Quick-shot Movie Review: Full Metal Jacket (1987)

“Full Metal Jacket” – (1987) – dir. Stanley Kubrick – starring Matthew Modine, Vincent D’Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey 

This is one of those aforementioned movies that I am mildly embarrassed to have never seen. I am not a big war film buff, but there a few I know I need to see. This being one of them. Kubrick is with a doubt one of the best directors in cinema, but he still only hits with me half the time. His direction is never under question, but the movies themselves are sometimes not my cup of tea.

This was one of them, but it was still an amazing ride.

The first half, a look into the horrors of boot camp, mind games, conditioning, and the government using human’s need for pride to turn them into killing machines is hard to watch. Young men that will gladly rip out their own guts and eat them for their country and ask for seconds, was wrenching, to say the least.

R. Lee Ermey as Sergeant Harman is astounding. I am amazed he didn’t have a coronary on set by playing that part. It looked hard but effortless for him. He was the embodiment of that awful human being. Even better still than Ermey’s portrayal was D’Onofrio’s Private Pyle. What a character. Vincent D’Onofrio has never been in a film that he does not steal the show in, and this is the one that assuredly made his career. Hartman’s treatment of Private Pyle is inhuman. The evil vomit that spews from the Gunnery Sergeant’s mouth is an act of violence. Racist, bigoted, horrible emotional violence. It works. If anything can wear a human’s soul to dust, it is weeks of physical and emotional abuse from the country you stand tall to defend.

The second half of the film, the wartime part, lost me a little. The sets were gorgeous, the action well-choreographed, the emotional scenes are done well. And maybe it’s because so many of these lines are so ingrained in society (or at least film buff society) but they feel trite by now. I may have just waited too long. The multiple scenes with the prostitutes didn’t bring anything emotionally to the film, and these scenes are actually the most dialogue in the second half of the movie. I really enjoyed watching Joker and his photographer Rafterman moving through the Vietnam war covering what was happening for the news, but I wish we had gotten more reporting of what was happening. It made sense that a lot of the war was men hanging out and hiding behind burned buildings and making sexual innuendo to each other, I mean, who wouldn’t. It almost seemed like a given, and they didn’t stick to any one conversation enough to make it feel real. I wish they had stuck with one or two locations or kept moving throughout the whole of the landscape.

I loved Kubrick’s choice to use sweeping and steady shots back and forth of the camera to show the actors working in the environment, instead of that war movie editing you get with quick cuts and jerky motion. We didn’t need that jarring effect here. He was lingering, leaving you to see the wonderful choreography and specific marks to make clean lines, depth of field, and show the beautiful production design. I bet these action sequences took forever to film, knowing anything about Kubrick’s predilection for perfection.

The plot and theme don’t need a whole lot of diving here. There’s not much to it, but it’s all you need. It’s a slice of life story, not a grand sweeping epic of wartime like “Doctor Zhivago” and not of one singular moment or turning point like “Dunkirk”. It’s a movie quite literally in two halves. It’s well done and slick.

The two standout scenes for me are the final scene with D’Onofrio’s Private Pyle and the sniper scene at the end of the film. These two scenes will stick with me because of what they represent, and they are represented by only a “look” given by the two actors in each scene. The first, Pyle’s final face of complete madness after being pushed to the brink during basic training. They accomplished what they wanted, they created a killer, but not the kind they were aiming for. They created a monster, one that couldn’t be stopped. The second scene with Modine’s Joker after he stops the Vietnamese sniper in the building. Earlier in the film, they talk of him not getting to see any action because he doesn’t have “the stare”. That thousand-mile stare that so many vets came home with after seeing too much action. Throughout the film, Joker seemed fine with that. He didn’t want that killer instinct, didn’t need to feel like he would kill for country. In the end, it’s the exact look he received anyway. No one gets out unscathed.

Quick-shot Movie Review: “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night” (2014)

This is a great first feature for director Ana Lily Amirpour. It has all the elements you want from a director straight out of art school. Haunting, beautiful, random, thoughful.

Unfortunately I have already seen “The Bad Batch”, this director’s second feature, which is in my hot list of top 20 worst movies I have ever seen…but maybe that’s better. It would have been so disappointing to see this great first feature and be excited for what great thing was going to come next.

The rule of thirds sits at the head of the table in this movie, and it gives me a photography erection the whole time.

