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Very Dated, but Fun, Satire
RobertF876 February 2005
This film doesn't really have any storyline to speak of. Basically it is an episodic comedy-drama, set in New York in the late 60s, revolving around three friends as they try to avoid being drafted into the Army and sent to Vietnam, while experiencing various elements of the late 1960s counterculture.

The film uses a a style very reminiscent of the French "Nouvelle Vague" films, such as hand-held cameras, on-screen captions commenting on the action and speeded-up film.

The film is probably most well-known today for marking an early appearance by Robert De Niro (here aged 24) as voyeuristic amateur film-maker Jon Rubin, and for being an early film from director Brian De Palma.

The film is, luckily, worth watching for much more than this though. It is an interesting snapshot of it's times and, although very dated, it is often quite funny. The main problem is that the film hasn't aged very well and there's no structure to it, many episodes by far outstay their welcome.
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De Palma in the 60's
jed-estes20 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Of all of the Brian De Palma's films I had seen their had never been a comedy. His films are usually dramatic, scary or have a statement to say. About the closest he ever came to a comedy was Bonfire of the Vanities and we all know how that turned out. But going over his extensive body of work I found an old jewel by this man, and that jewel is Greetins. I admit this being pretty much his first film I should have came across it much sooner, but it was hard to find and took me about three years to uncover. When I got it and watched I never expected to laugh, I just thought it would be another statement about the time it was made in like most of De Palma's films and that would have been OK, as I like almost all of his movies, but this was a treat. From the very first frame until the last I was in a fit of laughter and that is a huge accomplishment for a film that is forty-years old. I have never laughed at a movie from the 60's the way I did this one. When the first actor walks into the African American bar and picks a fight so he can get beat up and put out of the army was magnificent. They only comedies of that time that still hold up for me are The Andy Griffith Show, I love Lucy and other situation comedies but never a film. The rest of the movie is cool because it follows three guy who are trying to get out of the draft and are heavily involved with different parts of the 60's counter culture. Robert De Niro, is a voyeur and obsessed with art I feel he is probably the character that most resembles Brian De Palma, the character almost is De Palma. One of the other guys is obsessed with the Kennedy assassination and is trying to find out the cover up, he is also involved in the hippie movement. The third guy is just a typical normal guy thrown in with these loons and is trying to stay out of the war. He goes as far to as to act gay and be like a militant. De Niro though rises as the star of the film and outshines every one else, I like him better in this then anything else he has ever done. I love when he is forced to go to Vietnam and instead of shooting a V.C girl he has her pose for a news camera and tries to make a voyeur porn. It was hilarious. Brian De Palma himself makes a brief cameo in this as a man on the steps of the draft building who De Niro does a funny rant too. Watch this movie and see how De Palma grew to become the master he is. I will say that this movie is not for everyone as it is a little racist and sexiest but if you take it in the context that it was made then you can see they real roots of it's comedy.
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comedy for a defined sense of humour
deanganter24 October 2000
Damn amusing comedy largely centered around conversational humour. Champion script writing with some of the most amusing scenes you'll ever see. It is unfortunate that this film is so under-rated (and more often not rated at all) as it is a unique look at a group of characters, so perfectly defined by the great cast in their early years, who come up with some delightfully idiotic ideas and live out these ideas with such confidence it is really quite disturbing. John Rubin is of course the best character, and seeing Robert De Niro perform his "Cancerous elements" scene is easily one of the greatest scenes ever captured on celluloid. Most worthy of a sequel, which by chance is almost as good as its predecessor. Highly recommended.
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Uneven but fascinating 60s satire. Worth a look.
Infofreak20 May 2002
Brian De Palma these days isn't generally associated with comedy, but this is from his counter culture period, when subversive put ons were his metier (see also 'get To Know Your Rabbit'). Three hipsters (Robert De Niro, cult figure Gerrit Graham and unknown Jonathan Warden, all good) try and dodge the draft, and romp through a near plotless series of odd scenes involving their private obsessions, mainly JFK's assassination and voyeurism. The mood is somewhere between Richard Lester and Jean Luc Godard. While it's great to see De Niro in an early comedic role, the stand out performance for me is by Graham, who shows the chops he would use in his subsequent long and varied career ('Demon Seed', 'Used Cars', Bud the Chud). The supporting cast also includes the hugely underrated Allen Garfield ('The Conversation', 'The Stunt Man') in a memorable sequence opposite De Niro.

