Tigerland (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna
|Two thumbs WAY up from the Siskel and Ebert of
smut. We both loved it. Scoop's comments in yellow, Tuna's in white.
Quick, name your favorite Joel Schumacher movie. It's so hard to choose between 8MM, Batman and Robin, and DC Cab.
|I'm here to tell you
that has changed. After a lifetime of mediocrity or worse, during
which his top film was probably the barely average "A Time to Kill", and his
worst films are abysmal, Schumacher, at age 61, went and got religion.
He adopted some of the Dogme principles and made his
ownself a great movie. With no budget.
80% positive reviews and a 7.5 at IMDb! Of course, nobody has seen the damned thing, but the people who have seen it have loved it. Me, too.
Read the member reviews at IMDb.
Here's the Recipe: One Flew Over the Platoon.
Imagine if Randall McMurphy had dropped in to basic instead of the nuthatch. That's the movie. Private Bozz doesn't care how many times the sergeant kicks his ass, because what's the worst the Sarge can do? No matter what it is - even life in the stockade - it's still better than going to Vietnam. So if the Sarge kicks his butt, he gets up and makes fun of him, gets whupped again, and keeps doing it until the Sarge has better things to do. He can go to the stockade. He can get a psychiatric discharge. He can go to the infirmary. He can be in a world of pain. But none of those things are as bad as dying in 'Nam, and he knows it.
I know what some of you are thinking. "Why do I want to see another movie about going to basic training before getting shipped out to Vietnam? That topic is tired, and the ground has already been trod by some of the finest filmmakers of the past 30 years". I know, I thought the same thing. I also thought that I don't really want to watch a soldier movie, especially one directed by the guy that did Batman and Robin. Then I read that the movie was filmed with a zero budget, hand-held 16mm cameras in natural light, and shot in 28 days with unknowns, and I wanted to see it even less. Then, when I saw that it was shown on a whopping five screens, and was seen by fewer than 20,000 people, well, you can imagine what I thought.
Got the picture? I didn't like anything I read about this movie, and I only rented the sumbitch because it said "intense sexuality" on the box.
Know what? I watched every damned minute of it, and when I finish writing this, I'm going to watch some scenes again. I was especially astounded by the performance of Colin Farrell as Bozz. He's an Irish stage actor, and he transforms himself into the perfect independent-minded Texas boy. This fella may have a hell of a future.
I guess there is a lesson that I've learned from this experience.
If you have a realistic script with great characters and great performers, and the director lets the story unfold, and lets the actors act, you don't need a lot more. Schumacher was smart enough to know a great script when he saw one. Ross Klaven had never written a screenplay before, but he had this great yarn about a charismatic slacker named Bozz, who was based on a real character that he himself met in Basic, a guy who essentially saved his life.
Tigerland itself refers to a Vietnam simulation that the army built in the USA, somewhere in the Bayou, where some exercises used live ammo, and which provided a gritty and photogenic setting for the film's closing chapter.
Well done, Mr Schumacher. Well done indeed.
Tigerland (2000). I bought this based
on Scoop's review. Scoopy is right, and may not have gone far enough.
Schumacher became tired of doing the same old summer blockbuster
Hollywood formula films, and fell in love with the recent minimalist
work by Lars van Trier. This script was his perfect chance to attempt
that style. He and his DP elected to use hand-held 16mm for several
reasons. The camera could be more intimate with the action, as it was
smaller and easier to handle, the grainy effect made everything seem
more real, and the look was much like 1971 newsreel footage. He
assembled a cast of unknowns, then put them through a grueling 28 days
where they lived in terrible conditions, did their own stunts,
including fistfights that often left them bruised. They faced long
shooting schedules, scorpions falling out of trees, snakes, leaches,
etc. There is minimal music, and what there is is inspired by the
films of Kurosawa.
Meanwhile, civilians were still in
the post-pill pre-aids sexual revolution, and life was sex, drugs and
Rock and Roll. Those who returned from a Nam tour found unemployment
due to recession, and scorn from the average American for having
served in this unpopular war. By '71, it was
Add this to the list of films from last year that I liked better than the Best Picture winner. The DVD has a Director's Commentary, which was not inspired, but was very informative. Schumacher gives his reasons for all of his decisions in the film treatment, and a real insight into the times and the performers.
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