Movie title: The War in the Mind

the war in the mind

 

The man had been, for the whole of his life, an idealist. A dream-fighter, but also a rather conforming, obedient one. Raised in a conservative family, he had been taught that achieving Ivy League was an enormity, and therefore he had to strike hard for it.

Then came the Vietnam War. His friends had been draft dodgers and followed the life paths of hippies, but conforming to his parents’ wishes – the father of whom had been a World War II veteran before – he realized enlisting himself was a Hobson’s choice. And he thought being sent to Vietnam could raise glory for himself, save ‘those little people living in wild jungles’, and for the nation.

Reality proved him disastrously wrong. Both American and Vietnamese troops committed similar amounts of savagery against each other, maiming and killing not only themselves, but also innocent civilians. He witnessed some of his fellow soldiers persecute war prisoners and exploit the civilians; while some of them kindheartedly assisted the Vietnamese throughout the ordeal, he also saw Communist troops murdering them in vengeance. The retaliation never ceased, while his commanders prevailed giving him orders to ‘kill, kill, and kill’. He questioned his motives of life, the meaning, its existence, and everything about it. And he will soon go insane.

 

(is that so Platoon-ishly mainstream like any other Vietnam War films? Prove me right.)

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Movie title: La Voglia

la voglia

 

Shortly after World War II, a medical doctor, having lost his wife, found himself falling in love with an orphan. That ‘friendship’, slowly, became a romantic – and, outspokenly, sexual – relationship. But, mysteriously, a few years afterwards, the girl disappeared. The doctor was desperate to look for her existence, and he poured out his emotion in his secret diary, oftentimes with his own imaginary scenarios.

What do you think then?

 

NB: ‘voglia’ is actually Italian word for ‘craving’, or ‘desire’.

Movie title: Underworld

underworld

 

NB: It were not going to be another ‘recycled’ vampire-vs-werewolf saga we mostly have been fed up watching year after year.

But this plot contains some metaphorical references to ‘vampire’ and ‘werewolf’. Should we set it, first, in the United States? Not necessarily, and I don’t really recommend it. We have seen pretty many movies talking about America’s underworld, and, okay, add ‘neo-Nazi gangs’ as additional spices won’t do so much. I think we should pay a particular attention on Third World countries, and given that political and social stability in those places are relatively fragile, this plot is much more suited there.

As poverty is highly prevalent, particularly in major cities as a consequence of decrepitude in government services and reliability, street gangs are oftentimes mushrooming, and in some instances, engaged in intense urban warfare. Killings, beatings, revenge, all of these perpetuate from one thug group to another, day by day. A tough guy, the main character, has grown so adjusted with it, that he has proudly termed himself as a ‘recidivist’. He has slashed his rivals’ throats, gouged one of their eyes, and cut off one of their arms, and he’s got stitches much across his body. As certain thug groups are backed by ruling parties, especially an autocratic regime, he’s subject to torture by security forces affiliated with the government. Nonetheless, no human beings are completely angelic or being permanently evil, though; in his little, suburban village, the tough guy is hailed ‘a stoic hero’, despite his overwhelming tattoos and scars on his body. He is also, unexpectedly, religious; religious in the sense that he originates from a community embracing a minority form of belief, and that community has always been ostracized by the majority. His fate is put into a big test, somehow, when the government announces to raze the entire village, and replace it with a wholly new urban development built by one of their cronies’ business empires. Some of the villagers had been bribed, some of those opposed are tortured, and rival gangs, backed by security forces, slowly intimidate every aspect of life in that village. What will the tough guy do? Either he fights the government – with a consequent risk that the entire village’s lives are put at stake, or simply acquiesce to their demands after offers of bribery – at a cost of having betrayed his fellow ‘people’?

Movie title: The Tallest City on Earth

the tallest city on earth

 

The theme may sound obsolescent – that post-World War fighting spirit that resonated with millions of young Americans in 1950s and 1960s, but personally I think it’s worth contemplating again, considering that it is becoming increasingly difficult for more people, not only in this country but also worldwide, in achieving their dreams and visions.

