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“Life is like a parade, and it’s one that most people watch go by. And then there are some that get in that parade. Those are the people who come away with something special. And don’t be afraid of your sensitive side. I used to be ashamed that I was so sensitive. I can see two dogs copulating and get teary-eyed. I find the least attractive men are the ones who have so-called machoness on their sleeve. They bore the living shit out of me.”
“Your dad drank coffee before you did. He has been drinking since before Starbucks was a small Seattle coffee shop and long before you stopped drinking Starbucks because it was ‘too mainstream.’ His cups were strong, each sip was an eye jolting, bitch slap to drowsy that firmly signified work was about to begin. You hipsters couldn’t sip from the same mug as your father. Your coffee is sweetened with unrefined sugar from a fair trade farm in small town South America where the workers are paid a living wage. His was black. You top off your lattes with a non-fat, non-dairy, soy, vegan foam. Your dad doesn’t know what a fucking latte is, nor does he give a shit to find out. He drank coffee to wake up, not so he could have a free place to steal internet while bitching about all the political change that needs to happen. So hipsters, next time you want to be a perennial bad-ass, reach for some Folgers and harden the fuck up.”
Over at Clothes on Film, Matt Spaiser analyzes Sean Connery’s clothing in Dr. No:
Throughout Dr. No, Sean Connery wears five unique tailored ensembles. Each outfit is simple, classic and worthy of imitation. The idea was to put Bond in suits that were distinctly British, but keep things simple because a secret agent should never stand out. Yet because of this simplicity, the clothes still look fresh today.
Now I want to read Spaiser, who runs the blog The Suits of James Bond, on Connery’s clothing in From Russia With Love, my favorite, and arguably the best, Bond film.
Related post: “Cary Grant’s Suit.”
Excerpts from Matthew Cheney’s extraordinary essay on Rambo II:
Rambo II is a movie filled almost entirely with enemies … Rambo is a character who is thwarted at every step by people who can only be described by a thesaurus entry: lying, untruthful, dishonest, deceitful, false, dissembling, insincere, disingenuous, hypocritical, fraudulent, double-dealing, two-faced, two-timing, duplicitous, perfidious, perjured; antonym: truthful. Early in the film, Rambo says to Col. Trautman (Crenna), “You’re the only one I trust,” and both that trust and his distrust of everyone else is revealed to be utterly justified—it turns out he’s been sent back to Vietnam to a camp where the military thinks no POWs are. The politicians want him to show the world that the camp is empty so that the war can be, along with its warriors, finally forgotten. When Rambo is spotted running with one of the prisoners, the commander who sent him into the jungle orders the rescue mission to abort, and once again the grunts are abandoned by their country. It’s up to Rambo to fix it.
But Rambo is more than just the Avenger of Vietnam. He’s also Natty Bumppo and Tarzan, the man who lives best outside civilization, the man whose superpowers come from mixing the best of the “savage” world with the natural superiority of the white man. He can’t live in the United States any more than Tarzan can stay in Wisconsin; he’s too pure, too truly, archetypally American for the fallen world the US of A has become since those perfect days of 1776. His final act, after killing hordes of undifferentiated Vietnamese and scheming Russians (thus avenging the failures of the Vietnam War and furthering the cause of the Cold War at the same time), is to return to base and blow away a room full of computer terminals with an M60E3 heavy machine gun. These are the computers that the (lying, untruthful, dishonest, etc.) Murdock had told Rambo were the best technology available, and thus the best weapons, to which Rambo said, “I always believed the mind is the best weapon.” Murdock replied, “Times change,” and Rambo muttered, “For some people.”
Because he rejects computers does not mean Rambo rejects technology. His mind is pure, but his hands are aided by weapons he and the camera revere, the tools that are an extension of his own perfection. An early sequence intercuts shots of Murdock and the computers with shots of Rambo preparing himself for battle. Trautman calls him “a pure fighting machine with only a desire to win a war that someone else lost.” (The fighting machine—Rambo as cyborg.) Moments later, after Trautman has said, “What you choose to call hell, he calls home,” and after a few brief shots of a jet engine and the plane itself being fueled (the machine, warming up), we cut to Rambo’s sweaty, muscled shoulder.
There is no hesitation, no weakness. He moves silently through the jungle, a force of destruction first against the Soviet soldiers, then the Vietnamese. He is silent and invisible. He molds the Earth around him—the landscape itself is his weapon, and he is an extension of it. He reaches out of the darkness like a deadly vine to pull one victim down into a crevice. He vanishes into the mud, like Predator or Swamp Thing. His bullets reach out from everywhere, and they never miss their mark. But bullets aren’t enough—he has saved his exploding arrow tips, and now they fly through the air, bringing immense plumes of fire to all the heretics. Water and fire dance throughout these scenes, culminating in a sequence at a waterfall where a Vietnamese soldier shoots ineffectively at Rambo and then is vaporized by the Arrow of God.
The scenes, despite how much I revile their morality and politics, still bring shivers to my spine, gooseflesh to my own so un-Rambo arms. No matter the tortured screams of my inner pacifist, the archetype of the individual laying waste to forces of evil remains gripping.
And they say film criticism is dead. Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing. Not only is it easily the best essay I’ve ever read on Rambo II (and I’ve read a lot of stuff about Rambo II), it’s a touching piece about the author’s father.
And don’t miss the related conversation between Brandon Soderberg and Benjamin Marra in which the term “New Wave of Hollywood Action” is coined, Cobra (a personal favorite of mine) is referred to as “one of the best action movies to come out of the ’80s,” and Stallone the actor is positioned as a Marlon Brando disciple: “All wounded, mumbly naturalism.” Soderberg and Marra sound like they’d be fun to hang out with.
I see too many dudes every day who have no idea what they’re doing: guys who have no idea how to dress, how to drive, how to lift weights, how to eat/drink, how to sit, how to listen, how to speak, how to spell, how to write, how to think for themselves, or how to even live their lives. I very, very rarely meet a fellow gentleman and then later think to myself, “He knows what he’s doing.” That sucks. Now, I don’t claim to know what I’m doing most of the time, but I’m trying. Please try with me.
In Hamburg in 1834, a handsome young army officer named Baron von Trautmansdorf challenged a fellow officer, Baron von Ropp, to a duel. The precipitating offense was a poem that von Ropp had written and circulated among his friends about von Trautmansdorf’s moustace, stating that it was thin and floppy and hinting that it might not be the only part of his physique to which those adjectives could be applied. The feud between the barons had originated in their shared passion for the same woman, Countess Lodoiska, the grey-green-eyed widow of a Polish general. Unable to resolve their differences amicably, the two men met in a field in a Hamburg suburb early on a March morning. Both were carrying swords; both were still short of their thirtieth birthdays; both would die in the ensuing fight.
—Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
You’re a big man, but you’re in bad shape. With me it’s a full-time job. Now behave yourself.
—Jack Carter (Michael Caine), Get Carter