Friday, February 15, 2013

Day Forty-six - Biloxi Blues, or "For some reason, my memory told me this was Cadance."

For the longest time, I thought this and Charlie Sheen's 1990 film, Cadance, were the same movie.

It's weird. I remember seeing the poster for Biloxi Blues hanging in the extra panels of those mall map kiosks at Southlake Mall in suburban Atlanta, and I remember Charlie and Laurence Fishburne doing their bit with the chain gang song, and that's it.

In my memory, the two were one and the same.

Of course, I was tremendously wrong.

For one thing, Biloxi Blues is a film adaptation of Neil Simon's coming of age stage play where a New York Jew goes through basic training. Not to say that Cadance isn't an alright film (I probably won't find out any time soon as it's not on Netflix), but Biloxi has a better pedigree when it comes to its author (I say that with no intended slight to Gorgon Weaver).

For another, while Charlie probably has more notoriety and a wider movie catalog, the 80's were Matthew Broderick's time. Be it Project X, Ferris Bueller, or Wargames, you cannot say that it wasn't his decade.

This entry into his filmography is decent enough, but is really rather lacking in comparison. Especially to Ferris Bueller. Granted, it's better than Project X, but at least in that film I was able to go goo-goo over a young Helen Hunt (she's still a fox, by the way... or, was the last movie I saw her in, As Good As It Gets).

Anyways, back to Biloxi Blues.

A sort of ensemble film, where a group of fresh recruits to the Army at the tail end of WW2, with Broderick as its main focus and narrator, Biloxi is a tale of "America, The Melting Pot," as the core six all come from different places and have a hard time coming together as a unit and as friends.

Of course, it doesn't help that Christopher Walken is their drill sergeant and takes an instant disliking to both Private Jerome (Broderick) and his fellow Jewish compatriot, Epstein, who is an odd fellow to say the least.

I like Chris Walken's character, but I never really feel a sense of menace from him, not even towards the end of the film where he confronts the two New York misfits in a drunken stupor where he is brandishing a gun and threatening their lives.

To be honest, I couldn't tell if he was homicidal, suicidal, both, or neither and just joking. The entire sequence of scenes during the climax and falling action felt more like a somewhat boring, somewhat disingenuous dream sequence.

Really, Walken had nothing on R.Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket, but maybe I shouldn't compare the two.

I did feel that the homosexuality subplot could've been handled better... and the romance between Daisy and Jerome was limited to montage and one dance scene that really should've dominated (or at least had parity with) the entire second half of the film, but oh well... it's Simon's play. Can't fault him for his artistic choice.

I just would've done it different.

It's an interesting commentary on America in the 40's, multiculturalism, and sexuality, but really fails to deliver on its key conflicts. I wanted more from Walken, but such is life.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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