3 November 2014

Hell Hath No Fury

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There's a person in my life who I can't stand. I won't refer to them by name but if you're reading this, you leather-faced old bitch, then I hope you fucking die. Just so that you have something to imagine, she's coated in three inches of fake sun-tan and has wrinkles so deep that she looks like a satellite photo of a mud slide. If you can picture a pair of testicles that somebody has stuck some googly eyes and a frowny face onto then you're pretty much there. Anyway, the hag pisses me off to the point that often I'll call somebody up to vent to. On one occasion this just happened to be my Mum where I said that I wished that this person would get stabbed in the face and bleed to death. That was fine. Then I said that I hoped they'd get cancer of the soul, painfully slip away into the afterlife and then spend an eternity boiling in a pool of hot, molten shit. It was at that point that my Mum started having a go at me for wishing cancer on somebody. Where's the fucking consistency there? Apparently it's okay to hope somebody gets a sharp blade jammed into their face but not to wish they get a fairly common disease. My Mum said it was different because anybody can get cancer. Who'd have thought that saying "I'm pretty sure anybody can get stabbed in the face, too" would lead to such an argument?

Anyway, as it turns out, my mother was actually right and hoping that somebody gets their face gouged off isn't that bad after all. I don't know if you've heard of it but there was this big hoo-hah back in the olden days called ‘World War 2’ in which the government sent young boys off to do just that to one another. In many ways, it was the difficult second album to what had already been arrogantly named the Great War. So it's 1938, you're working in a mill being told that murder is wrong, then suddenly it's 1939 and you're randomly in a field in Germany, caving a teenager’s head in with a rock. It's a funny old world isn't it?! Anyway, so that's basically where the David Ayer tank film Fury begins as Brad Pitt lunges out from nowhere and jams his knife into some bloke’s eyes. The movie tells the story of Pitt and his gang who ride around Germany in their tank blowing the living fuck out of anything that gets in their way. The War is almost at an end and (spoiler alert) we're close to beating the Nazi's for good. However, despite this, there's still work to be done and even though they're driving an inferior vehicle to their enemies, Pitt, his gang, and the newbie Logan Lerman, have some killing to do. Lerman is replacing a previous member of their team who seems to have kindly left his face and entrails as a memento in the tank. I don't want to sound like I'm jumping to any conclusions here but I kind of get the feeling from this film that War might not be fun? I've never been in one so I suppose it's not for me to say, though I do have a few racist soldier friends who seem to be having the time of their life right now.

In many ways, Lerman's character is our way into this film which, despite claiming to be set in Germany, seems to take place squarely in Hell. The opening title depicts the land burning under a deep red light as the soundtrack booms with the kind of music that you'd only screw to if you were attempting to conceive the anti-Christ. Pitt and his crew are all hardened to the violence and misery around them and so when they see a blooded slither of somebody’s something sprayed out on the ground they don't even flinch. Sadly for Lerman's character though, he's new to all this deathy bullshit and so has a bit of a hard time dealing with it. When presented with a dead body, I think I relate more to the chap who sicks all down his own tits than I do the nutter who wants to stamp on its already lifeless head. It's Pitt's job therefore to take Lerman's pissy little bitch with his issues regarding the inhumanity of war and turn him into the kind of kill-crazy sociopath who will essentially never again be mentally sound or comfortable within our society. To be fair though, both actors and characters are great with Pitt playing the kind of man that you probably would follow to the end of the world despite his obvious issues. Lerman too is more than relatable and seems to have become an expert in displaying the cold, dead stare of a man who is losing his soul. In case you wondered, I actually walked in on my Dad having a shit last night and have coincidentally been displaying a similarly haunted look myself today. I guess everybody has their traumas.

Even more shockingly though is that this film also features Shia LaBeouf who not only isn't shit but is actually really good. I mean, he's essentially playing the same character that Barry Pepper did in Saving Private Ryan, but for a man whose now more famous for being a prick with a bag on his head, this was still impressive. Speaking of Saving Private Ryan, I've read a lot of reviews that claim Fury is just another war movie that exists in its shadow. This is true to a degree in that it's grim, its characters are similar-ish, the colour scheme is basically the same and both movies forget that America didn't fight the war single-handedly. However there are vast differences between the two films, too. I mean, this one doesn't feature a cameo from Ted Danson for a start. Oh, and this one is set in a tank. I guess that's about it really but you know.. it's still good. 