I love the black and white choice for this one. It fits the mood and sits on the actors’ faces wonderfully. Not afraid to use grays, but keeps the black black. White is never blown out and never directs the eye far from the meat.

The opening sequence is my favorite part of the film, but sadly the feeling of the opening sequence also doesn’t quite make it all the way through the rest of the movie. That first shot of hot Iranian James Dean picking up a kitty kat on the streets of some oil rig town with French style Cafe music and a few Dutch angles to show you that you’re in a skewed world. Loved it.

The idea for the setting was great. Some fake iranian city called “Bad City”, where even with only a hand full of actors in the whole runtime, gives you a feeling that this town is their Gotham. Run rampant with crime, death, and debauchery.
It feels like it could have been filmed in the late 70s, especially with the fun nod to the music and style of a spaghetti western.

The Girl, played by Sheila Vand, was excellent. She had a soft look and an empty stare that felt innocent and mysterious. The idea of her stalking through the city in a chador cape riding a skateboard is an image that will stick with me in a great way. I love that she took something that signifies woman oppression, wore it as a symbol of strength, and rode around on what would generally be seen as a 14 year old boy’s transportation, to kill bad people, particularly men, with her vampiric prowess.

I would say the drug dealer was so cliché, but I have absolutely met many a drug dealer exactly like him. It’s a feeling, an ego that they feel they must have that comes with the need of having peoples lives in their hands, the lower they are on the food chain the more pompous. Makes for a great first kill, everyone wants this guy dead.

I had no idea where it was gonna take the vampire aspect. Giant fangs, shark mouth, subtle sexy suck? It was an adequate reveal, although the driveling drug dealer instead of an angry one seemed a touch too simple (and less rewarding)

The scene with the street rat boy stands out as excellent because of the horror elements without the need for death or blood.

I wish we had gotten a little more in the way of dialogue, even if it was trite philosophical mumbo jumbo about the meaning of nothing. The style over substance issue could have been fixed with a few well placed short conversations.
The last act lost the wonder of this weird spaghetti western, James Dean bad boy, foreign horror concept and decided to drone into dramatic love territory, without any love or expression of love. I do like that it kept everything muted and quiet, and didn’t give up and go for a punch in the gut near the end, but it seemed like it lost its voice a little as it went. Maybe a shave of 10-15 minutes?

There were some great transitions, one that stuck out was a zoom focus from tree branches to the industrial cityscape.

I didn’t realize until the credits that this was an American film, filmed in Bakersfield, CA…I know that shouldn’t matter…but it kind of does. While I was watching this I was thinking of how empowering this is and how hard this must have been to make in Iran. I was shaking my fist at the man with them. Learning this diminished that a bit. It’s still amazing for being a first time PoC woman director making a black and white horror with an all Iranian cast and language..that’s insane and awesome…but also, took the gusto out of it a bit finding out it wasn’t actually a foreign made film.

I enjoyed this one. It was slow and moody and very well directed. Minus a few dragging pieces here and there, I’d say this is one of the cooler vampire movies I’ve seen since “Let The Right One In”. Definitely recommend.

Recent Events Of August 1st-18th

What a lovely shining light during a dark time. URU, a long-gone live-ish game in the MYST universe, has chatter. A promise of new content. Things are changing. Lights are being flicked on and dusty hallways are being wiped down for the possibility of new exploration. For those of you that know about URU, come and join. For those that have no idea what I’m talking about…that’s okay. It is a passion of mine to have been involved in the MYST universe for 26 years. It is my Star Trek. It started with the discovery of MYST when I was only ten years old. I was hooked. Then came the novels, what a read! I logged in to AOL on my Windows 3.1 computer and found MYSTforumUSA, a chat room dedicated to the love of MYST. Riven and 4 more games came after that over the years. Uru was too far ahead of its time—a completely immersive, live, playing out of character arcs, discoveries, deaths, and gameplay. It was amazing. That spark dissipated for good around 2007 with the lack of paying subscriptions and the laying off of Cyan Inc. employees. After that, the game stayed alive only through the hearts of fans that continued to pop into the deserted virtual landscape of URU. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in there for over a decade. Now, the rooms are filling up again. Characters are coming in and out that play out a realistic dialogue that includes its players and has them help shape the future of the game. This reblog is by someone in the community who takes great care and time to stay on top of the unfolding drama. Even if you don’t play, click on over to Calum’s blog and watch a live story begin to unfold in a tech-ancient but gameplay-futuristic landscape. It is truly something to see.