'Greetings' is uneven, and dated in some ways, but has enough invention and genuine laughs to make it worth the rental. Now, if only I can find the sequel...
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uneven, but never too unbearable; oozes with French new-wave influence
MisterWhiplash26 September 2005
The problem with judging a work like Greetings is that it is by a filmmaker who is just starting to work out what's inside of him, his themes, his ideas, his sense of humor and attitudes towards society and women. Brian De Palma would follow-up Greetings with the (for my money) better satire Hi, Mom, which also features a 20-something Robert De Niro (indeed, also in a similar role here, though not by much). The reason his follow-up was better, to me, is because he had sorted out more of what he wanted with his style; here, he is skilled at infusing Nouvelle Vague into the film, and his voyeuristic attitude is prevalent in a few key scenes (one of them perhaps the funniest, involving De Niro's Jon Rubin 'directing' a woman on a bed).

What is fascinating throughout is how little De Palma shows his Hitchcock influence here; if anything, Godard is the main pulse throughout (long takes that inevitably comment upon themselves, characters reading books on camera, near political use of jump cuts and zooms). So that is one reason why it can't have everything together; as De Palma is still finding himself, and more than likely making this movie for himself (i.e. HE is the audience), it's hard for it to find what is often called 'accessibility' for a viewer like myself. I probably would've found this to be a 8/10 if I had been born thirty or forty years earlier.

The three characters here are separated very vastly, but each with their own incredible, off-beat, and often strange behavior. The friend on with the computer dates is hit or miss; the highlight here being when he has the "Dirty Movie" date, as De Palma shoots it in a mix of pre Clockwork Orange styling and as a silent film. The friend obsessed with the Kennedy assassination, to the point of drawing diagrams on a naked woman to prove his point (tongue-in-cheek of course). And then there's De Niro's character, not really in the film that much until the last twenty or so minutes. These (not to put down the talents of the other two actors; the Assassination friend had a weird quality that made him watchable) scenes are the better ones, as even here De Niro has a grasp on what De Palma thinks he's getting. But the main problem here, which was solved in most of De Palma's later movies starting with Hi, Mom onward, is consistency. There are some scenes that just don't work, that are either funny for the wrong reasons, or not funny at all.

The technical aspect of the film, in terms of being quintessentially 60's, is intriguing, but even here isn't always used to its best use. Overall, it almost makes me think of this as like one long Monty Python movie with sketches that sometimes work, but unfortunately don't. If you would want to see it out of curiosity, especially from a historical or sociological interest, I wouldn't dare tell you not to see it (the last scenes in "Vietnam" are just wacky enough). But if your a De Niro fan or De Palma fan just getting into their work, know what you're getting into here. Some may love it, some may dis-like it even more than I. For me, it served its purpose well.
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Memorable Scene
gappa018 May 2003
This film is worth seeing just for JFK assassination recreation scene. One of the funniest individual scenes I have ever been witness to. Offbeat piece of film making from a future legend. DePalma is very satiric and DeNiro shows comedic ability that he won't display for another 25-30 years.
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Poorly delivered episodic film whose only value is historic
bob the moo22 February 2005
In an episodic series of stories we meet three friends in the mid-sixties, each with their own hang-ups, issues and problems. Paul is shy and seeking love even though it isn't forthcoming from any of the computer dates he tries; Lloyd is a conspiracy theory nut, worried that he is being watched at all times due to his knowledge of those involved in the JFK assassination, meanwhile Jon is a shy amateur film maker who just happens to also be a peeping tom in training.

