MovieNugget reviews

0-9 - A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Apocalypse Now (1979)

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Starring Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, Frederic Forrest, Sam Bottoms
Written by John Milius and Francis Ford Coppola
Music by Carmine Coppola and Francis Ford Coppola

Bat-shit barmy war film has somehow transcended its notoriously insane shooting difficulties to emerge as a true war classic and, fittingly enough, provides a telling commentary on the insanity of war by proving itself to be equally bonkers. Coppola, who seemingly is unable to make a decent film these days, provides impressive spectacle without the aid of CGI (most modern directors would soil themselves at the thought) and squeezes a memorable performance out of Martin Sheen who plays a captain sent up river to dispatch Marlon Brando's Colonel who's gone completely nuts amongst all the carnage.

Martin Sheen is ready to strike after camouflaging himself in pygmy shit
The film struggles with a straight narrative and some would say gets completely derailed by its conclusion, but the strong performances, eerie atmosphere and stunning, Oscar-winning cinematography by Vittorio Storaro should see most viewers through. Personally, for this simple-minded viewer, Apocalypse Now stands head and shoulders above more heavily-awarded fare such as Platoon or The Deer Hunter. Brando might have been a royal pain-in-the-arse on set but he delivers a typically stand-out performance that out-weirds the weird, and with a drugged-out cast that includes Dennis Hopper that's saying something. But every one of the strong supporting cast (including Duvall and his famous 'napalm' quote) each get their moment to shine.

"I should have two goddamn Oscars on my mantlepiece by now, kid!"
Possibly a little too cerebral for some who prefer the guts and grue of Saving Private Ryan, this landmark achievement ranks up there with the first two Godfathers as Coppola's best work.

Best bit
has to be the chopper attack to 'Ride of the Valkyries', but I also have a soft spot for a lot of Brando's scenes ("the horror...")

Iconic moment
Sheen emerging from the mud

Worst bit
excluding Redux-added scenes, the Playboy bunny show is a bit unnecessary 

Best line
"Saigon...shit; I'm still only in Saigon..."

Best performance
Probably Robert Duvall, just pipping Marlon Brando at the post

Francis Ford Coppola, for seeing the damn project through, making a brilliant film out of the madness and putting up with Brando's BS

What would have made this better
not much, and certainly no newfangled bullshit like 3D or CGI - more of Duvall's Kilgore perhaps

What would have made this worse
if it had been directed by Michael Bay

Companion film
not the Redux version, for God's sake - Born on the Fourth of July, perhaps?

What to watch instead
if you want a more straightforward war story, then go with Saving Private Ryan

If you liked this...
watch The Conversation, The Godfather and The Godfather Part II to remind yourself how awesome Coppola once was

+ awesome imagery that still boggles the mind today
+ brilliant performances abound, especially Sheen, Duvall and Brando
+ has a truly unsettling and off-kilter (drug-fuelled?) vibe
+ superb use of music, especially the opening
+ so many iconic moments and scenes

- some people will be put off by the weirdness of the final third
- the Redux version is unnecessary - stick with the original
- hope you don't mind a bit of cruelty to animals

Rating on the Marlon Brando/Colonel Kurtz level of bat-shit insaneness:

No comments: