Friday, January 23, 2015

Movie Review: Biloxi Blues 1988, Neil Simon

This movie came out in 1988 staring Matthew Broderick as Jerome. The story is narrated by Jerome and at points is melancholy and almost historically accurate. Neil Simon is the author. The first review I saw when this movie originally came out was in the New York Times in 1988 by Vincent Canby

I am including the link but with my luck with links they usually disapear after a short while - so Vincent's actual review is below.

It's funny because in an odd sort of way Matthew Broderick was one of the "cool" guys from back in the day (the 80's for me) and he not only did this movie but was in Ferris Bueller's Day Off -pretty much if you don't know that movie you must be dead. 

Really what it comes down to is that there are some movies that start you thinking about something else.... Matthew Broderick movies can do that with me. They either bring back a boatload of memories, or the usual should've, would've, could've,,,,or even remind me that I need more wine or another box of chocolate (exaggeration here). Most of the time it reminds me of what we can do when we have the desire or the real belief that we can do so. 

This Biloxi Blues is probably a dirt house relation to what actually happened at boot camp. My Dad was in Boot camp during WWII. He was in the army air force and although I am certain it didn't turn out like this movie has I am 85% certain that there were multiple similarities.

I think that we all need to think outside our boxes....and this movie/ story whatever you want to call it HAD the characters do so. Each one thought outside their comfort zone...and ultimately that is a big deal. Neil Simon did an interview with the Paris Review 1994 (I don't have room for another article so we will just have to hope this one stays up).

One of Neil's comments about Biloxi Blues is (to me) especially poignant, "No, but I listened to him (Frank Rich, reviewer NYT) saying, I’m interested enough to want to know more about this family. Then, Steven Spielberg, who had gone to see Brighton Beach, got word to me, suggesting the next play should be about my days in the army. I was already thinking about that and I started to write Biloxi Blues, which became a play about Eugene’s rites of passage. I discovered something very important in the writing of Biloxi Blues. Eugene, who keeps a diary, writes in it his belief that Epstein is homosexual. When the other boys in the barracks read the diary and assume it’s true, Eugene feels terrible guilt. He’s realized the responsibility of putting something down on paper, because people tend to believe everything they read."

Isn't that the truth.
People believe what they read.....people believe it to be fact... when I worked in a library there used to be a saying "If it is on the internet it must be true". Which in another way means do your research, get your head out of your ass and don't automatically assume you know everything about everything.....

Think about it, this would be especially true in cases where people tell Aspie parents what theya re doing wrong and how terrible they are when in fact these same people don't have a fucking clue.

Before I get off on another tangent- take some time, go watch a movie- tell Jerome, Ferris and Matthew, "Hi" and grab the bowl of popcorn and enjoy the show.

