part of something greater than himself. When a Marine Corps recruiter shows up at the school, Ron almost jumps at the chance of signing up and going to fight in Vietnam.

The action cut to Ron’s second tour when his platoon shot up a Vietcong village, but they accidentally killed women and children. They realize that it was ruse for the Vietcong to have the opening salvo on the Americans. During the confusion of sand and bullets, Ron ends up shooting one of his fellow soldiers, PFC Wilson (Michael Compotaro). Ron tries to confess what happened, but his superiors brush the incident under the rug.

In another altercation, Ron is shot in the foot and then in the upper chest, paralyzing him from the mid-chest down. He resides in a VA hospital in the Bronx that looks like a slum then a place for veterans. When he returns to his childhood home, he becomes angry that people are indifferent about the war and what it represents to the country.

The main reason for this review is for the next LAMB Acting School 101, Willem Dafoe. Willem has a small part as a confidant of Ron, Charlie, when Ron lives in Villa Dulce, Mexico. A place where disabled veterans stays, get drunk and have sex with hookers. Charlie questions Ron about what really happened to him in the war and questions everything that Ron believed in.

I was expected to be blown away with Tom Cruise’s performance. I saw glimpses of it, but not that much to keep me interested in it. I have seen a lot of Vietnam movies. It’s like all of them are blurring into one. This particular story is not that intriguing to me and I found myself bored with it. It seems shallow and it doesn’t explore what happens to a person when they come back from the war.

Judgment: I wish I had some glowing words to say about this movie, but I don’t.

Rating: 6.5/10

True Romance (1993)

 

Hi. How are you? My name’s Elliot, and I’m with the Cub Scouts of America. We’re… we’re selling uncut cocaine to get to the jamboree.

— Elliot

Quentin Tarantino penned the script for True Romance for director Tony Scott. I heard about this movie, because when I saw the IMDb page of Inglourious Basterds. He made one of the characters “Bear Jew” Donowitz the grandfather of one of the character in this movie. I thought I might check it out. I think this was Tarantino’s attempt to have a bloodily romantic movie, but it fails.

Taking place in Detroit, a comic book store worker, Clarence Worley (Christian Slater) goes to a Sonny Chiba “Street Fighter” triple feature. A beautiful young woman, Alabama Whitman (Patricia Arquette) intentionally bumps into him there. They take a liking to each other and meet each other for pie. He tries to get to know her more, but she is coy.

They quickly fall in love and have sex. Afterwards, Alabama confesses to him that she is a call girl that was hired by his boss to get him laid on his birthday. They promise to be with each other always and get married the next day. She tells him about her fucked up life and how needed to get her stuff back from her pimp

When shit is about to go down the spirit of Elvis (Val Kilmer) gives Clarence a quick pep talk in the bathroom. Clarence wants to retrieve Alabama’s stuff from her former pimp, a Rasta man named Drexl (Gary Oldman). Going over there, things go wrong when he kills Drexl and takes a suitcase. It turns out that suitcase is filled with a million dollars worth of cocaine from a drug lord, Blue Lou Boyle.

The duo doesn’t know this. When Clarence comes back to the apartment bloody and bruised, Alabama is turned on by doing anything for her. They go over to a trailer house to meet his father, Clifford (Dennis Hooper), who is a police officer. They haven’t seen each other in three years. He wanted to know if the cops are after the twosome. Clifford tells them that they are in the clear.

They take a road trip Clarence’s best friend in Hollywood, Dick Ritchie (Michael Rappaport), an actor with his stoner roommate, Floyd (Brad Pitt). After the duo leaves, Vincenzo Coccotti (Chirstopher Walken), the local counsel for Boyle, pays Clifford a visit. The thugs interrogate him when Clarence dropped his license at the crime scene. They want to get their score back.

The movie is supposed to be a modern version of Bonnie and Clyde, but the movie felt false. You know you hear Tarantino dialogue when the characters ramble on about movies and minute trivia. The movie as whole laid flat. There was no oomph. I didn’t care if the characters lived or died. It was disappointing.

Judgment: Words cannot describe how terrible this movie is.

Rating: **1/2

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