Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

13 July 2008

Been Busy

My dear Intro students had their first paper due on Friday, and so I've spent the last two days grading 40 papers.

I didn't see Hellboy II this weekend, though I meant to. But I did watch a couple movies at home. First, Kimberly Peirce's soldier story Stop-loss. I had a strange journey watching this movie. It has stars I like (Ryan Phillippe, Channing Tatum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Victor Rasuk) but I didn't get into the movie until around the thirty-minute mark. It's just so hetero. Soldiers, buddies, (Texans), supporting one another and getting into bar-fights and coming home to their fiancées. And then there's the war itself. The war in Iraq is fucking depressing. I don't know, the whole idea of the film made me kinda bored and turned off. Maybe I wasn't really thinking about what I knew the movie was going to be about, but I was surprised when (of course) Ryan Phillippe's character is stop-lossed and then he goes AWOL. The drama gets really great from this point and the movie starts to become the kind of anti-war film I would expect from Kimberly Peirce. It's still very Texan, and the characters don't all become likeable or redeemable. The truth is that this isn't really my kind of war film. I'm a Thin Red Line, Kingdom of Heaven, Jarhead kind of guy: I want pretty pictures and poetry. But I was very, very moved by Stop-loss. There's a rather long sequence in a hospital where Phillippe goes to visit Victor Rasuk, a guy who was in his platoon, that had me in tears through the whole thing. This is an excellent movie. The acting is top-notch all around, with memorable performances from everyone named above. Leading lady Abbie Cornish is quite good, too, and there are some fabulous performances even among most of the side players: Ciarán Hinds, Linda Emond (love her), Mamie Gummer, Laurie Metcalf, and Troy Kittles. Don't miss this one.