12 February 2007

89. forrest gump

i'm not really sure why this film is on this list. i like robert zemekis quite a bit, epecially in how he's able to use studio resources to make idiosyncratic films that somehow appeal to a huge audience. think of his other big tom hanks movie, "cast away". the majority of the film concerns hanks on a deserted island talking to a volley ball. and it KILLED. people loved it.
same thing here: he's making a film that's basically about a retard shuffling his way through history through no fault of his own. who would greenlight that? and yet it made $700 million dollars. not everyone can do that, but zemekis did it through his own sensibilities: hollywood production values, amazing visual effects, overbearing score, mix of movie stars and character actors, sweet nostalgia.
but i have problems with this film, mostly in that i think its in quiet contempt of america and the importance historical events of the past 50 years or so. how simple, how crass to condense such events like watergate, like elvis' sullivan appearance, like vietnam protests, as just by-products of a bumbleton's stumblings. that's pretty vile, as far as i'm concerned. also vile is the subtly racist and sexist undertones of the film: the stereotypical depiction of the black panthers, jenny's descent into drugs and forrest having to save her from herself over and over and over, because she's a fallen virgin who became a whore.
so i have serious problems with the content of the film and its contempt for culture (as well as counter-culture) in this country, but i do think the movie is well-written in structure and form. i don't appreciate the blatant tear-jerking, but the film does a lot of intangibles right: it moves FAST, covering a lot of years in a relatively short time with economy (50's to 80's with tonnes of history); it juggles a large and colorful cast with distinction and characterization (lt. dan and his backstory in particular); mixes public/historical and private moments with ease (going between forrest's love for jenny and meeting presidents, for example); creates iconic movie moments and quotes out of thin air ("run, forrest, run!"). and the use of voiceover is quite good, with forrest commenting subtly on the action, or creating jokes by speaking a line of dialogue right before its shown diegetically, or when lt. dan tells his troops "shut up!" and forrest starts whispering on the soundtrack. nice.
but much more interesting to me than the writing is certain technical concerns: the visual effects are obviously great, although they haven't aged all that well, with president's rubber-mouthed when speaking to forrest. i like the relatively long takes and use of cranes for floating-style shots. and although the score is AWFUL, the soundtrack of pop music is a fine survey of pop music from the last 40 years or so and comments on each scene rather faithfully.


Blogger sean said...

also vile is the subtly racist and sexist undertones of the film: the stereotypical depiction of the black panthers, jenny's descent into drugs and forrest having to save her from herself over and over and over, because she's a fallen virgin who became a whore.

I don’t see zemeckis’ portrayal of her as sexist at all. She got exactly what she deserved according to zemeckis' vision. that is-- she questions authority. she chooses intellectualism. she has dreams and plans. Big ones! What happens? She ends up plays guitar naked for a bunch of jerks with a drub habit and an abusive boyfriend.

meanwhile forrest does exactly as he's told. he is the hammered down nail properly in line with all the others. he listens to his mama, never questions authority, and is good to his fellow neighbor. He stumbles through life with little or no ambition and is rewarded with fame, fortune and national heroism.

the scary message here is that zemeckis seems to be saying 'hey, keep it simple and you'll be rewarded big time. don't get any ideas or dreams at all because you'll just end dying of aids.'

its the american dream. money for nothing and chicks for free. and that's why it was so damn popular. And scary.

--btw i'm just toying with this idea. i haven't seen this film in ages and the details i remember are fuzzy....but there's no school tomorrow (woo!) and i thought i'd give my two cents. it' been a long time since i've used my brain for film criticism and i thought i'd just try and engage you in conversation. keep it up man i enjoy reading your thoughts!

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