I’ve already discussed the movie “Bagdad Café” with you guys and as a reminder, it’s my all-time favorite movie. Another film I really enjoy is called “Jackknife.” It stars Robert DeNiro, Ed Harris and Kathy Baker.
DeNiro plays a character named Joseph 'Jackknife' Megessey (Megs). He and David 'High School' Flannigan, played by Harris, served in Viet Nam together. Their third buddy, Bobby 'Red Sox' Buckman, didn’t make it home. The premise of the film is many years later how they are dealing with their past experiences in the war.
According to critic Marshall Fine, the movie is based on the off-Broadway play “Strange Snow.”
“It is essentially a three-hander between Robert De Niro, Kathy Baker, and Ed Harris. Harris is a Vietnam vet suffering the recurring effects of posttraumatic stress disorder. De Niro is an old army buddy who looks him up and helps him come to terms with the ugly memories he has of their days together in Vietnam and of a pal who didn't make it out alive. Baker plays Harris's sister, a schoolteacher and wallflower who blossoms under the attention of the rough-hewn De Niro. Harris and De Niro clash in a cathartic confrontation, but not before De Niro and Baker play an incredibly erotic and understated love scene that serves as the film's emotional core.”
I was never a big Robert DeNiro fan, but I can appreciate his talent as an actor. After seeing him in this 1989 film I grew very fond of him. Ed Harris has always been high on my list of favorite actors. He really did a terrific job in this picture. The problems between Joseph and David are brought to a climax when Joseph is dating David’s sister Martha Flannigan, played by Kathy Baker.
The real problem exists because they lost their buddy Bobby in Viet Nam and David has never resolved his guilt about Bobby’s death. David takes out his grief in anger with Joseph as well as in a bottle.
I highly recommend this film for its outstanding acting, story line and human drama. I can’t help but think of all the veterans coming home today with similar conflicts.
Another film that I really enjoy is called “Defending Your Life,” 1991. It stars Albert Brooks, Meryl Streep and Rip Torn. It is essentially about what happens to these characters after they die. It’s an hilarious premise.
Brooks dies after purchasing his dream car and getting hit by a bus at his most euphoric moment. Where he goes next is “Judgment City.” As Brook’s defense attorney in Judgment City, Rip Torn states there is no hell, “…although I hear Los Angeles is getting pretty close.”
Basically, Brooks has to defend his life for being afraid all the time in life. It is a typical role for Brooks, who usually plays a neurotic loser and is wonderful at it. Streep also plays a typical role as a strong female character. Brooks and Streep fall in love in the after-life, but are separated when they go different ways due to their “judgments.” The climax comes in finding out whether they can still be together in spite of this separation.
Although these two films are very different, they both speak to me on different levels. “Jackknife is a drama with some conflicts of immense proportions, while “Defending Your Life” is a very warm hearted comedy. I hope you get a chance to see them both.