Saturday, May 30, 2015

Perfect Hair Forever

Fury: written and directed by David Ayer; starring Brad Pitt (Collier), Shia LaBeouf (Bible), Logan Lerman (Norman), Michael Pena (Gordo), and Jon Bernthal (Coon-Ass) (2014): Enjoyable WWII tank movie with new-school gore but old-fashioned morality: there are good guys and bad guys, and the job of the good guys is to kill the bad guys. 

Our American heroes, led by Sergeant Brad Pitt and forced to train new addition Logan Lerman on the fly, staff a Sherman tank dubbed 'Fury' in the last month of WWII, somewhere in Germany. They're town-hopping prior to Victory-Europe Day, and things are bloody as all Hell.

The acting from everyone is solid and sympathetic, though maybe we could have used ten more minutes of characterization and ten fewer minutes of apocalyptic battlefield action. Some of the tactical goofs will make military buffs cringe. This is another version of the old story of Horatius at the Bridge. And that story is dramatically sound no matter what millennium one lives in. 

The representation of tracer fire does make some battle sequences look like Star Wars. Especially good is a running battle between four American tanks and one ridiculously (and historically accurately) superior German tank. The final, 20-minute battle at the crossroads is about as apocalyptic as any battle involving only one tank can be. Recommended.


When Harry Met Sally: written by Nora Ephron; directed by Rob Reiner; starring Billy Crystal (Harry), Meg Ryan (Sally), Carrie Fisher (Marie), and Bruno Kirby (Jess) (1989): Nora Ephron penned this romantic comedy and Rob Reiner directed in style and structure as an homage to, or swipe from, a number of Woody Allen movies. It's gentler and less neurotic than a Woody Allen film would have been, however. Can men and women be friends without the sexual element creeping in? The movie actually seems to answer that question 'No.' Recommended.


Stir Crazy: written by Bruce Jay Friedman; directed by Sidney Poitier; starring Gene Wilder (Skip Donahue), Richard Pryor (Harry Monroe), Jo Beth Williams (Meredith), Georg Stanford Brown (Rory), Barry Corbin (Warden Beatty), Craig T. Nelson (Deputy Wilson), Miguel Angel Suarez (Ramirez), and Jonathan Banks (Graham) (1980): Imprisoned for a crime they didn't commit, New Yorkers Wilder and Pryor must escape from a Southern U.S. prison by using... a prison rodeo? OK! 

Sloppy, funny, and occasionally thrilling buddy movie teams Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor at a point when Wilder was at his height as a box-office presence. You can tell the latter because he gets to sing the title song and gets the girl in a completely perfunctory romantic sub-plot. 

Pryor does what he can, though his massive talents are massively under-served by the script. Sidney Poitier directs (!) in an amiable but occasionally sloppy style. And who doesn't love Grossburger? The great Jonathan 'Mike Ehrmantraut' Banks plays a fairly significant role. Good luck recognizing him, though -- he's 35 years younger and hiding behind a cowboy hat and sunglasses. 

A remarkable-for-its-time sympathetic portrayal of a gay inmate gets undercut to some extent by an almost stereotypical confusion of 'gay' and 'transvestite.' I'm pretty sure this movie represents the first time I saw a naked woman's boobies on the big screen. Yay me! Recommended.

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