On the basis of those involved in this film I decided to give it a go and see what it did – after all De Palma is mentioned in the same breath as other very good directors who did a lot of good work back in the late 1960's and 70's. However this film left me cold and failed to really make any lasting impression on whatsoever as it was rather messy and with nothing I could really get a hold of. Other reviewers have called this a satire but few have said what it satirises and I suspect are using the word rather than knowing that that is what this was. The episodic nature of the film was not the problem for me, it was more than few of the sections were funny or interesting and too many of them just seemed to go nowhere.

The cast are mixed and it is obviously the presence of De Niro that attracts a lot of people. He is good despite the material and he shows some touches that he would develop as time went on. Graham and Warden are underused and have nothing of any real value to offer – not all their fault as the material is to blame but Graham does have some good moments. De Palma's direction is a bit dull to be honest and most of his shots are very static – ignore the fact that it lacks the style he is famous for, this just lacks imagination full stop.

Overall this is interesting only to see early work from De Palma and De Niro but really as a film it is poor. The episodic nature of the film is not so much a problem as the fact that few of the episodes are any good, even if they are watchable in the main. Not really worth watching on the whole then but maybe completest will get something from it.
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Interesting comedy, but does drag on
Spidey-2130 September 1999
Definitely an interesting commentary on the state of youth and society in the mid sixties. At times down right hilarious, this comedy does can be boring. Not for everyone. Interesting installment from Brian Depalma, the director of Carrie, his unique style indeed makes for an interesting film. Deniro's portrayal of a developing voyeur is one of the few comedic roles that I have seen him do so well. A movie worth watching for anyone interested in film making, as many techniques are quite interested.
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Wonderful, intelligent movie.
Sergiu Bursuc17 July 2007
This movie is one of the best American movies in the sixties. It's form, sharpness, concision, subtlety and great comedy make it a peak of new-wave American cinema and show the real talent of Brian de Palma.

If the movie is political, it is not a propagandistic one. It is a real artistic work, where everything is relative, fun is everywhere, politics is ridiculed just as the lack of politics. Nothing stands to the great destructive power of the irony and of the cinema. MASH by Altman can be compared to this movie.

All this comes with a great directing skill and novelty. Hitchcock and French nouvelle vague can be an influence (they are actually cited in the movie), but de Palma is original and his merits are beyond any doubt.

A masterpiece!
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Sixties memorabilia piece.
Alex-Tsander1 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I have just seen Greetings for the first time. My immediate reaction was that it is SO 'Sixties. Parts of it resembling an episode of The Monkees. Especially when a group of people are live animated in a park.

As Sixties memorabilia it represents both some of the best aspects of the zeitgeist, such as the dreaminess of a character dwelling on a woman in the street, and it's most excruciatingly embarrassing aspects. Such as the unnecessary and not at all erotic nudity thrown in just for the sake of being oh-so revolutionary. The worst of this being in the ridiculous part where the conspiracy theorist is using a naked woman as an anatomy mannequin and she is supposed to be asleep all through his writing on her and rolling her this way and that.

It is of course fascinating to see DeNero so young in this film, yet with some of his tics already formed. However, as a visual artist I found the richest part of the film to be the drawn out conversation with Richard Hamilton. The British originator of the term "Pop Art" who effectively explains in detail the rationale of some of his paintings of the period and takes the opportunity to assert that they pre-dated Blow-Up, to which they were already regarded as deriving from.

The film is pretty much without a story and it's many episodes range from the excruciatingly embarrassing to the fascinatingly dated via some good humorous elements and a bit of social history. The nutter in a book-shop whose conversation leads inexorably to the logical conclusion that he was going to be "next" is genuinely clever. Overall, however, this film would not have fore-warned me of some of the super work that De Palma would yet make. It feels amateurish. A student quality piece.
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interesting but could have been so much better
canscene14 May 2006
Interesting from the viewpoint of seeing an early De Palma effort and also applauding his courage in making a film so critical of the Vietnam catastrophe, but the film lacks focus and ambles from one scene to another, lacking the incisiveness it needed to make its mark among the several really good anti-Vietnam War movies that came after.

There's a sense of improv about the whole effort but much of the intended black humor vaporizes

Worthwhile for students of film history and in particular the careers of De Palma and De Niro .One should be thankful that somehow they were encouraged to proceed with their careers.

