Bad/Awesome Flixxx Review: The Deer Hunter (1978)

"A deer has to be taken with one shot. I try to tell people that but they don't listen....I'll tell you, Nick. You're the only guy I go hunting with, you know. I like a guy with quick moves and speed. I ain't gonna hunt with no assholes." - Michael

"I like the trees, you know? I like the way that the trees are on mountains, all the different... the way the trees are." - Nick

"You gotta learn, Stanley. Every time you come up here, you got your goddamn head up your ass. Every time he comes up, he's got no knife, he's got no jacket, he's got no pants, he's got no boots. All he's got is that stupid gun he carries around like John Wayne. Stanley, see this? This is this. This ain't something else. This is this. From now on, you're on your own." - Michael

This one is heavy. Its one of the first movies that came out about the Vietnam war and it gets a ton of flack from people because a number of things in the movie are not historically correct and at times even made up. But I personally don't think it takes away from the movie. And it must not have bothered a lot of people at the time either because it won 5 oscars. Regardless, shit was heavy and bad over there and the soldiers went through a lot of shit. This movie is fucking epic. And I don't just mean in scope, I mean its epic in scale, its three hours long! But rest assured, if you want a long cold blue sunday picture, this one will GET YOU! Heavy as anything I've watched in a long time, Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken and Meryl Streep in THE DEER HUNTER!!!

The movie is shown in three parts or Acts. Act I starts out in Clairton, PA when a bunch of steelworkers get off work, with 5 or 6 good friends going to celebrate. Its a two part celebration as three of the friends are going off to Vietnam and one of them is getting married before he goes to a chick that's pregnant with some other dudes baby. Before they leave the friends are planning a big deer hunting trip on one of their last nights in the country. So the first whole hour is devoted to this really big wedding. The ceremony is straight up Russian Orthodox. Big and ceremonial. Then there's a huge after-party and these few scenes last right around 51 minutes! But the whole time we are building who these characters are. Nick (Walken) is the suave dancer, the intellectual. Michael (De Niro) is the quiet, strong, loner, central character. Steven is the younger, pushed around type. Nick's girlfriend is Linda (Streep) whom Michael obviously has feelings for. There's a tense scene when a soldier comes in to the VFW for a drink and the boys are drunk and try to "cheers" the guy, but he just says, "fuckit.". They get pissed and mock him, and its pretty clear that they have no idea what they're about to get into. The next day they go hunting and Michael bags a deer with his "one shot" technique.

Very abruptly we are transported into the heart of Act II. Michael is coming to on the ground on the outskirts of some burned down village with a flamethrower in his hand. He sees a Vietnamese soldier shoot a lady holding a kid. He kills him and then crazily a helicopter lands with reinforcements 2 of which are Nick and Steven. They are then captured and held along the river under a crude shack soaking and tied in the water and tortured. They are then forced to play a game of Russian roulette while the Vietnamese soldiers bet on who will die first. They see soldier after soldier die, and Steven freaks out. Michael tries to console him but Steven is picked next. He almost dies but grazes his own head and is left out with the rest of the dead bodies as punishment. Next up is Nick vs Michael, but Michael devises a plan to put 3 bullets in the gun. After they shoot two and neither dies. Michael shoots one of the captors and they kill all of them and escape. A helicopter picks them up, but Steven falls and Michael goes to rescue him. Nick thinks they're both dead and freaks out wandering around Saigon until he falls in with this bad french dude who persuades him into becoming a willing contestant in the roulette games for lots of money. Michael keeps missing Nick and is eventually sent home. 

In Act III Michael arrives home and his friends have put together a big party in his honor. Upon arriving home he asks the cab driver to drive past his house and down the hill to the edge of town where he checks into a hotel. He's having a very hard time adjusting and he's just not ready for a big shindig. So after they leave he sneaks back home and surprises Linda at the door. She's very happy to see him, and you can tell very quickly she is confused about her feelings toward him again. She likes him but she knows she loves Nick but who knows if he's ever coming back. At one point she just wants to spend the night with him so they can "console each other". Michael finds out that Steven is back and he tries to get everyone to tell him where he is. His wife is catatonic and he finally gets a phone number out of her. Steven is glad to hear from Mike, but is so afraid he'll come to the hospital he hangs up quickly. Mike goes and gets Steven who is now legless and makes him get out of the hospital. He's treated like a hero around town, but he can't shake the fact that Nick made him promise not to leave him over there. So he goes back. 

In a flash we are back in Saigon and Mike starts looking in the seediest places. He finds the French guy who runs the shows and pays him shitloads of this money that Nick had been sending to Steven in the hospital. The guy eventually reluctantly agrees to take him to Nick. So they go to a place and after much haranguing Mike is allowed entry into the roulette games. He doesn't see Nick and searches the place. Finally he finds him and Nick doesn't even recognize his own best friend. He has really nasty track marks up his arms and we are led to believe that he's heavy into heroin. Mike enters himself into the game against Nick to try to jog his memory. I won't tell you what happens, but I wanted to comment on the epilogue. I don't think it'll spoil anything if I don't say too much, but just in case you haven't seen it: *****************SPOILER WARNING!!!!!!!*************** Ok, my only problem with the epilogue is not the fact that they SING God bless America, its how fucking cheesy it is. They SING God bless America! At the dinner table over breakfast after a funeral. If I were there, I probably would have just gotten up. I guess I've never been the most patriotic, but that shit just seemed cheesy as hell. I read somewhere that they thought people wouldn't like it because they maybe thought they were taking the piss out of it, or maybe might think they were being blasphemous or something like that. I just think its lame. But that was a different time I guess. I've never in my life wanted to sit around and sing that song for no reason whatsoever and I'm not anti american. I just think all of those old timey patriotic songs are cheeseball. BUT BESIDES THAT- You should definitely see this flick. Its pretty incredible. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Gerald Abernethy