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Monday, April 14, 2014

"Out of the Furnace"

My son and I saw Out of the Furnace this past weekend. It was slow-moving, heavy-handed, and predictable, your basic revenge film. Christian Bale and Woody Harrelson did their usual good jobs, but there wasn't much they could do with the script.

The movie also featured Casey Affleck as a veteran of Iraq around whose self-destructiveness much of the plot revolved:

My son, an Afghanistan vet, was utterly disgusted by the portrayal. He said, "The Hollywood types who made this movie have obviously never hung out with real vets. First of all, no Army guy would ever cover himself in Army tattoos like that. The guys I knew might get one Army tattoo at most; but the whole point of tattoos is to show your individuality and that you're badass, not that you're part of a large organization.

"Secondly, no self-respecting vet would wear the lower half of his ACU's [Army combat uniform] to engage in a bare knuckle prize fight.

"And finally, I guess they had to evoke every cliche in the war book, like how he saw a dying child, and how terrible it was for him to see body parts. And then he has to ham it up and scream histrionically at his brother so we can feel his anguish.

"What an annoying asswipe. I hope he [the character in the movie] dies."


Anonymous said...

What bugged me the most was the turning point of the movie -- when Bale DUI-manslaughters someone backing out of their driveway. The other driver was 95% at fault, not Bale. The driveway was obscured by vegetation, it was dark, and on that type of road, the residents should be pulling in head-first, driving up to the house, turning the car around, and driving out head-first -- not backing out onto a 55mph undivided two-lane highway.
I believe there was a later scene showing them pulling in/out correctly of that same driveway.

Anonymous said...

agreed on the army front, but Marines genuinely do get covered in USMC tattoos. see also: motarded.
Could not agree more on the "wearing just the bottom of your ACUs is retarded" front.

Anonymous said...

hey john,
i've read your posts on the practical school and the general life advice- all the women you never hit on, etc....

would you care some share some more life advice, from you and your friends, on topics like personal finances, marriage, strenght, regrets, creative work/passions, etc...

you sound like a trippy guy who has met a lot of varied types, so it should be pretty good.

Anonymous said...

and given your interest in the subject, would you care to read/review "the wisdom of psychopath" and james fallons book on life as a biological psychopath?
fallon is a well known neuroscientis i believe; with a family history on one side of murderers, never do'wells et al....

John Craig said...

Okay, in order:

First Anon:
I was bothered by that too, it struck me as an injustice. But what with Christian Bale being the hero of the movie, I think we were supposed to be a little bothered by the injustice. And that is in fact the way the law would treat a accident like that. If you're drunk and get into an accident, you're at fault no matter who caused the accident. I knew a guy (who was killed in 8/11, actually) who had been driving drunk one night when a lady in an oncoming car swerved into his lane and was killed in the collision. The accident was completely her fault, but because his blood alcohol level was above the legal limit, he was sentenced to some time in jail. (I didn't hear that story from him, but from someone else.) He was a great guy, too.

Second Anon:
Ha! Just looked up "motored," and it rings true. And yes, you do seem to see a lot more Marine tattoos, "Semper Fi" and "USMC" and the like.

Third (and fourth) Anon:
Trippy??! I never thought of myself that way; in fact I try to make this blog as commonsensical as possible (in a humorous way). But it sounds like you're saying it in a complimentary way, so thank you.

That's a pretty tall order you've given me. I try to stick to subjects where I can say something I haven't heard elsewhere, and I'm not sure I have much that's original to contribute on those topics. I tell you what, I'll file your comment away in my list of potential topics,and maybe get to them eventually. In the meantime, here's my (very) brief advice on all those topics:

Personal finance: Save your money. Most stuff isn't worth the money you spend on it, and eventually, the best thing you can buy is your freedom.

Marriage: don't, unless you're planning to have children with this person. when you're young, it's easy to let passion cloud judgment, but remember, the looks and passion fade, and it's the very rare personality that gets better over time.