I don't remember reading any reviews at the time, but feel it coiuld have developed a cult following.
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I didn't like it
policy1346 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I don't understand that this is supposed to be funny. Usually, I am a sucker for films that feature offbeat characters and non-linear story lines. I just didn't get it this time.

Maybe, it's because that I am not familiar with life in the sixties, other than what I have read. Maybe, it's because I thought that this was going to be more of a violent film with extreme black humour. The humour is sort of black, but there is little to no violence here.

De Niro is interesting to watch here and you can sense shades of his most famous character of Travis Bickle in some scenes. The scene in Vietnam works because it comes totally out of nowhere, but for the most part his character just seems goofy. I know that this kind of film was probably something that most people were not used to in the late sixties, but as more and more directors went counterculture in the 70s, this seems extremely boring by comparison and also kind of amateurish.

I know that De Palma was still a rookie filmmaker here and this was probably some kind of experiment for him. It's a noble try but not very compelling.

One more thing: Even for a sixties song, the tune played at the opening credits is probably one of the worst I have ever heard.
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Has its moments, but doesn't come together
mattymatt4ever22 April 2001
"Greetings" is cheaply made satire, which was Brian DePalma's directorial debut and one of DeNiro's first roles. That was my main reason for being very curious of this film. I was anxious to see DeNiro in early moments of his career.

Maybe this movie is dated. I wasn't around during 1968, so maybe I just didn't get the satire. Maybe that's why most of this movie flew above my head. Nevertheless, the movie never seems to center on a basic idea. It just meanders on and on, delivering a series of satirical sketches, almost as if they were coming up with ideas as they continued shooting the film. This would be typical of an experimental student film, and I'm sure it would get top honors if DePalma, DeNiro and the other people who took part in this movie submitted this to their film class in college. But I'm not going to purposely lower my standards just because a movie is cheaply made by a couple of ambitious filmmakers who simply tried to salvage whatever they can with their fledgling budget. I'm not going to feel pity for the film's cheapness, like it's some struggling vagrant. I've seen much better films made on low budgets that didn't contain shaky camera work and bad sound. You can at least do something fancy with the camera to show off your skills. Most of the shots you see in this movie are wide shots. There are very few close-ups. It wasn't until fifteen minutes through the film where I realized which one DeNiro was. It's like at those Christmas gatherings where one of the family members doesn't feel like lugging the camera around, so he/she mounts the camera atop some sort of aparatus to capture what's going on but it's just one boring still shot.

Anyway, I don't think DePalma will be putting this movie on his most-cherished list. Sometimes early work can be the best work. Like Martin Scorcese with "Mean Streets." I saw him on an interview recently and he claims "MS" is still his favorite out of all films he's ever done. I wouldn't be surprised if DePalma has this movie resting in the receptacle in his backyard.

Almost every great filmmaker started out making little forgettable, crappy, no-brain films with their camcorders at an early age. This is like one of those films, except it isn't completely devoid of intelligence and does have some direction. Just not enough consistency.
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Wonderful early De Palma .....
PimpinAinttEasy3 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Dear Brian De Palma,

Greeting was an amusing little talky film filled with strange and lost artistic characters, set in the late 60s. Your penchant for weird camera angles, long takes and deep focus shots are evident in this early work. And also your affinity for the female form :). A young De Niro gets to show his comedic side with some great imitations of a US general. The Kennedy assassination and the Vietnam war pervades the film's atmosphere. The scene at the book store when Gerrit Graham's character runs into a conspiracy theorist was pure comedy gold. The film has a melodious soundtrack by Children of Paradise which you used well in the title sequence following a character walking around in a street. I am sure Richard Lintaker was inspired by the film's unusual characters and its episodic structure when he made Slackers.

Best Regards, Pimpin.

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Hugely disappointing
MovieAddict20162 February 2005
Brian De Palma, Robert De Niro in his first has to be good, right? That's what I thought. But I was hugely disappointed. "GREETINGS" is no more a comedy than SCHINDLER'S LIST. I didn't laugh a single time, nor grin or smile. It has one good gag, at the very end of the film, and if it had maintained that wit throughout I would have given it a higher rating.