So, thanks to the random algorithmic system, this new plot has been unraveled. It will be something like a trilogy, each of which tells us a different perspective of life in 1940s New York City – the world’s Caput Mundi, epicenter of the planet where people from elsewhere strive hard to grab the American dream. There is a motivational speaker, seeing opportunities in giving fiery speeches to war-exhausted veterans about ‘the need to go on with life and strike the hardest out of it’. Then there’s a teenager, hailing from a poor immigrant family (my mental projection imagines him someone from Eastern Europe, and almost definitely a Jew), but has an IQ of above 150. Last but not least, a university student, once a trauma-beleaguered World War II soldier in Pacific theater, who is greatly gifted in mathematics. Their stories are hardly related, but they may intertwine: each of them, in Horatio Alger-esque literati, is struggling to overcome their odds, and, in ups and downs of life, by making use of Camus’ flow of thought, questioning the very existence of their lives. How their careers and life paths diverged as time went by, up to the time of 1970s, when signs of inequality, and the gradual backwardness of the city, became increasingly obvious.

 

Or I should use a time machine to return back to four decades earlier, I guess?

Movie title: Peccatrix

peccatrix

 

It was the worst New York City of the times back in 1970s. Homicides, gang wars, drug smuggling, and abject poverty were visible signs almost everywhere throughout the metropolis. The whole nation had received its double blow from their humiliating defeat in Vietnam and the oil embargo imposed by Arab countries. Poverty stroke millions of people heavily in the United States, and criminal scenes were overwhelmingly commonplace.

And something shocking took place in Bronx. An African-American teenager was apprehended after having robbed and killed an old Jewish store-owner couple. Nonetheless, there was a loophole in his case: his right arm was physically deformed, and it was highly impossible that he could commit the case single-handedly. Critics suspected that the police were physically coercing him to confess a misdeed he had never done before. Divisions within the police became widespread, as there were allegations that some of the personnel were actually manipulating the case by their own.

What’s actually taking place behind the scenes? Was the teenager the sole suspect in the robberies? Or the police were hiding a more mysterious motive?

 

NB: it’s your turn to complete the missing plot. Oh, anyway, as for the movie title, ‘peccatrix’ is Latin word for ‘sinner’.

Movie title: We Need To Talk About Justin

we need to talk about justin

 

This boy (not that bad-ass, almost-fully-tattooed one we’re talking about) was what Hollywood could term as ‘all the children’s living dream’. He starred in numerous children-themed films, earned millions of dollars in every single paycheck, and his presence, everywhere nearly round the globe, was circumnavigated by swarms of reporters anxious to know his latest events every single time. Nonetheless, as time goes by, the boy is increasingly faced with childhood problems, is struggling to cope with the transition towards adulthood, and his fate is exacerbated when his parents divorced, and were engaged in violent confrontations in regard to the management of their son’s assets. His career gradually domino-ed into a mess, entered a vicious underworld, satisfied his lust with numerous women, controversially earning him a new, notorious reputation.

His ex-manager, Iceboat Brown*, shares his secrets about the boy, so-called Justin, to a television journalist. Here, he leaks all his darkest life secrets public outside has barely known before. Will the boy ever rise from his point of nadir and transform himself into a better person?

 

 

*you know who this person I’m referring about

Movie title: The Sinner

the sinner

 

 

Again, another World War II-related plot that I could possibly correlate with the picture above. After the end of the history’s most devastating conflict, as many as 12 million American soldiers were demobilized, more than one-quarter million KIA (killed in action), and millions more physically wounded and psychologically affected. And this man, that abusive husband, having witnessed and got entangled with wartime brutalities in the Pacific theater, is struggling with numerous personal problems: alcoholism, poverty, crisis in faith, and relationship gap with his family and the surroundings. He eventually resettles in his parents’ rural area, working in farms, but to little avail. The traumatizing past, exacerbated with his marriage on the brink of dissolution, places his life, his existence, and his everything, at stake.

Recommended list of directors: either Paul Thomas Anderson or Darren Aronofsky