Traveler's Cavern Log


I never thought this day would come. Greetings, all, I am Calum Traveler, and today I’m writing this post to express to you all something new that’s happening within our homely Cavern of D’ni.

New Ages have been announced to be unveiled on Friday, August 21st, at 1300 KI Time.

The following post is a recap of major announcements earlier in the month as well as today, the day I’m posting this new blog at something of a rather rapid fire pace. Please forgive the dust as I work on trying to make this place look okay.

Earlier this month at the August All Guilds Meeting, Patrick Dulebohn appeared and gave an announcement.You can read the established chat log here. Following this announcement came Mysterium, during which no announcement was made regarding the status of the Cavern.

Earlier today, 8/18/2020, barriers were finally observed as being…

View original post 2,006 more words

The Whistling Pandemic

I know the wind is one of the least enjoyed weather rumblings from our vocal planet, but I love the feeling of wind on my face. The wind is the breath of the universe. It’s especially pleasing when it surprises you with a quick change of direction, ever so slightly. You aren’t ready for it, your head wasn’t tilted the right way, and you get a nose full of air that makes you gasp. If fills you up, it tricks you, and for a brief moment, it feels like it has your life in its hands. Something invisible that you can feel. Specifically, I love the sound of wind through pine trees. It’s a constant hum that vibrates at the exact frequency of my genetic happiness. You can hear the world tell you its secrets as long as you are willing to listen.

But in these last months, the whispering nothings of our Mother Earth have taken a turn on my joyful respite with the encroachment of Covid-19. Like everyone else, I sit in a cocoon of unknowing and doomscrolling into the wee hours of the morning, wondering and worrying about the future of our country, of our families, and of our way of life.

When I do manage to make it out of my anxiety burrito, I always try for a satisfying walk. Living in a Los Angeles neighborhood surrounded by colorful flowers and hillsides overgrown with beautiful greenery, I love taking a leisurely walk in the hills to calm my nerves. Like many other places in the country right now, we have a solid 50/50 on who wears a mask and who doesn’t. I am a Type 1 diabetic, and I have been taking this quarantine very seriously. Too seriously, if you were to ask many of the people around me, I think.

I see the virus everywhere. Every article I see tells me that diabetics are dying in droves at all ages. The news is awash with entire families being scraped down to a few young sons and daughters. After the first month of building an end-of-the-world bunker, filling it with 32oz cans of dolmas and beans of every variety, I was starting to come down. The initial fear-based decisions were beginning to give way to rational thoughts on how to continue living at home. I needed out. I needed a walk.

I had my mask, a bottle of sanitizer for every pocket in my jeans, and a bag of gloves (in case for some reason I needed to help someone change a tire or help an elderly lady bring groceries in). The stress of getting my feet to leave the property made me feel tired from the get-go. My shoes were heavy, my face felt exposed, but eventually, I started to enjoy myself. My headphones were booming something as indistinct as a b-rate science fiction television show and I was on my way. I didn’t run into any people on the street for the first half of the walk.

Feeling happy that I had made it to the top of the hill, I looked at my surroundings to make sure no one was around and popped my mask off to enjoy the fresh air. The light breeze had been tugging at the corners of my face covering. That wind! So nice, so calming…until I turned the corner. A young man jogging up the hill came whipping around the bend, sans mask, and huffed and puffed himself right by me. Suddenly, I felt suffocated. All I could see was particles. Little dots of hot breath touching down on my shirt, in my beard hairs, and attacking me in a cloud of wet lung globs.

I kept walking while trying to talk myself down from the panic attack that was quickening my heartbeat and pooling sweat on the inside of my hat. It was too late. After that, I began to see people coming out of their homes and beginning their evening walks. They came at me like unmasked zombies in leggings. I zig-zagged across the street and made wide turns at every corner to avoid the hordes of infected laughing families with children screaming in my general direction. The wind changed. It now carried COVID-19. Somehow my life had turned into “The Happening”. How in the world did the worst movie I had ever seen, about the wind carrying a deadly neurotoxin plants develop themselves to kill off the human race, become a real-life feeling?