However it starts off very poor and only gets worse as time goes on. Made on a shoestring budget, and it shows in every scene. Continuity errors galore. De Palma, who edited the film, clearly has no handle on editing and literally jumps around from scene to scene. So, in one segment a group of characters are talking, and it suddenly jumps to fifteen minutes later in a different room, and they're still talking, and we're left wondering what on earth is going on.

I only really wanted to see this because of Robert De Niro. I am a die-hard De Niro fan and will watch anything with him in it (I even sat through SAM'S SONG, which is even worse than this - by a long shot). However De Niro - despite top billing - is not in this film very much, and when he is, he's not very impressive. (Although he hardly does a bad job, either.) I couldn't believe De Palma was responsible for this film, it lacks all the typical Hitchcock trademarks of his. However, there are a few references - characters discuss the film BLOW-UP (1966) which he of course later loosely remade into BLOW OUT (1981) and at one point a female character subtly picks up HITCHCOCK / TRUFFAUT from a bookshelf and begins to read it.

However the rest of this film lacks his typical visionary edge and I suppose it's because he was still learning (and that's clear in every frame). De Palma, never a friend of the MPAA, seems to push the boundaries a lot in GREETINGS and for the most part it's totally unnecessary. The whole subplot about De Niro's peeping-tom habits are disturbing and make us dislike his character - which is a problem since the sequel (HI, MOM! in 1970) revolves entirely around his character. (And for the record, GREETINGS was the first film awarded an X rating, which says something about its content. It's not too explicit nowadays, but we're left wondering WHY De Palma had to cram so much unnecessary sex and nudity into his film, because it seems like it's just there for the sake of being controversial - and almost 40 years later it is not controversial anymore, which makes it all the more outdated and pretentious.)

Overall I was hugely disappointed in this movie. It's not funny. It's sophomoric, with stupid editing and direction (just watch the scene where De Niro and co. walk down a street and De Palma puts it in super-fast-motion - what the hell was he thinking?!). That, plus an unbearably outdated '60s overtone (and you thought EASY RIDER was outdated!) and truly awful theme tune (it sounds like the Beatles on drugs), make GREETINGS a truly disappointing experience.
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DeNiro is a natural comedian
davegrenfell19 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The most interesting thing about this early, cheap DePalma movie is DeNiro's performance, containing shades of his later work in Taxi Driver, The King of Comedy and Meet the Parents. In view of Greetings, and since it would appear the DeNiro didn't do the intense method preparation he became so famous for, we might wonder whether he actually isn't a very talented comedian who stumbled into method acting almost by accident (with a lot of hard work). Certainly his performance in Taxi Driver takes on a new dimension compared with his hilarious take on a Vietnam draftee pretending to be outrageously racist here. The careful, almost stilted speech he delivers straight to camera when he reads the sex book is reminiscent of the verbal fumbling of Rupert Pupkin. Indeed, his whole career is put into an entirely fresh perspective by this early, fresh performance, which is a must for anyone interested in his work.
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So when did De Niro learn to act?
counterrevolutionary4 January 2004
You know those smug, interminable hippie improv routines in BILLY JACK? The ones where you sort of get the feeling they're supposed to be comedy, but you're thrown off a bit by the fact that they're not actually funny? And then you think maybe it's supposed to be satire, except for the fact that it isn't saying anything about the real world or real people?

Put together ninety minutes of those things, and you've got GREETINGS.

People might look at my screen name and think that my dislike of this movie is based on its left-wing politics, but this film is no funnier (and no more meaningful) when making fun of hippies, JFK assassination bugs, or artistic charlatans than it is when making fun of "establishment" figures and soldiers.

Boring and pretentious, GREETINGS fails equally as comedy and as commentary.
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Greetings Greetings Greetings, would you like to go away?
Gloede_The_Saint9 December 2008
"Spend a couple of days with Uncle Sam"

Greetings is far from most other films on the marked. It has something you are most likely not going to see again. The film is apolitical, unpatriotic and probably very offensive to Americans (I'm Norwegian) The story goes like this. We have three friends Paul Shaw, Jon Rubin and Lloyd Clay. Shaw and Rubin are trying everything they can not to get drafted to Vietnam while Clay are obsessed with the Kennedy assassination. Anyways we jump around between these three characters as they jump through different events.