Strength: (I assume you're talking of the muscular variety.) The key is to do high stress, low reps exercises, and give yourself enough recovery time in between workouts. My rule of thumb is, wait until the soreness from the previous workout has completely disappeared, then go at it again. Otherwise you haven't given your muscles enough chance to rebuild. And even more important than that is, don't get injured; work your way up to heavier weights slowly. Also distinguish between looking good an disable strength. Heavier weights will generally give you bigger muscles and make you look better (a perfectly fine end in itself), but body weight exercises will generally give you more usable strength.

Regrets: (Refer to all of blog.)

Creative work/passions: don't listen to anyone else -- even me -- because they/I can't tell you what your passions are. Only you know what they are. But if you want to become poet or whatever, make sure you've taken care of business (money) first.

I've never read The Wisdom of Psychopaths.

Fallon strikes me as an honest guy who is telling the truth about his background and personality. he is what used to be referred to as an organic sociopath: someone who needs more to get his motor running, who is just sort of naturally "hard" in a way that most aren't.

There….as you can see, much of what I said wasn't particularly original. But I hope it was commonsensical (and drily humorous). And maybe even trip-py. (Speaking of which, I've always wanted to try LSD, but have never had the courage to do so; one more example, I guess, of regretting not having followed a passion.)

John Craig said...

PS --
First Anon --that was supposed to read 9/11, not 8/11.

Second Anon -- I wrote "Motard," but thanks to the wonder of Autofill it came out "motored."

arthur thurman said...

In light of how the Military can arbitrarily lay people off these days after 10+ years, I'm happy I didn't get a huge Anchor or sea-going themed tattoo. Nothing worse than walking around "branded" by the company that dropped you. You don't see GM or Ford tattoos on people.

John Craig said...

Arthur --
Ha! That's a good point: people never get Ford or IBM tattoos. I guess it's a matter of pride. And of wanting to keep your options open. If you're an engineer for Ford and you get a better offer from GM, having a Ford tat stamped on your arm might not go over well at the GM picnics.

arthur thurman said...

Full Disclosure: I do have a POW/MIA, "My Brothers Keeper" and a Fallen Soldier tribute wrapped all around one arm. Those tattoos to me signify the true allegiance we hold for our fellow Brothers in arms. The other arm is sleeved in death, skulls and destruction. So, at least I'm balanced. lol

BTW, Nothing funnier than seeing in San Diego a boot Marine full "Moto" before even leaving the USA or having a full year of service.

John Craig said...

Arthur --
Your tattoo is different, less pride of military branch and more solidarity with and remembrance of the fallen/missing.

My son has similar comments about Army guys in non-combat roles who see themselves as killers. I was never in the military, so I was unfamiliar with all this before he started enlightening me.

arthur thurman said...

Simple test: The loudest one in the bar or VFW spouting about his military service and adventures
to anyone who will listen either A. Didn't serve B. Served "REMF" and wants to make his time in seem more distinguished. C. Or hell, the guys got too big an ego.

John Craig said...

Arthur --
That rings true. My son says that 90% of war stories are either untrue or at the very least embellished.

Anonymous said...

on the subject of socipaths, look up the tv show hannibal with mads mikkelsen. it's quite good, simply because he's a european understated actor.

in season 2 episode 4, you have a very bizzare older lady who helps her patients die. she saves them....

she gets the creepy sociopath vibe quite right, but that's just my view of it.

John Craig said...

Anon --
Thanks; I'll check it out sometime.

There are actually several recorded cases of serial killing nurses whose modus operandi was to make their patients deathly ill so they they could then swoop in and "save" them, and thus look heroic. But what would end up happening half the time was that the patients would actually die before they could be saved.

Sort of similar to the way that certain firemen have been known to set fires that they could then appear heroic putting them out. Sociopaths all.

One famous -- and particularly creepy -- sociopath was Jack Kevorkian; I've written about him in this blog.

Anonymous said...

Strange - it's my experience most Marines are tattooed, closeted homosexuals...