In fact I think it's Das Boot that I've heard this film compared to quite a lot with it being about a group of men fighting a war in a claustrophobic killing machine. However, it kind of reminded me more of George Romero's underrated zombie film Land Of The Dead as both films feature a cool looking tank which appears to be travelling through what looks like the apocalypse. There's also a Sam Peckinpah thing going on here as we see a group of manly men, fighting impossible odds through a mist of testosterone. In fact, one of the biggest things that I feel is wrong with this film is that it randomly goes for the all guns blazing, Wild Bunch style of ending. I don't have any problem with this generally, it's just that for a movie that's been at pains to base itself in the world of the gritty, it seems odd to conclude with Brad Pitt machine gunning down an entire army. Imagine if the final third of Saving Private Ryan had been confused with a script for a particularly shitty Stallone film and that's kind of how jarring it was. It's kind of a shame too because there was a moment before the final battle where everything seemed to be winding down to a Butch Cassidy style freeze-frame which would have been so much better. Not only would it have been more in-keeping with the previous two hours but I also like it when a film delivers a mildly ambiguous ending, to the annoyance of an audience of idiots.

Oh, and whilst I'm lightly slagging Fury off, I think the other problem with it is the music which is just non-fucking-stop for the full two hours. I mean there's probably too much music in most movies but this one’s taking the piss a little with it. Have you seen Nil By Mouth? In it, Ray Winstone swears constantly with every other word being "fuck" and "cunt". As a result of this, when he actually gets angry, he has no way of expressing the emotion through language because he's already used the more extreme words that anyone else would way too casually. That's kind of like what the music is like here as even in scenes where not much is going on, its volume and emotion is set to eleven. It's like a tank rolls through a field and they're playing the kind of themes that you'd lay over a particularly gassy Schindler's List shower scene. Then something sad does happen and all it can do is play that same kind of music again making the whole thing just a little bit annoying. Instead of music, they could have just hired some bloke with signs to run past the beginning of every scene informing what emotion I should feel. I know it's upsetting to see innocent people die in horrific circumstances and so I don't need some tit with a demonic orchestra to let me know every three fucking seconds.

I did love the film though, so don't let all that sound like I didn't. Those are two issues in what was otherwise one of the better war films of the last few years. I'm quiet a fan of director David Ayer and thought his movie End Of Watch was ball-tinglingly brilliant. I haven't seen his previous film Sabotage which seemed to get savaged by the critics but for me it seemed that every bad review made it sound brilliant. I do love classy films but for me, the moment in Predator in which Carl Weathers and Arnie's handshake turns into an arm wrestle may be one of the greatest scenes in cinema history. As such, a critic writing that Sabotage is just your ‘typical, violent Arnie film’ only makes me want to see it even more. Anyway, I'm starting to waffle. My point is that I like David Ayer and this film only goes to reinforce that. Although, for the record, it isn't as brilliant as End Of Watch. I also like Brad Pitt and as war-films-to-feature-him go, this is leagues ahead of the indulgently long and hugely inconsistent Inglorious Basterds. His character here is a little more nuanced than Aldo Reines was, oh, and also, there's a shirtless scene which is just mental. I mean I'm not gay and this technically shouldn't improve a film for me but have you seen Pitt without his top on? I mean fucking hell- it's like somebodies cloned a man from a sliver of Hercules’s ballsack. I thought Hitler was talking crap about his Aryan super-race until I saw a shirtless Pitt fighting for the resistance. I'm 26 right now and it's odd for me to look at a bloke in his fifties and know that even if I was hit by fucking gamma rays, my body will never look as good as his. But anyway...

So yeah, you should check this film out if you haven't already done so. The end might be completely fucking stupid but the tank action before that is all brilliant. I'm also a fan of films about male bonding and that's definitely something that this film excels in depicting. Some people think that Pitt and LaBeouf's characters were secretly gay with each other but I just think that's the homophobic interpretation of an audience who can't see two men care for each other without assuming they must also be shaft deep in each other’s anuses. If you're thinking of joining the army then I suggest you watch this movie first and especially if you were hoping to join it during the Second World War. All films claim to be anti-war but accidentally glorify it at the same time. Check out the heroic deaths and poetic imagery in things like Platoon and Apocalypse Now and tell me I'm wrong. Failing that you should just read the book Jarhead which is the autobiography of a soldier and where I stole that point from. However, I don't think that this film glorifies it at all because it's just so fucking grim. I wonder how many people would be put off from joining the army after viewing this film? It has the potential to save lives with its depressing representation of combat. At the very least though it reminded me that according to the government, my mum was right about the morality of wishing a knife to the face versus cancer on somebody. Anyway, thanks for reading motherfuckers and see you next time!

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