Sunday, March 5, 2017

3 Short Paragraphs: Hacksaw Ridge

2016, Mel Gibson (The Passion of the Christ) -- download

I might as well get some more Oscar fodder into these posts, since the only cinema viewing I did for them was Arrival. This movie is the unexpected honour to a man that has not been very popular in Hollywood these days, after  alcohol abuse, anti-semitism and domestic violence. It's not like he hasn't been around, with acting in The Beaver and Blood Father but he hasn't been the most popular guy of late. Now he is back with a solid war movie and a lovely girlfriend on his arm, whose relationship, I have to admit, weirds me out. I am the first guy to admire a 50+ guy dating an under thirty woman, but when you see them together, there is .... no warmth, no connection, despite his statements about such. It reminds me of the look you see on the 5th wife of a polygamist cultist in a movie of the week.

Anywayz, I am able to separate art from artists, and I like war movies. And I also like the idea of highlighting a good man, as Hacksaw Ridge is about a war hero who didn't pick up a gun nor kill anyone. He spent his entire war (in this movie, a single battle) acting as field medic, running into the fire to drag back the wounded bodies of his comrades. And slap a grenade or two away, for the money shot in the trailer. I commend the movie for making this more about man of conviction, than about a man of God, despite the clear fact he is. The baggage of its director comes into play as we show a man beset by violence in his life, his own internal struggles, and the demons of his father who fought in the Great War. We are made to feel for these damaged men and commend them for overcoming their internal wars.

As a war movie, its pretty formulaic. Training scenes, self doubt, conflicts with squad mates and a later begrudging admiration, blood & guts and pirouetting bodies, unexpected heroism, tragic loss, etc. And every so often there is a scene, so lovingly shot, so beautiful in its choreography, it felt entirely out of place. Dude, decide what you want here -- parable story, tortured men or the beauty of horrible war. In the end, I came away satisfied by a good story about a good man, but bothered by Gibson's ... pieces. But why shouldn't a movie be by and about a trouble man seeking to be better? I am just not sure I believe Gibson.