July 16, 2008

Short Cuts: "The War in Vietnam?"

Forrest Gump (1994). Directed by Robert Zemeckis; written by Eric Roth (screenplay) and Winston Groom (novel); starring Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, Robin Wright Penn, Mykelti Williamson, and Sally Field.


  1. I'd forgotten what a repulsive film this was. Thanks a LOT, Daniel...

  2. I don't COMPLETELY concur with Marilyn, but for all the amazing movies that came out in 1994...how did THAT get Best Picture?

  3. You guys are insane. I just got all weepy here at my desk.

    "That's all I have to say... about that."

  4. Haha, Marilyn, I wouldn't have necessarily pegged you as a Gump hater, but I'm sure you're the type of person who has valid reasons. I still love it, even though it's getting harder to ignore the flaws everytime I see it.

    Is 1994 the greatest year of the generation, Hatter? I think Gump was commercial enough to pull it off before the indie scene really exploded. Shawshank and Pulp Fiction both had the nomination, but they were, I think , just too obscure at that time. Thanks for commenting!

    Truth be told, Nayana, this isn't even one of my favorite scenes from this movie. Like probably not even top 5. But, as I was walking by the reflecting pool the other day, I couldn't help but think about it (and all of the other famous speeches that have happened there).

  5. I told you, Daniel, I had forgotten - blessedly. Zelig meets Rain Main - not my idea of a good time or a way that I want the average American to be represented. Are we really our best selves when we are childlike? I personally am sick of America's immaturity.

  6. What the hell!!?? Why the Gump hatin' Marilyn? I must COMPLETELY disagree and side with D here. So what if Gumpl is "simple", he's awesome and DOES represent the best of America...

  7. Beav - That's fine. Movies are personal, a matter of taste, and I'm very clearly in the minority on this one. I don't mind simple characters, but Hollywood almost always does them poorly. Either they make them noble (like Gump) or they treat them like pets. Rarely are they actual human beings on screen. That bothers me.

  8. I've always considered this one to be not much more than an entertaining fable - clever, good-natured fluff. As to whether it reflects poorly on American values, I hesitate to offer an opinion (I'm Canadian, eh!), but I am surprised at how polarizing this movie appears to be to you good folks south of the border.

  9. I kinds agree with Dan. There are surely great components, but somehow this film has lost its luster. Tarantino's film of course should have trumped it for the Best Pix Oscar. GUMP is full-blooded Americana, but it utilizes its shares of contrivances, methinks.

  10. I'm back in the Twin Cities, and I must say that, as with Rick, I'm a little surprised that Gump is such a divisive movie. Marilyn is in the minority here, but I bet she represents a significant group of people. Who knows, as Gump isn't really discussed much these days.

    I personally find it really interesting, Marilyn, that the character of Forrest Gump remains in your mind as a heroic one held by our country as an example. Not that you're wrong at all (his heroism is the center of half the movie), it's just that I remember it more in the manner that Beav and others have mentioned here: a fluffy fairy tale, albeit it one that I do think contains real emotions covering a really fascinating period of American history. Despite all the issues it touches on, I wouldn't consider it "preachy". That being said, your point about America's immaturity is really interesting to me. Maybe we don't talk about this movie because, despite the similarities of the current day, the story is completely unrealistic.

    I go back and forth between Pulp Fiction and Shawshank, Sam. The former ended up being the more influential film, but the storytelling in the latter is legendary in my mind.

  11. Daniel - Because Gump didn't actually have the experiences the film inserts into reality, he remains, essentially, an everyman character who experiences the convulsions of his time with the innocence of, say, Chance in Being There. He brings back to those fraught times a gauzy nostalgia they really don't deserve, in my opinion. I have a similar objection (only stronger) to Life Is Beautiful because I don't believe that the Holocaust should ever be depicted in fairytale terms. There are some things that are too ugly to try to put a bow on.

    I will say that one scene really moved me, when Forrest says to Jenny that he may be a simple man but he knows what love is. That felt like a real person talking to another real person.

  12. That really is a great scene, Marilyn. Speaking of Jenny, I thought she was one of the strongest (and most real) characters (and I'm also a big fan of Robin Wright Penn(?)) - honest, unpredictable, and complicated.

    I think I see where you're coming from now re: Forrest's place in history. I'm going to make a big HUGE stretch here, but I think my reaction to a lot of television is like your reaction to some of these movies. Half of these shows about things that I consider macabre ("Dexter", CSI) or just wrong ("Desperate Housewives") are comedies.

    Like I said, it's a massive stretch because those TV shows are meant to be based on reality in the same way as the movie.

    But I basically understand that you think the aura around Gump (both the character and the themes in the film) are, for the most part, made up too sweetly within the context of the real issues that are presented.

    You could actually consider this clip a good example of that...

  13. Yes indeed you could.

    The TV shows you mention carve out much smaller chunks of reality and put certain types of people in an unrealistic light. I have never watched "Desperate Housewives" because I find the concept revolting, and have only seen a couple of "Dexter" episodes because the hubby likes it. Watching serial killers isn't my idea of a relaxing night at home, but then, there are very few TV shows that earn the Ferdy sealof approval. My home is sacred space to me.

    CSI, in my view, is a science/Sherlock Holmes show for nonscientists that is sometimes unnecessarily gruesome. At least it is showing a real profession in action. I got bored with it as a police procedural. There's only so many of those you can watch.

    I enjoy scifi shows a lot because they are fantasy, and I can really relax with them. One quasi-scifi show I've been recommending if it is shown in reruns is "Jeckyll," a British miniseries about a modern-day Jeckyll and Hyde. It has, I think, the edgy appeal some people find in "Dexter," but Hyde avoids doing more than severely skirting the line. He never becomes utterly unsympathetic.

  14. Wow, I completely and utterly agree with your first two paragraphs. Can't say anything about Jekyll as I didn't know about it, but the way you describe it makes it sound pretty interesting.

    For me, the problem with the police procedurald is not just that they're boring, but that after about 2 seconds I am distractingly irritated by the idiotic writing (dead body in the gutter = "Looks like she took a wrong turn last night..."; headless remains in a duffel bag = "This guy really lost his head, didn't he?"). Anyway, not to go too far off on a tangent. I just can't pass up an opportunity to criticize canned TV shows.

  15. Yup, the writing can be really lame. The hubby is always complaining about the "Lenny" lines, a la Law and Order, of the kind you jsut mentioned. I was such a huge fan of Jerry Orbach, however, I thought he did them about as well as anyone possibly could. I still miss him.

  16. Not to veer off from that interesting discussion you are engaged in with Marilyn, I must say I can fully understand you going back and forth from Tarantino to Darabont, Dan. The storytelling there was indeed a stellar adaptation from King, a rarity.
    One of my closest friends rates SHAWSHANK as his favorite film ever--it does have that kind of emotional connection to many people.
    I rate the best film of 1994 as Kielowski's RED (Rouge), followed by Andre Techine's WILD REEDS, Kar-Wei's CHUNGKING EXPRESS, and the two that you are torn between here.

  17. Not to take anything way from Orbach, but even his delivery of them annoyed me. Oh well, that's why I don't watch those shows - just a matter of preference.

    Wow, Sam, you definitely mix up the typical top 5 of '94 there! I haven't seen any of those 3, but I know WKW fans love Chunking. I have to admit I was too young to appreciate many indies at that time, so my top 5 of '94 are more "favorites" than they are "best movies":

    Dumb and Dumber
    Hoop Dreams

    Only Pulp and Shawshank would I consider really groundbreaking as far as the storytelling goes, but Gump featured some pretty amazing production work.


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