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Deer Hunter *PBB

 

Note: Some reviews were written before we just about gave up on Hollywood--just like one of those couples that think, "This time it'll work out." These reviews may not be as bitter as the Bitter Balcony norm, and are noted by: *PBB (Pre-Bitter Balcony).

Deer Hunter
Directed By: Michael Cimino
Story by: Michael Cimino and Deric Washburn
Released: Feb. 23, 1979
Won 5 Oscars upon a host of other awards.

This is less of a review and more of a criticism from a (mostly) writer's point of view. I intend to give my opinion - an act which will not earn me many friends. Specific plot points may be discussed, so if you have not seen the movie and still want to stop reading and go rent it. Don't worry; we'll be here when you get back.

I used to work at a video store. In this video store we had a few customers that were regulars. Among these there was one guy. Cool, very level headed, guy. We struck up a chat once and he mentioned that he was in Vietnam. He discussed in some detail what he saw and what had happened to his friend's mental state during and after the war. It was an interesting conversation that ended with him recommending Deer Hunter saying, "it is the closest thing I have seen to what it was really like being in Vietnam." I was intrigued, but life was a little busy at the time and this was a movie that I actually wanted to sit and give my full attention, as opposed to watching it in the store, which is virtually impossible sometimes.

Here we are 12 to 13 years later, my god to think it has been this long, and I have finally seen it. I didn't hype it up in my mind, but just rented it to finally see what it was like. What I caught was brilliant performances by a largely talented cast, but ultimately it wasn't what I had hoped for. Read on for details.

In the opening hour of the movie it focuses a lot of it's time on the friendship between the main cast members and some of the supporting cast. However, because of the way it is shot I was under the impression that these were all going to be the main cast members throughout the movie. Unfortunately, this was not the case. I think it is good fun to see these people how they were before some go off to war and their lives are changed forever, but it is just too much time. The movie runs at almost 3 hours and I have to say that there is not enough content to justify it.

Robert Deniro plays a disconnected character by the name of Michael, which while compassionate still seems to keep everyone at arms distance. His motivations are a bit unclear throughout the movie. Never malicious, but sometimes you just can't tell. It works at times but at others I found that I was wondering what it was he was after, specifically, with his relationship with Meryl Streep, playing Linda, in the third act. I can't tell if he is trying to finally court her or if he is so damaged that he can't get back to normalcy.

I also feel that the movie spend too much time on scenes that were less deserving than others. The wedding in the beginning was one case, while entertaining; I would have liked for it to have been cut and focused more attention on the Vietnam aspects and the third act.

I can't tell if it is story structure or the way the movie was edited, but I also felt that there was an imbalance here, too. Scene end oddly, others start just as strangely. I would have to give it a second look to be able to dissect which one to blame, but there is something amiss here that was pretty evident to me. Along with this I can say that the direction was not the best. It wasn't bad by any means, but it lacked that certain something that I think this story deserved. Shot selection was mediocre and pacing never felt natural.

As far as the journey that each character goes, you can totally see how these stories were either lifted from reality and/or an amalgamation of a few. Comparing it to what I had heard from the Vet that recommended it I can see how people will travel down these roads.

It would have been nice to get more of a focus on some of the other characters as well since Michael was hard to read. A little more focus on John Savage's character Steven that looses an arm and both legs would have been interesting since he rejects going home completely. He prefers to stay in the hospital where he believes that he won't be judged.

At one point shows Michael a drawer full of cash that was mentioned to have come from Christopher Walken's character Nick, but that too is not focused on. What is Nick's motivation for this since he rejects Michael's coming to save him later in the story? Why does he recall Steven and not Michael? I know he was drugged up, but there must have been some logic still available there.

In the end, what you get feels like fragments of the real meat of the story told through remembrances of random events over the course of three hours. I am not saying that this movie is bad. It is a good story and I'm glad I have seen it, but it does make me want to have known more about certain things (important things) and less about trivialities. I also wish that it felt smoother to watch.

While on the subject one has to mention that the entire cast did a tremendous job and the fact that awards were spread around this movie like sugar on powdered donuts seems to be a great choice by the academy. As you have read I can't particularly agree with the direction and editing awards, but this is my opinion and opinions are known to vary from person to person.





