A pair of rentals from the local video store really brought home for us the diversity of popular cinema ..... oh, and provided some entertainment in the process.
As noted in this post, the first was Juno, a new release on local rental shelves. Directed by Jason Reitman, it stars Ellen Page as the title character, a sharp-tongued and spirited teenager confronting an unplanned pregnancy. The second was Rambo, the latest installment in the popular series of action films starring the now-61-year-old Sylvester Stallone, who also directed and co-wrote the movie.
In just about every way, the second film was as far removed from the first as ... well as far away as warlords in southeast Asia can be from high-schoolers in Dancing Elk, Minnesota.
Vietnam War veteran John Rambo spends his retirement in northern Thailand where he's running a boating service. On the nearby Thai-Burma border, the Burmese-Karen conflict rages into its 60th year. A pastor enlists his help when Christian missionaries - who are ministering to members of Burma's Karen ethnic group - are kidnapped by Burmese soldiers in the process of wiping out the Karen village.
One thing to bear in mind is that this film is .... well, it's a Rambo movie. When film.com asked what his take on the film was, First Blood writer and Rambo creator David Morrell said, "Overall, I'm pleased ... this is the first time that the tone of First Blood the novel has been used in any of the movies ... it's not a 4-star movie - the villains are superficial, and the climax is overextended. But this is a solid three stars."
The film is rated R for strong graphic bloody violence, suggestion of sexual assaults, grisly images and language. My Favorite Landman declined to watch it, but Elder Son did watch it with me. According to this entry in Wikipedia, this latest Rambo movie holds the record with the most kills out of the entire Rambo series, with 262 kills and an average of 3.2 per minute; also the number is more than that of the previous three movies combined. After a while, ES commented that the violence seemed to go 'over-the-top' to the point of getting a little ridiculous. Early this year, when Stallone conducted the obligatory press conferences that accompany the release of new films, and more than once say that the level of violence in his latest movie was justified, and that it served to underline the ongoing problems in Burma.
And this raises an interesting point about the film - one made by Missioner in this post at West Texas Missioner - that what is depicted in the film is inspired by true events in that troubled part of the world, and needs absolutely no artistic license, no embellishment on the part of a Hollywood scriptwriter. Apparently, in the early stages of the script's development, Stallone consulted with Soldiers of Fortune magazine and asked one crucial question: where is the one place on earth where the worst atrocities are taking place and getting the least amount of attention? The answer was "Burma."
That may be changing ..... there was the coverage late last year of the government's brutal suppression of protests led by Buddhist monks in Burma. Then there was the government's response (lack of response?) to conditions following the arrival of Cyclone Nagris last month - in which more than 100,000 have died, so far. And now this movie, which has been hailed by those who know first-hand what is going on in Burma. The film has already proved to be a rallying point for many to decry the ruling junta. Today, Karen civilians are appealing to the world for assistance, warning that if the Burma Army is not stopped, they will soon cease to exist.
Try to imagine, Missioner asks us, what kind of person devotes a part of his or her life to relieving oppressed peoples on the far side of the planet ..... did Sylvester Stallone come to mind? He should.
As for the movie itself, I recommend it to anyone who is a devoted fan of the action film genre ..... but I honestly don't know if I can recommend it to anyone else.