Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Ideals are peaceful. History is violent.

Possibly as you read this, my eighth grade honors Communication Arts (fancy, no?) class is reading The Diary of Anne Frank. Somewhat mercifully, I've been given the play version (with accompanying pictures of Natalie Portman as Anne) to work with, which means it won't take months for us to complete. But, that also means that the students will read the entire thing aloud. Waiting for That Kid to yet again realize it's his turn has me losing kids by the page. Surprisingly, I've been blessed with an unexpected ally to engage the enemy my students: Brad Pitt.

Fury, written and directed by David Ayer, is the perfect film - assuming you're a middle school boy. While the fourteen year-old version of m.brown would have likely loved this film, the grown up version merely liked it. Maybe even more than a friend.

Set near the end of World War II, Pitt plays Don, the hardened leader of a veteran tank outfit. Don's motley crew has seen it all, and newcomer Norman is overwhelmingly the odd-man out. In fact, Norman's first responsibility is to clean up the remains of the man he's replacing, which may be the easiest thing he does that day.

As Norman gets acclimated to the atrocities of war, Don takes the kid under his wing as they head into the heart of the shit. It seems as if the entire crew hates Norman, or at the very least resents him mightily. But after a few intense battles and close-calls, all is quickly forgiven. Norman is part of the team.

Pitt may be on the poster, but Logan Lerman (playing Norman) is the pulse of the film. While the trials and tribulations of being the reluctant rookie surrounded by barbaric veterans feels like nothing new, I was engaged in the story regardless. I'm not sure Fury has anything new to say, but it all moved fast enough I really didn't mind lending an ear. I understand how my eighth graders loved it, as it sometimes feels like an introduction to the war genre.

If only you were meeting the Yays and Boos for the first time, you might not know how stupid they are. Fine, they're not stupid-stupid, but they're not exactly the first ones you run to when you need answers, you know? Hmm...that's exactly how I'd classify 99% of my eighth grade boys, oddly enough...

  • While the level of violence, in my opinion, manages to be overstated and frivolous (an odd mix, I realize), it's jarring nonetheless. Remember that guy in The Patriot who got his head blown off by a cannonball? Well...he's got company. In Sudden Movie Decapitation Heaven.
  • Shia! Dude, I had pretty much given up on this guy after Nymphomaniac and his weird performance-art bullshit a few years back (I'm not even mentioning a certain trilogy he was a part of) I honestly felt like he had stolen something from me. But after his role here? We're totally even-steven.
  • There's a bit where they liberate this German town that is pretty f--king intense. Too bad that guy with the busted wing couldn't have stayed a little longer.
  • Even though the majority of minutes spent with her are impossibly uncomfortable, Emma was a beautiful young woman. Norman the mad fat chick-killer.
  • That tank v. tank battle was the right kind of ridiculous.
  • And finally, characterization. Initially, I loathed the ragtag crew of the Fury, as everyone outside of Don and Norman was involved in a photo-finish for Douche of the Year. Eventually, however, each guy turned into not only someone that I liked, but someone that I understood. 

  • Norman's initial hesitation, while understandable, is heart-breaking.
  • Killing an unarmed soldier? Awful.
  • Norman's nickname is Machine. Clearly that has nothing to do with his sexual prowess, unless he was built for speed.
  • I kind of mentioned it earlier, but the momentary beauty of brunch with Emma (pictured to the left) is one of the hardest things to watch in this film. Trust me...that's saying something. (f--king Grady!)
  • Gordo's story about the horses. Shit.
  • Was this the longest day ever?
  • Speaking of things lasting beyond an acceptable point, let me say that the ending is 900% ridiculous. Yes, I know it's supposed to be heroic and brave and all that shit, but c'mon, now. The German soldiers outnumbered them by 295 and couldn't pull together a winning strategy till they'd lost probably 80% of their own? Sorry. Not buying it.
  • And finally, the very end. How do you say Norman in German? 'Cause that guy....
Full disclosure, I rented Fury to end the daily version of this conversation: Have you seen Fury, Mr. Brown? Have you seen Fury? Mr. Brown? Mr. Brown? Fury? Did you see it?

And when I finally had those students again, do you think that they even cared that I had seen the film? Not really, as there was now something else I had to see. 

So, there's this dress, right?


  1. I enjoyed Fury. I liked it a lot better than some of the other war movies I've seen. (which admittedly are not my cup of tea.) The ending was kind of ridiculous though.

    Shia LaBeouf is awesome. I know he is batshit and weird but he's always been a solid actor in my opinion. I loved the cast here.

    Great review!

    1. The ending felt cheap in way, didn't it? And not only the last minute or two, but like, the last twenty. War is Hell, I get it. But we went through all of that for that? What is this, Jarhead?

      Fully with you on The Beouf. Even in a limited role, I really enjoyed seeing him without a giant robot, or lovelessly humping a young girl.


  2. I still haven't seen this one but I'm not sure I can stand watching these many wimpy looking guys. Eternally boyish Pitt is like the manly man comparing to those guys and that is saying something.

    1. Ha! I think there's a few manly men here, though maybe not quite the kind you seem to fancy.

      Oh, c'mon. Pitt is manly! He's a man's-man. A very beautiful man's man.

    2. Looooool I clearly had no idea who was balancing all that basic stuff in this :D

  3. LOL, I really didn't care for this, mainly because I felt it said nothing...like...it just went on forever going nowhere, at least for me...but Lerman and especially LaBeouf was great, so there's that.

    1. It's not that I hated it, but I'm with you overall. It's entirely forgettable, with hardly any reason to really care about what's happening on screen. And damn...it's f--king long, right?

      Lerman was very good (loved him upstairs with the girls), and clearly I dug what Shia did here, but I would vouch for the entire cast, actually.Though, even with them....the whole thing meanders the land of Average War Movie.

    2. I did also see this on a whim while the wife was out of town with the kids and it was an 11 oclock showing, so I sat in the EMPTY theater and pounded away beers until 1:30 in the morning PRAYING for the movie to end so I could pee.

      But, like, the dinner scene was really well done. The end was messy. Everything else was just there.

  4. I've been on the fence about seeing this one. I told The Hubby I wasn't sure I wanted to see Brad Pitt in a WWII movie unless he had his Inglorious Basterds with him. On the good side, Shia LaBeouf has a long way to go to cleanse himself after his connection with the Transformers franchise. So good for him. Great review!

    1. If it's something that the hubby want to see anyway, might as well go for it. If he's not particularly concerned one way or the other, my vote's to pass. You could spend two+ hours watching something much better, I'm sure of it. Like Transformers 4, maybe?

      Oh, Shia wasn't in that one, was he? (good for him)


    2. Transformers 2 was so. excruciatingly. painful. to sit through.

    3. It was just about the worst cinematic experience I've ever had...theatrically. Ugh.