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"After Dr Strangelove, nothing like a real human being ever appeared in again in a Kubrick film, except for Vincent D'Onforio's baby Marine in Full Metal Jacket, and I'm not sure his humanity isn't an accident of the absolutely inhuman way the character's treated."

"Stories begin with the question what happened, but they don't get anywhere until they start asking Why should we care that it happened to these characters?"

Do you think that the genius of this approach is a commentary on our incapity to truly take another's viewpoint? That he trusts, honors, or concedes to our conclusions?

Nancy Nall

The best part of that story is that it happened in a McDonald's.

"You'll never believe who I saw at McDonald's today! John Updike! Here in Indianapolis!"

Kevin Wolf

You're right about Kubrick.

Interesting take on this imposter movie, though I get the impression your review is more interesting than the film, a one-joke affair.

Mike Schilling

I like to imagine that a long time after she met the real Updike at a bookstore or college reading and got him to sign a copy of Rabbit at Rest or In the Beauty of the Lilies [...]

Do you remember when we met before? It was about five years ago, at a McDonald's in Indianapolis.

You must be misremembering. I don't eat at McDonald's and I haven't been to Indianapolis in, what, it must be twenty years.

No, I'm sure of it. I could never forget meeting you, John.


I guess your friend meant well, but wasn't it actually intellectual smugness?

Tom W.

I stood behind John Updike at in the ATM line of a bank at 43rd and Madison two years ago. I said "how're you doing?" He said "very well thanks." And then it was his turn. The guy is everywhere.


Hmmm. I've got a problem with your friend standing in for John Updike. Unless the woman was obviously demented and it would have presented a physical danger to your friend to disappoint her. Even if he intuited she was the type of person to damn her friends from then till doomsday with the residual aura of Updike, and determined she deserved a false foot that would crumble beneath her great granddaughter on Antiques Road Show. Even if he intuited that despite showing her his ID she would go home that evening with the story she'd met John Updike but he was in Clark Kent mode and had refused his true identity. Even if she was convinced he was Updike because he'd sidled up to her mother in a dark bar one night 20 years prior, observed she was carrying a copy of "Rabbit Run" and took the cloak of Updike, buying her a drink, and she'd had the bartender shoot a Polaroid of them together which she framed and put on the mantle but didn't go to bed with him as he'd hoped she would. Which couldn't be the case as he was in his thirties, so let's make that a drunk stepsister and shrink the timeline down by about eighteen years.


You know, I really hate to disagree with you, but as someone who spent a year in Vietnam and learned the truth of Churchill's statement that "nothing is so wonderful as the experience of being shot at to no effect," I have to say that "Full Metal Jacket" is the best Vietnam movie ever, and far better than a lot of the wastes of innocent film stock one calls "Stanley Kubrick movies."

of course, it helps that it was based on "The Short Timers," written by a Vietnam veteran. But allow me to tell all of you who never were in the military that the boot camp sequence is the most truthful bit of military film-making ever put on-screen. I say that as a creative person who realized 12 hours after saying "I do" that people like me have no business being in the military. I was "Joker" and I knew several "Gomer Pyles" (DeOnofrio's character) poor sad sacks who thought going in the military would get them past the failures of their lives. The only difference being none of them ever shot the recruit company commander.

As to the rest of the movie, I went to see it on opening day here in L.A. with a good friend of mine who was a Production Still Photographer, who had been "Rafterman" in Vietnam and had even fought the Battle of Hue in the 101st Airborne. Abbout ten minutes into the "Hue Sequence", mur friend turned to me in the theater and said "how the hell did they get all that grear Hue footage?" When I told him it was a British gas works 50 miles north of London, he was blown away. Every combat vetI've ever known says the combat sequences in this movie beat the hell out of that overblown piece of crap, "Platoon."

And the moment that makes this movie not just good, but fucking great, is the end. The guys (and us) have experienced the Battle of Hue, and they're marching down to the Perfume River, and they sing "The Mickey Mouse Club Song." That is the moment the movie becomes profound. The guys who fought in Vietnam were the kids who grew up on the Mickey Mouse Club and Walt Disney's mythology of America. And there in Vietnam we learned that there's a difference between loving your country and supporting your government. That song expresses the total innocence (an innocence so profound that when I and my old comrades look back on it we cannot believe it existed), that got educated to the truth in Hell.

Personally, "Full Metal Jacket," "The Killers" and "2001" are the only Kubrick movies worth watching - and 100 years from now people will watch them to understand what life was like back then.


BTW - only some moron who never was in the military would say that Lee Ermey's drill instruction was a "psychopath." He was actually a good guy. The point of all that training is to get you through the first 5 minutes of combat (the stuff you see at the beginning of "Saving Private Ryan") where you are so fucking scared, so absolutely terrified, that your brain doesn't work. At that point all that mindless follow-the-rules training kicks in, and if you're lucky, you survive those 5 minutes. Which improves your chances of surviving the rest of the year by about 80%.

That character was a guy who loved those kids enough to try and save them. I guess you have to have been there, and then to have experienced the value of it in retrospect, to figure that out.

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