Source of the Bitter: JAS

 

Note: Some reviews were written before we just about gave up on Hollywood--just like one of those couples that think, "This time it'll work out." These reviews may not be as bitter as the Bitter Balcony norm, and are noted by: *PBB (Pre-Bitter Balcony).

Deer Hunter
Directed By: Michael Cimino
Story by: Michael Cimino and Deric Washburn
Released: Feb. 23, 1979
Won 5 Oscars upon a host of other awards.

This is less of a review and more of a criticism from a (mostly) writer's point of view. I intend to give my opinion - an act which will not earn me many friends. Specific plot points may be discussed, so if you have not seen the movie and still want to stop reading and go rent it. Don't worry; we'll be here when you get back.

I used to work at a video store. In this video store we had a few customers that were regulars. Among these there was one guy. Cool, very level headed, guy. We struck up a chat once and he mentioned that he was in Vietnam. He discussed in some detail what he saw and what had happened to his friend's mental state during and after the war. It was an interesting conversation that ended with him recommending Deer Hunter saying, "it is the closest thing I have seen to what it was really like being in Vietnam." I was intrigued, but life was a little busy at the time and this was a movie that I actually wanted to sit and give my full attention, as opposed to watching it in the store, which is virtually impossible sometimes.

Here we are 12 to 13 years later, my god to think it has been this long, and I have finally seen it. I didn't hype it up in my mind, but just rented it to finally see what it was like. What I caught was brilliant performances by a largely talented cast, but ultimately it wasn't what I had hoped for. Read on for details.

In the opening hour of the movie it focuses a lot of it's time on the friendship between the main cast members and some of the supporting cast. However, because of the way it is shot I was under the impression that these were all going to be the main cast members throughout the movie. Unfortunately, this was not the case. I think it is good fun to see these people how they were before some go off to war and their lives are changed forever, but it is just too much time. The movie runs at almost 3 hours and I have to say that there is not enough content to justify it.

Robert Deniro plays a disconnected character by the name of Michael, which while compassionate still seems to keep everyone at arms distance. His motivations are a bit unclear throughout the movie. Never malicious, but sometimes you just can't tell. It works at times but at others I found that I was wondering what it was he was after, specifically, with his relationship with Meryl Streep, playing Linda, in the third act. I can't tell if he is trying to finally court her or if he is so damaged that he can't get back to normalcy.

I also feel that the movie spend too much time on scenes that were less deserving than others. The wedding in the beginning was one case, while entertaining; I would have liked for it to have been cut and focused more attention on the Vietnam aspects and the third act.

I can't tell if it is story structure or the way the movie was edited, but I also felt that there was an imbalance here, too. Scene end oddly, others start just as strangely. I would have to give it a second look to be able to dissect which one to blame, but there is something amiss here that was pretty evident to me. Along with this I can say that the direction was not the best. It wasn't bad by any means, but it lacked that certain something that I think this story deserved. Shot selection was mediocre and pacing never felt natural.

As far as the journey that each character goes, you can totally see how these stories were either lifted from reality and/or an amalgamation of a few. Comparing it to what I had heard from the Vet that recommended it I can see how people will travel down these roads.

It would have been nice to get more of a focus on some of the other characters as well since Michael was hard to read. A little more focus on John Savage's character Steven that looses an arm and both legs would have been interesting since he rejects going home completely. He prefers to stay in the hospital where he believes that he won't be judged.

At one point shows Michael a drawer full of cash that was mentioned to have come from Christopher Walken's character Nick, but that too is not focused on. What is Nick's motivation for this since he rejects Michael's coming to save him later in the story? Why does he recall Steven and not Michael? I know he was drugged up, but there must have been some logic still available there.

In the end, what you get feels like fragments of the real meat of the story told through remembrances of random events over the course of three hours. I am not saying that this movie is bad. It is a good story and I'm glad I have seen it, but it does make me want to have known more about certain things (important things) and less about trivialities. I also wish that it felt smoother to watch.

While on the subject one has to mention that the entire cast did a tremendous job and the fact that awards were spread around this movie like sugar on powdered donuts seems to be a great choice by the academy. As you have read I can't particularly agree with the direction and editing awards, but this is my opinion and opinions are known to vary from person to person.





Source of the Bitter: JAS

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