My personal opinion as a well established film fan is that this is black comedy gold. The many sketches do actually put together a pretty straight forward story, though a rather surreal one. It's hard for me to understand how so many people including Ebert got confused. But I have a tendency to understand most films I mean I though Southland Tales was straight forward and easy to get and I had only smaller problems with Inland Empire.

Still it should not be to hard to follow if you can put together scenes because everything fits rather nicely into the story and character arc though it is rather Pulp Fiction (so it could probably be described as a no plot film by some).

As for the "sketches" I do agree with Ebert. They do bring you back to good old classic comedy sketches with a even a direct spoof of silent films. Very original indeed, it did things many well respected films did years after. The main characters aren't all that likable in a traditional sense though you will like watching them. They are kinda the guys you love to hate to love to watch if that made any sense whatsoever .

Genius film. 9.5/10. I recommend it to people who doesn't always agree with the mainstream audience.
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Brooksy23 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
REVIEW OF GREETINGS Greetings was the debut Robert De Niro film so it will be hunted down by De Niro fanatics like myself. Greetings was also a De Palma film so that's another mob that will be hunting this film. But in all fairness, do hunt it, do watch it but don't pay over $5 bucks cause it ain't worth it. It's not the worst film that De Niro's done, Sam's Story takes that cake, but it's nowhere near the best.

While I did fine certain bits funny, The JFK conspiracy side to it was great. And some of the political sides to it were also intriguing but it was let down with really bad scenes. Random nudity while arousing has no point, most of the time it is quite boring to the point of being annoying and the end, where he makes Vietcong lady strip might have set out to be ironic, but ultimately is disturbing and stupid at the same time.

So do watch it if you want, it's up to you but trust me, don't let the De Palma+ De Niro equation make you salivate because you'll be disappointed.
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Irreverent (and Irrelevant?)
Guardia11 September 2008
"Greetings" sees a trio of awkward young men acting, well... pretty damn strangely in 1960s New York City actually! These guys are really at odds with their environment and culture. Their eccentricities begin as a source of humor, (even if they might represent the citizen who has "too much freedom"), but eventually, these habits become eccentric, obsessive and finally disturbing. This escalation of behavior might run parallel to Government and society at the time, what with the Vietnamese conflict and the unsettled political climate. Or, it might not! The "episodic" nature of the film, the way it presents scenes like flipping through a scrapbook, is an uneven method in which to present it's satirical comments. In other words: some work and some don't. Sure, I'm sure a lot of the scenes FELT right at the time, (and there is some nice energy to many of them), but unfortunately some of them lack a direction and fall a flat, (but it IS forty years old!).

De Niro has his moments too. A draft-dodging scheme he has is probably the best laugh in the film. His comedic skill is drawn upon fairly well in a number of scenes, (after all, he is the pervert of the group!). His friends are not as gripping though. A JFK conspiracy theory nut, (who is probably the most obsessive of all), lacks depth, and is really just there for a repetitive gag that didn't seem that clever to begin with. Likewise the "computer-date" enthusiast, who goes from nut-case to nut-case. He doesn't come across all that well either, and again, the same gag is dragged along for several evenly-spaced scenes.

One of the things this film does well is show you New York City unflinchingly. 1968 has been captured very well, and it's astounding to see how unpopulated and thoroughly modern it looked, even then. We see these three shabbily-dressed, purposeless, bumblers haunting the bottoms of skyscrapers and climbing across architecture, all while engaging in some stream-of-consciousness-type strange banter. Weird stuff.