WHEN first seen in ''Biloxi Blues,'' the movie, Eugene Morris Jerome is not, technically speaking, actually seen. He's an indistinct figure in the window of a World War II troop train. With more purpose than hurry, the train chugs across a broad, verdant American landscape, shimmering in the golden light of memory, as well as in the kind of humid, midsummer heat in which even leaves sweat. On the soundtrack: ''How High the Moon.''
In one unbroken movement, the camera swoops down and across time and landscape into a close-up of the ever-observant Eugene. He's headed for Biloxi, Miss., and basic training in the company of other recruits who, to his Brighton Beach sensibility, seem to have been born and bred under rocks.
They are Wykowski, Selridge, Carney and Epstein, the usual American cross-section. They're an exhausted but still tirelessly obscene crew given to communication by insults - rudely frank comments about each other's origins, intelligence, odors and anatomies. Says the voice of Eugene (Matthew Broderick), who has a would-be writer's way of stepping outside events to consider his own reactions to them: ''It was hard to believe these were guys with mothers and fathers who worried about them. It was my fourth day in the Army, and I hated everybody so far.''
It now seems as if the entire Broadway run of Neil Simon's 1985-86 hit play was simply the out-of-town tryout for the movie, which opens today at the Baronet and other theaters. However it came to be, ''Biloxi Blues,'' carefully adapted and reshaped by Mr. Simon, is a very classy movie, directed and toned up by Mike Nichols so there's not an ounce of fat in it.
Here is one adaptation of a stage piece that has no identity crisis. ''Biloxi Blues'' is not a movie that can't quite cut itself loose from the past, and never for a minute does it aspire to be anything but a first-rate service comedy. With superb performances by Mr. Broderick, who created the role of Eugene on Broadway, and Christopher Walken, who plays Mr. Simon's nearly unhinged, very funny variation on the drill sergeant of movie myth, ''Biloxi Blues'' has a fully satisfying life of its own.
In one brief but key sequence, the camera watches Eugene and his buddies as they watch the Abbott and Costello classic ''Buck Privates.'' The beautifully timed, low-comedy scene that so delights them continues to be funny in itself. It also helps to place ''Biloxi Blues'' in a very dif-ferent movie-reality, in an Army that's racially segregated and in which ignorance and bigotry are the order, though, in hindsight, World War II remains the last ''good war.''
''Biloxi Blues'' is about the education of Eugene Morris Jerome, who has three goals in life: to become a writer, to lose his virginity and to fall in love. Even if, through some warp in time, we'd never before heard of Neil Simon, the existence of this first-person memoir would reveal how Eugene succeeded in his chosen craft. ''Biloxi Blues'' recalls how he made out in the sex and romance departments while also growing up.
It makes no difference that there's never any doubt that he will make out. That's a given. The pleasure comes in witnessing Mr. Simon and Mr. Nichols as they discover surprises in situations that one might have thought beyond comic salvation.
Beginning with young Richard, the lovesick poet in Eugene O'Neill's ''Ah, Wilderness!,'' would-be writer-characters in the American theater have been sneaking off to brothels virtually nonstop. However, not one of those earlier adventures equals the nuttiness of Eugene's with a Biloxi woman (Park Overall) who, on the side, deals in perfume, stockings, black lace panties and other items hard to find in a wartime economy. Says Eugene, ''Do you sell men's clothing?''
There is also an idealized funniness in Eugene's sweet, tentative romance with a pretty Catholic girl (Penelope Ann Miller), who sends his head (and the camera) spinning. When she tells him that her name is Daisy, the delighted Eugene says that Daisy is the name of his favorite female character in fiction. Responds this no-nonsense Daisy, ''Which one, Daisy Buchanan or Daisy Miller?''
Even more important are Eugene's relations with the other recruits, including the slobbish but pragmatic Wykowski (Matt Mulhern) and Selridge (Markus Flanagan), and especially Epstein, played by Corey Parker with seriously funny arrogance. Epstein is a young, bookish fellow with a delicate stomach and utter disdain for what people think.
Epstein serves as Eugene's conscience, but Eugene still can't bring himself to stand up for a fellow Jew: ''Epstein sort of sometimes asked for it, but since the guys didn't pick on me that much, I just figured I'd stay neutral, like Switzerland.''
Eugene's coming of age is sharpened in the film by having Eugene, rather than Epstein, become the key figure in the recruits' late-night showdown with the crazy Sergeant Toomey.
As Sergeant Toomey (''You're not fighting men yet, but I'd put any one of you up against a Nazi cocktail waitress''), Mr. Walken gets his best role in a very long time, possibly since ''Pennies From Heaven.'' Mr. Broderick is wonderfully devious as a young man who's so taken by life's spectacle that he sometimes forgets he's a part of it.
As if he believed that a wisecrack left unspoken were a treasure lost forever, Eugene won't keep quiet. This is an endearing characteristic in Eugene but a problem in some of Mr. Simon's other works. ''Biloxi Blues'' is different. Mr. Nichols keeps the comedy small, precise and spare. Further, the humor is never flattened by the complex logistics of movie making, nor inflated to justify them.
''Biloxi Blues'' is the second play in Mr. Simon's ''Eugene trilogy,'' which begins with ''Brighton Beach Memoirs'' and ends with ''Broadway Bound.'' It may not be as good a play as ''Broadway Bound'' but, with ''The Heartbreak Kid,'' adapted from a Bruce Jay Friedman story, and ''The Sunshine Boys,'' it stands as one of the three best films Mr. Simon has yet written.
''Biloxi Blues,'' which has been rated PG-13 (''Special Parental Guidance for Those Younger Than 13''), is full of uproariously vulgar language. Barracks Bildungsroman BILOXI BLUES, directed by Mike Nichols; screenplay by Neil Simon, based on his play; director of photography, Bill Butler; edited by Sam O'Steen; music by Georges Delerue; production designer, Paul Sylbert; produced by Ray Stark; released by Universal Pictures. At Movieland, Broadway at 47th Street; Baronet, Third Avenue and 59th Street; U. A. East, First Avenue at 85th Street; Bay Cinema, Second Avenue at 32d Street; 23d Street West Triplex, at Eighth Avenue; Metro Twin, Broadway and 99th Street. Running time: 104 minutes. This film is rated PG-13. Eugene ... Matthew Broderick Sergeant Toomey ... Christopher Walken Wykowski ... Matt Mulhern Epstein ... Corey Parker Selridge ... Markus Flanagan Carney ... Casey Siemaszko Hennesey ... Michael Dolan Daisy ... Penelope Ann Miller

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