Full Metal Jacket (1987, Stanley Kubrick)

Slices of Cake


The eccentricity of Stanley Kubrick’s later career reaches what may be its confounding peak with Full Metal Jacket, his ambiguous Vietnam War film which is abstractly structured, only obtusely political, horrendously real yet disturbingly artificial (having been shot not deeply in Cambodian jungles but in an abandoned gas works in Great Britian), and overall a brief and throttling experiment. It’s overwhelming, and perversely beautiful in its awfulness. My stepdad served in Vietnam, was stationed at Phu Bai where much of this film takes place, and tells me it’s the only accurate movie about that war. The transition from first act to second remains jarring, but I’ve come around to it over the years — I realize now that it’s a cause-and-effect thing, that all the rhyming within what Private Joker sees and hears around him is how we mark the transition of men to machines, of sharpness…

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