Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Ulzana's Raid (1972)
Well done. Very even handed.
I finally got to watch this movie last night thanks to Netflix. It wasn't what I was expecting. Made in 1972 I expected some type of simplistic left-wing hand-wringing allegory about the Vietnam War and the inherent evil of European culture vs. the Noble Red Man. Something along the same lines as the awful "Soldier Blue" (1970) or the better, but still hopelessly biased "Little Big Man" (1970). However I didn't get that at all.
"Ulzana's Raid" doesn't candy-coat either side. There is no simplistic paint strokes applied. The Apache Wars in the southwest in the late 1800's were brutal. No quarter was given and none was expected. Both sides were certain that they were right and their opponent was wrong and both sides were motivated by the belief that they were superior in terms of their civilizations and racial beliefs. Both sides committed atrocities, both sides could be both vicious and brave, both sides had blood on their hands.
The one thing that I came away with was that the fighting in Arizona was a guerrilla war. An undeclared war that was vicious and cruel and which the movie conveys very well. If there is any allegory to Vietnam I would say that is it. War is horrific and fighting one isn't a pleasant task. Decisions have to be made that often result in death, but those decisions have to be made and people have to follow the orders of those who make those decisions. Both sides.
Well done film. At times unpleasant and disturbing, but also thoughtful, intelligently written and balanced.
'Breaker' Morant (1980)
A dangerous profession. In many ways.
First of all let me get all the mandatory praising out of the way. This film has several brilliant performances,it's writing is witty and intelligent. I own it and I can't count how many times I've watched it, but I never tire of it. Now for weightier matters.
This movie definitely addresses the issue of ethics and morality in wartime. it's shows that soldiering is a dangerous profession in so many ways. One will often have more than one foe. There is the armed foe that one has been sent to fight and then there is one's superiors and peers. Warfare is the business of nations, which means there are often many things on the table besides defeating ones enemy. Politicians have a way of changing their objectives and not informing the soldiers of the changes. Previously condoned behavior can suddenly become "inconvenient" and the soldier find him or herself the scapegoat.
What I get from this superb movie is that sacrificing one's own beliefs and ,doing what you know to be wrong, because one's superiors say it's all right, is a dangerous thing indeed. It isn't worth it. Warfare is a grim activity. Killing and survival often are and holding on to one's ethics are often the only thing one may have. As I said earlier, danger for a soldier doesn't always come from the enemy, sometimes it comes from ones own. Never sacrifice your morals for politicians,they aren't worth it.
The Yakuza (1974)
Takes it's time, but it's worth it.
Note: This is partially an older review that I wrote ten years ago on Amazon.com.
This movie is one of the best action films to be made in the seventies and late sixties. It stays away from the anti-establishment preachiness so popular during that time and goes for classic hard-boiled action. As noted by others it also explores the concepts of honor and friendship.
During this time period several of Hollywood's older leading men who had been real studs in the forties and fifties (Robert Mitchum, Bill Holden, Brian Keith ) were turning out some superior movies with intelligent scripts. The Yakuza is no exception. In this story there are two wildly different cultures clashing, but also finding much in common. Two strong-willed and principled men working together, even though at first they dislike one another, both always having to work at staying true to their principles while dealing with the world they live in and others who are not so principled.
Some might find the message that violence and vengeance have a place in the scheme of things ,and can be cleansing, to be disturbing. It needs to be understood that this story is about two warriors(essentially). The pure warrior strives for perfection in many pursuits, but pacifism isn't one of those. When one is betrayed then retribution must be dealt to the betrayer and sometimes honor can only be restored by cutting off one's finger.
To a Western viewer much of this is inconceivable - we're all too enlightened anymore. Several years ago my wife watched this movie with me and her response was "gross". She loves the Lethal Weapon movies - which have as much substance to them as cotton candy. The Yakuza is a much more solid piece of film-making in which the violence has a place. I found it to be restrained and not gratuitous. It does not indulge in death and mayhem for their own sake. Barely noticed when it was first released in 1975 the movie has gone on to spawn numerous imitations. For example Black Rain which is a handsomely produced and enjoyable action flick, but once you watch The Yakuza you'll see it for what it is - an imitation. One that was attempting to capture the superficial elements without covering the greater in-depth points. Watch this movie if you get the chance. You might be surprised.
Hickey & Boggs (1972)
Very interesting. Not flashy or pretty.
I've been hearing about this movie for years. A couple days ago I spent the three dollars on Amazon and watched it. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
The first thing I noticed was that this was not a movie about pretty people living the glamorous life in Los Angeles. Our two protagonists do not live well. Hickey (Bill Cosby) evidently owns two suits. Boggs (Robert Culp) is only seen in the same blue suit. Their vehicles are wrecks - on their last legs. Both men are weary and just grimy. There is even one shot in which we can see the sweat stains on Bogg's shirt.It's apparent that if the movie came with smell Hickey and Boggs would need showers.
One also gets the definite impression that the movie was filmed when it was hot in L.A. and there was no air conditioning available. Windows are open to catch what breeze there is and the air looks like you could cut it with a knife. There is absolutely no effort to make Southern California or our heroes look clean and neat. Wilted is the word that comes to mind.
And they aren't they only ones .The police officers and much of the general public look the same way.
Considering that in the early seventies Southern California was still considered to be the land of milk and honey to many Americans the decision to show the wormy underbelly of the state was daring.
Our heroes are not slick, perfect men. Neither are in very good shape. At one point Boggs breaks into a run, but soon gives it up. They aren't very good shots with their revolvers (a refreshing change of pace actually) and they more or less stumble onto many of the leads in the course of their investigation.
When the story ends they haven't accomplished anything except to kill the three mob soldiers who dog them throughout the movie. They save nobody, the mob remains untouched, and they might very well be looking at time in prison. At best they'll probably lose their private investigator licenses.
It's been said before, but this movie would never get made today. At least not as a mainstream movie. There is no satisfying conclusion. The villains continue to prosper with only a few low level "torpedos" and a middle level manager dead. The female ,who at first one thinks might need to be helped by our intrepid P.I.'s, soon turns out to be as bad as everyone else.
Jaded and cynical, but I liked this movie. It was smartly written and had a bite to it that one doesn't find anymore. In 2011 movie characters are perfect. Even the villains are perfect. In 1972 there was still room for the ordinary, sloppy, imperfect people.