Sometimes it’s hard: Under the Volcano (1984)

I had a girlfriend once–hm, maybe I should stop there.These days, that alone seems like an accomplishment. Anyway, I clearly recall this woman becoming almost physically ill as she watched Nic Cage commit suicide-by-drink in Leaving Las Vegas (1995). She simply couldn’t watch someone purposefully abuse themselves so thoroughly.

But then, she wasn’t in love with Cage’s character (or me, as it happened) and so perhaps didn’t quite understand the capacity a spouse or partner can develop for witnessing the self-mandated destruction of an intimate.

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BP Double Feature: House of Bamboo (1955)/Who’ll Stop the Rain (1978)

Post-war is hell in both Tokyo (above) and New Mexico.

War–and service–in these two very different films are things to be exploited.

In Samuel Fuller’s  House of Bamboo, GIs who defeated Japan in the Big One want to do it again, from the inside out. Acting from a sense of superiority and entitlement, they seek to dominate the country in a criminal sense in the way just a decade earlier they did so militarily.

In Karl Reisz’s Who’ll Stop the Rain, the Vietnam vets at the center of the story want nothing to do with the country they left behind, but they’ll use its riches–in this case, heroin–to profit in the same manner as Fuller’s ex-Army men.

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