The best things are the visuals, followed closely by some comedic flare from De Niro. But overall, it may only be those who have direct connections to this era or this city that may find a whole film out of "Greetings".
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Michael_Elliott11 March 2008
Greetings (1968)

** (out of 4)

Early Brian DePalma film has three friends walking around NYC talking about various subjects including how to dodge the draft and the Kennedy assassination. Most reviewers gave this thing glowing reviews and I'd been wanting to see it for over a decade now but it turned out to be a major disappointment. There really isn't any plot, instead just small sequences about various issues. Some of this is funny but most of it isn't. Most notable for being Robert DeNiro's debut and the first film to get an X rating. This is an interesting film but it should have and could have been a lot better.
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Terrible disappointing film
sfdphd5 March 2015
I know this was an early DePalma film, but yikes, this was terrible. If it didn't have DeNiro in it, I doubt anyone would ever want to see this nowadays. His performance shows promise of his future work.

However, the film itself was like a bad Laugh-In episode. The writer and director were obviously high on drugs when they put this thing together. It was like they just threw a bunch of current events into a stew, unoriginal and derivative of so many other things. They probably thought they were doing an homage to the film Breathless but really badly done.

The sexism in this film is offensive but true to the times. If you need to see why women and gay people needed to fight for their rights, this film shows you how it used to be when ignorant morons like these three guys represented the most common attitude. If you like references to the Kennedy assassination, the film Slacker by Linklater is much better.

If you're a real low-brow fan who likes stupid comedy that is trying to be cool, you might like this film. If you've got higher standards, this film does not meet them.
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Dated Controversial Film And De Niro's First Starring Role
Desertman8416 November 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Greetings is a film that stars Robert De Niro in his first major motion picture that has political and cultural themes during the 1960's when it was released such as the counterculture,the men who are trying to avoid the Vietnam War draft,attacks on the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson and the assassination of the late President John F. Kennedy that may well involve conspiracy theories. Brian De Palma directs for the second time in his career.

John Rubin,portrayed by De Niro,is trying to help his best ball to flunk the military test to avoid serving in Vietnam.Also,we get to see Lloyd Clay,who happens to be a paranoid as he believes in conspiracy theories behind the killing of JFK.

The film is obviously a dated.But nevertheless, one may remember it for De Niro's first major starrer as well as one of Brian De Palma's early works. In spite of having no plot and being uneven, it was definitely lively,funny and humorous.No Americans who saw it back then would have a good time seeing this controversial movie as it makes fun about political issues during its day.
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It's funny....not profound just funny
JasparLamarCrabb4 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Brian De Palma's early classic has so much going on it's difficult to not recommend at least some of it. Jonathan Warden, Robert De Niro & Gerrit Graham kick around NYC circa 1968 trying to avoid the draft. In between concocting various schemes to stay out of Vietnam, Walden tries computer dating (disastrous), Graham obsesses about the Kennedy assassination and De Niro begins to make "Peep Art"...stag films under a different name. A lot of GREETINGS is very funny and De Niro is a standout (so much so that he was given a sequel HI MOM release two years later). De Palma worked on the script with Charles Hirsch and though highly episodic, it's a great time capsule of 1960s anti-establishment.
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Greetings, hi Mom, and hello to you Vietnam.
tieman6414 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Brian De Palma's early films tend to deal with a very clear set of themes: homosocialised male power, voyeurism, sex and various gender conflicts, whereby all gender is a performance and white male heterosexuality needs to be rigorously, determinedly, infinitely reenacted to be maintained with any coherence, often by repeatedly destroying that which it defines itself against (homosexuality, femininity, the Other etc). Meanwhile, personal and social voyeurism (pornography, fantasies, government surveillance, an obsession with gazes, dreams, desires and watching) overlap, and his characters can often be found making their own movies, appearing on screens, doing their own prying, or displaying themselves as spectacle.