The wind was no longer my friend. That exhilarating feeling of having my breath momentarily stolen from me was now a nightmare and a very real threat. Now my life did appear to be in its hands. Even when someone was down the street fifty feet or more, I checked the wind direction by looking at the leaves, deciding when I should cross the street or go the other way to avoid the virus that rides the waves of the earth’s breath. Something I loved so much had taken a quick turn against me. Its whistling was the tune of the reaper, and it was being sung for me.
Fear and anxiety are a bitch.

It took me another few months before I was able to enjoy a neighborhood walk again. But, even as the COVID-19 numbers rise, I find myself more able to live in this new pandemic world that we are currently forced in to. Luckily, its people that we need to avoid and not nature. It doesn’t help living in one of the largest cities in the country, but I can now sit at my window and watch the palm trees sway to the currents of the air. I can make a trip to a less worn patch of the world and stand in the center of hundred-foot high pines and listen to the beautiful flow around my head. Its whistle is once again just the hypnotic lull of the universe. Its tune had changed to whisper warnings of our current situation, but once again has resumed its happy song.

Jojo Rabbit Review

So excited that I was able to see the premiere showing of Jojo Rabbit at TIFF tonight!

This was another of Taika at his best. Taking him back to his bittersweet indie roots, his storytelling and humanity shows through at every moment. A story of a 10 year old nazi youth in full swing of his country’s ideology indoctrination, he starts his journey with his invisible best friend Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi himself) going off to Hitler Youth camp. His mother is a wild and endearing woman with a playful attitude during this horrible time of war. The movie starts off hilariously, but it takes a little bit of time to allow yourself to feel okay laughing at this side of the german war and this little boy who wants nothing more than to do right by his fuhrer. After a terrible (and hilariously acted) accident, and the discovery that his mother is hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic, his ideals are turned upside down to the thoughts on the war he has grown up with. It’s a simple message delivered in a way that tells you what you already know. Facism is bad. It’s a story that Taika tells us needs to be told over and over again, because people easily turn a blind eye to the horrors of humankind, but heart and love can prevail. Roman Griffin Davis and Thomasin McKenzie are a great pair and carry the film with warmth and wonderful comedic scenes, but it’s Scarlett Johansson who leaves us with the memory of what it means to be on the right side of humanity, and to take life as it comes and teach your children what you can, when you can. Even surrounded by well-known and substantial actors, these two children stand out and bring the movie’s warm embrace. Taika is never afraid to lead with a joke, but he always takes the time to bring his message of humanity home by hanging on the sad moments of life too, not jumping over life’s tragedies to get to the next one-liner. He balances the good with the bad perfectly, leaving you walking away with a warm feeling in your belly.

Hugo Award Finalists 2019!

If you need a new list of books to read this summer, get on these before the awards in August!

Which have you read? Who do you think is going to win for Best Novel?

Best Novel

The Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)

Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager)

Revenant Gun, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris)

Space Opera, by Catherynne M. Valente (Saga)

Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik (Del Rey / Macmillan)

Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga)


Click here to see the rest of the categories and nominees!

Instaration #7

Writing is a release, a meditation. It’s a way to explore yourself and interpret the world around you. Keeping thoughts bundled and hidden only leads to an eventual unhealthy purge of emotions and worries. Writing, journaling, note taking – all these things set your thoughts to page. Purge the thoughts to page to exorcise your demons or give thanks to what you have. Either way, trapping the thoughts to words leaves your mind free to create even more.


My first instaration since my introductory modern calligraphy class. I haven’t had the time to practice much but this came from a very meditative day!

Queer up the classics

A FUN IDEA: Our favorite classic authors are our favorites for a reason, but because of the times there was a severe lack of gay characters and storylines. Taking your favorite authors from the golden age of sci-fi (from Asimov to Zebrowski), tell us your favorite story and explain in the comments how you’d “queer” it up!

– Idea from Queer Sci Fi!

Christmas Calligraphy Cards

Taking this beautiful Sunday to make some Christmas cards for friends and family for the holidays!

Using a stunning teal India ink and gold accents to bid my cheer.

The envelope was neon pink so I used gold and pink wax seals to finish it off.

This is the first time I’ve tried my hand at calligraphy as gifts and they turned out pretty great!

Check out the video timelapse and follow me on instagram @paulbbuttefield where I’ll add the photos of the cards (once the surprise wont be ruined)!