Directed By: Gregor Jordan
Just Because People Die, It's Not Necessarily a Comedy
happened to the black comedy? Brazil, Harold and Maude,
Heathers, Welcome to the Dollhouse, and so forth; these
movies all, in their own time, defined and promoted one
of the sexiest genre's of film ever. A genre where it's
perfectly acceptable, nay, even required, to laugh at the
misfortunes of others; to revel in their petty hatreds,
and sip of their marvelous inadequacies. The more real the
characters are the blacker the comedy is, because, as we
all soon realize, life itself is a black comedy. And that's
what's really funny.
These days, most anything will pass for black comedy, so
long as it bears the proper trappings. So long as the jokes
are centered on human misery, and the hero has a disturbing
line of work (think Grosse Point Blank
kind of funny,
but definitely not black, despite what the posters said.
Or worse still, think: The Whole Nine Yards). The movie
is almost always more comedic than it is black, and it is
an awful sit-com style of funny. And unlike a true black
comedy the black and the comic are disparate. Like cheap
salad dressing, the bitter, black vinegar separates and
sits below the greasy, oily, cheap comedy. At some points
the movie is dark, at other's its funny, but they never
get tossed in together. Buffalo Soldiers suffers from this
in spades. It has a very promising opening, funny and dark
in perfectly equal proportions. From there, however, it
falls apart and descends into two really awful movies, with
disjointed plots and pointless comedic antics.
Set on an Army base in Germany during the cold war, you
would think that there was ammunition-a-plenty for insightful
commentary, stinging jokes, and softly placed criticisms.
But the material and the opportunities are wasted for the
Natalie Portman, who was the perfect jailbait in Beautiful
girls and The Professional - even for us fans of Aquaman
- has grown up into an almost fully formed actress, and
I'm beginning to realize that I really don't like her at
all. She's a great talent and all, but she keeps choosing
such stupid roles, and then playing them with no heart.
Look at Star Wars - I know she's supposed to be a cold heartless
bitch, but can't she soften her eyes a little when she say
she's in love with Annekin? Here she is tepid at best as
Elwood's (Phoenix) love interest.
No wait. It's Anna Paquin
not Natalie Portman
they're so easy to mix up. Just take that last paragraph
and replace The Professional with The Piano, and Star Wars
And then there's Glen Fitzgerald. He played the terminally
ill closet fag in Series 7 and the terminally ill asshole
in two episodes of Six Feet Under. In The Ice Storm he got
to leave a key-party with Sigourney Weaver, in Flirting
With Disaster he got to dose an FBI agent with acid, and
now he's playing a junkie who gets to roll through a German
town in a tank. I love this guy, he's a great actor with
this sickly-hot aura about him (which is why he's always
playing people about to die), but he is so out of place
in this movie. Or rather his character is out of place,
he's fairly prevalent in the first 20 minutes of the film,
and then he's gone for the rest of it.
There's a lot of this throughout Buffalo Soldiers - pointless
characters and scenes that mean nothing, further nothing
and go nowhere. A lot of people die, and no one really gives
two shits about it. There's a pro for you
into humorous carnage and stuff. There's lots of drugs,
you like drugs, don't you? All of it smacks of senselessness
however; as though it was quickly realized that the movie
wasn't going to quite make it, so they threw in an errant
tank and piles of heroine as a last resort.
The only saving grace comes from a surprise corner. Ed
Harris of all people is the shining comic gold of the movie.
As the bumbling, idiotic base commander he delivers a performance
that he very obviously enjoyed immensely. And that's something
that is lacking in everyone else's performance.
And then there's the ending. One of the tell tale signs
of a movie that has no idea what its trying to do is an
ending which ties things up in a complete package. Not a
nice little package like on your birthday, but some serious
heavy bondage style packaging - this movie is TIED together!!!!
Everything WILL make sense!!!! WE WILL HAVE A HAPPY ENDING
If it were a little blacker then there would have been something
to cheer about.
Two A's For Effort
They tried. They Certainly tried. It's just too bad they
didn't know what they were trying for. The entire movie
feels like a half-baked cake - delicious from the frosting
side, but mushy and gross in the middle.
At times this is a funny movie, at other times it's a little
darker than normal. If it weren't for the ending, buffalo
soldiers would have scored much better; then it would have
just been a failed black comedy with some interesting messages
and some humorous moments. But tack on that ending and it's
a failed movie all around, trite and pointless with an outcome
that is only dark or twisted if you consider how utterly
impossible it all is.