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You can skip movies 10 times but never go back.
During the Vietnam War, a soldier finds himself the outsider of his own squad when they unnecessarily kidnap a female villager. Based on the actual events of an incident on Hill 192 in November, 1966.
"Oh, God. I'm sorry."
at one point the military defense attorney shouts that being a witness isn't hazardous but De Palma would beg to differ. he tantalizes us by recording the hidden tunnels, enemies in wait either hiding behind us or looking just like us, codes we can't interpret. but this is a recreation of a real evil, not the seduction of images, and some things cannot be resolved or reconstructed, and so in a way this doubles as his confession, one that forces you to watch her but makes it impossible for you to save her.
"this kinda thing could cause an international incident"
ya... unjust wars tend to do that
This is the fourth film in my DePalma Deep Dive.
War is hell, and Vietnam is the devil's playground. And every playground has a bully.
When I first saw CASUALTIES OF WAR many years ago, I enjoyed it. Some things bugged me about it, but I thought it was one of the better high-profile war films. On this third or fourth rewatch, this time for the purpose of studying and understanding DePalma's full body of work, I found this film to be truly astonishing. Better than I ever remembered it, and far more polished than most of his work (that I've seen). It's a lean and focused movie -- no extraneous plot strands or surprise tonal shifts, which is he…
Some may be shocked by my 5-star rating and I certainly understand why. Now I can watch the goriest films ever made and not even blink, but when you include something like rape it turns my stomach a bit. We see things from the perspective of Private Max Eriksson who's played wonderfully by Michael J. Fox. Some might say that he was miscast here, but I'd have to disagree. You can't get more innocent than Marty McFly. Naturally, people will compare it to Platoon which is only 5 percentage points ahead on the tomato meter if you care about that sort of thing.
Most war movies focus on how violence is always the worst part of war and yet here…
Based on the notorious Hill 192 Incident during the Vietnam War in 1966, De Palma's Casualties of War takes on a much more serious and difficult subject than any of his other efforts and as far as I can tell seems to be his most mature work to date. In the leads we have the then up and coming Sean Penn and Michael J. Fox in some of their best roles and rounding it up with John C. Reilly, John Leguizamo and Don Harvey we have a solid supporting cast. It's a very performance-driven film and as such it was important to have a spot-on cast for which the director evidently had a fine eye. They may not be groundbreaking…
Sean Penn playing a violent, racist, rapist seemed like a perfect piece of casting by Brian De Palma. When it comes to playing intense psychos, Penn does make it all look remarkably easy. Gangster Squad and Colors, and being married to Madonna have all shown his tendency for portraying hateful characters.
De Palma's Vietnam-set film about the incident on hill 192 is one of those films that you wish was a piece of fiction. Vietnam was a cesspit, chaos in everything but name, where some young men lost more than just their lives. They have said countless times that humanity and innocence quickly disappear in a war-zone and that's the story here. When a squad of soldiers looking for payback…
Adept performances and direction by Brian De Palma. Many scenes in this film felt forced and unnatural, but Brian De Palma nonetheless succeeds in showing the futile, absurd randomness of war. Might grow on me more on a second watch. Not really a film about the Vietnam war but more about the choices one has to make to keep his morals or lose them in the face of flagrant inhumanity.
What would you do if you were at war, and the people on your side did something so horrible, it stood out among the standard atrocities of war? What if, by taking action against your own men, you could stop it? Could you? How far would you go to do the right thing?
I've seen many of the essential Vietnam war films: Apocalypse Now, Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July, We Were Soldiers. Casualties of War isn't focused on the usual aspects of the war, nor directly on the ways in which it affected those who fought in it psychologically, so in that sense, it helps to have seen those other films. It focuses on a 5-man platoon, led…
Has nothing on Greetings or Hi, Mom!, but this packs a punch and Fox and Penn are perfectly cast. Ending almost ruins it.
Hearts of Darkness
Part 19 of a Brian De Palma Retrospective
I’m returning to a similar hypothetical to what I used, like, two weeks ago for the start of my Wise Guys review, but here goes: if you had told me, years ago, that one of director Brian De Palma’s better films was a Vietnam war drama - one starring Michael J. Fox, at that - would I have believed you? And would I have believed you if you told me it came right in the middle of his “big, prestige director” phase? Well, maybe the latter – you don’t get the money to do a Vietnam movie if you aren’t going for prestige – but otherwise, no. Yet here…
Second viewing, first in 10+ years. Felt rather guilty for laughing at its pursuit of grand drama, but a lot of those scenes are hammy at best - craning down on Fox as he gives a speech about the added value of humanity during war time, presumably directed by De Palma to hyperventilate his words; also Penn telling the dying soldier that he’s doing just fine, beating the ground throughout - which ultimately draws the the ire of some bullshit like Tropic Thunder, Penn’s performance a bullseye for the mock Method crowd. Obviously this isn’t De Palma for-hire, his heart is in this material - evidenced by the truly awful companion piece Redacted - though the film might be hard…
(6/8 is "Very Good")
Well performed, tragic.
One of De Palma's best.
A fucking brutal experience, and maybe one of the few war movies that seems purposefully, masterfully designed to trigger what we might call the "right" empathic responses – pity, dread, revulsion, grief.
All the films mentioned by name in Kim Newman's definitive encyclopedia of horror films, Nightmare Movies. Well worth a read.…