Empty Balcony: True Grit (1969)

True Grit, one of John Wayne’s most celebrated westerns, was released in 1969. The day it was released, it was already somewhat of an anachronism. The ’60s saw the western genre embrace more depth in its storytelling, something that was already common in many other genres. Before True Grit, there was the trilogy of films by Sergio Leone featuring Clint Eastwood as the man with no name. Just a week after True Grit was released, Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch hit theaters. The western has rarely been a genre that strived for realism, but the violence of The Wild Bunch was a direct challenge to a film like True Grit, where violence and death are done by rote, removing much emotional punch. Continue reading “Empty Balcony: True Grit (1969)”

The Empty Balcony: Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now dropped into my cinematic experience like a bomb. When I was a teenager, I had been vaguely aware that it was a film about the Vietnam War, but I thought nothing more about it other than that it had an interesting title. I had seen other Vietnam War films, notably Platoon and Full Metal Jacket, and felt like I was familiar with the material I would see in Apocalypse Now, so there was no great rush on my part to seek it out. Also, there wasn’t anyone my age (somewhere in the early years of high school, I’m not exactly sure when) who had seen it, so there weren’t any peer recommendations or condemnations to go with the film. Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: Apocalypse Now”