As an example of De Palma's early obsessions with gender construction, consider one of his later sex thrillers, "Dressed to Kill", where Michael Caine plays Robert Elliot, a trans-gender who epitomises a post 60s trend amongst transsexuals - and certain strains of feminism - to subscribe to pseudo-Freudian essentialization and a medicalization of gender and sexuality (medical understandings of the gay/transsexual rely on a collapsing of sex and gender). Here, Elliot's male body is literally possessed by Bobbi, a feminine personality which desires a sex reassignment operation so that Elliot may become a "woman" with "the right body". In other words, transsexuals are victims of a society which equates the genitalia with gender behaviour and confuses the organ with the signifier; ridding themselves of the organ they can thus supposedly be rid of the signifier which divides them. The film then enters "Scarface" territory. The transsexual, like the "normal" subject, searches for illusory wholeness which he/she believes will be attained by altering the body in order to possess "it", the "it" which in American society is invested with the meaning of the subject's whole being. Unsurprisingly, in real life, transsexuals more frequently wish to be "girls" rather than "women"; an attempt to ward of confusion and establish a pre-social self. The incapability of achieving discursive mastery is itself a common De Palma theme, the subject continually floundering in the dark to sustain his identity. For De Palma, traditional male subjectivity is predicated on the notion of male wholeness and feminine lack, whilst "Woman" serves as the Other for the male subject, a place where he projects and disavows his castration. As inadequacy continually feminizes the subject, the cycle must be continually repeated.

De Palma's little-seen early films, "Greetings" and "The Wedding Party", deal with similar material. "Greetings" revolves around a group of men who seek to avoid being drafted into the Vietnam war, and "Wedding" revolves around a group of men who seek to avoid being sucked into marriage. Both deal with men struggling to define and uphold masculinity, both star Robert De Niro ("Wedding" was his debut, "Greetings" was the first film to be given an X rating), both are shapeless, dialogue heavy, satirical, Godard inspired, experimental and revolve around various US counterculture movements

"Wedding" centres on Charles, a young man who is days away from getting married. He discusses his anxieties with his buddies and spends much time weighing the benefits of a bachelor's life against that of married men. In the end – like most of these post-feminism marriage movies from the 60s – Charlie opts for marriage and stability. But the film itself jostles between viewing both marriage and bachelorhood as a means of affirming traditional hegemonic masculinity; marry a woman and you're not gay, bed many women outside of marriage and you're a "real man". Women (see "Casualties of War") function purely as the site of exchange between men, and exist solely to be conquered and bolster manhood.

"Greetings" opens with a moment of typical De Palma reflexivity, the American President doubly framed (on TV) as he addresses the nation. His country is portrayed as a giant male fraternity, a band of brothers who, because they've "never had it better", should go abroad, define themselves as men and fight in Vietnam. The film's heroes, a bunch of lowly figures who've "never had it good", then set out trying to avoid being drafted. One even attempts to turn himself gay so that he won't be conscripted. In both films we see an obsession with male performance and its attendant anxieties, and a heterosexuality that defines itself by employing homosexuality to define itself against. Masculinity is itself portrayed as a masquerade and normative heterosexual manhood as an impossible, and impossibly maintained, ideal. As the "homo-social" is inherently incoherent and points toward untenable aims, it has a preponderance toward dissolution and a tendency to assimilate everything.

Furthermore, as the homosexual identity haunts the presumably heterosexual male identity, so too is the Government haunted or shown to be under siege. As a result the Presidency deems all those who oppose the Vietnam War to be "effeminate" and "sexualy deviant" (the Vietnamese are also feminized, emasculated heathens). The Government's obsessions with surveillance, spying and enforcement then becomes a form of gender anxiety, the State pressured to sustain and achieve national manhood (which in turns inspires racism and death wishes). In any male-dominated society, there is therefore a link between male homosocial desire and the structures for maintaining and transmitting patriarchal power.

"Greetings" ends with our draft dodgers in Vietnam. In a sublimated version of filmed murder, our heroes "film with a camera" a Viet Cong woman in the jungle. They order her to undress and pose, a scene which is juxtaposed with shots of an American woman manipulated into being photographed, both women's sexual exploitation linked to war, carnage and camera, and all other forms of masculinist cruelty and male obsession. Such scenes anticipate De Palma's "Redacted" and "Casulaties of War"; "war" as the mauling of the Feminine by hyper masculinity. In "Full Metal Jacket" one goes philosophically further, all modern, future warfare redefined as a benign, "feminine", merciful, conciliatory gesture, simultaneously disavowed and sanctioned.

7.9/10 - An occasionally interesting satire. Worth one viewing.
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