Sunday, September 30, 2012

674. REDS (1981)


Running Time: 195 minutes
Directed By: Warren Beatty
Written By: Warren Beatty, Trevor Griffiths, from the book Ten Days That Shook the World by John Reed
Main Cast: Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Edward Herrmann, Jerzy Kosinski, Jack Nicholson
Click here to view the trailer

COMMUNISM AND STUFF

It was October 17, 2009 when I sat down to write my review for "Oktyabr". It was my third Sergei Eisenstein film in the span of about a month and at that point I'd had my fill of Russian propaganda. Well, here we are again, just about three years later and I'm forced to sit through, yet another movie that deals with the "Ten Days That Shook the World", this one a little easier to understand, but not much better.


Warren Beatty is John Reed, a journalist and political activist, born in Oregon and rising to popularity in the early 20th century. Diane Keaton is Louise Bryant, a San Franciscan writer who is a big fan of Reed's writing and first encounters him at a lecture in Portland. Bryant introduces herself to Reed and the two spend the night talking about politics and his views. The two are fascinated with one another and Reed eventually invites Bryant to come and stay with him in New York, his base of operations. There, the two live together in Greenwich Village and Bryant is introduced to all of Reed's friends and acquaintances, including playwright Eugene O'Neill (Nicholson) and anarchist Emma Goldman. The couple go through several rough patches, arguments and clashes, but always seem to end up happy and loving each other. Later, the two get married and buy a home together, vowing to devote their lives to one another, their writing and their politics. One evening, during a spat, Reed admits to being unfaithful to Bryant and she leaves him, ending up in France as a war correspondent. Reed never stops thinking about her, with the two exchanging letters and eventually reuniting in France when Reed offers Bryant the chance to accompany him to Russia to witness the fall of the Czarist regime and the 1917 revolution. That just about covers the first half of the film and doesn't even begin to summarize the second half, as John Reed tries to bring communism to America in the form of the Communist Party of America and continues to fight for his ideals, both at home and in Russia.


I'm twenty-eight years old now, so when people pose the question, "Do you vote?" or "Who are you going to be voting for?", answering a simple "no" or "no one" just isn't enough anymore. I used to be able to get away with it, because they'd just assume I was too young to worry myself with that and move on. But, at nearly thirty years old, I need a more in depth and "responsible" answer. Well, the truth is, I just don't care. I won't be voting in November because outside of their name (Barack Obama and Mitt Romney) I haven't a clue about the two guys. Obama is the one who presides over our country now, he lives in the White House and he's married. I think the couple have two children and I'm pretty sure that since living in Washington, they've purchased a dog. I know that red states are republican and blue states are democratic and I know that every four years each of those parties have a convention that interrupt my regularly scheduled programs. That's all I know, for the most part. But people say, "Well you're a tax payer, you're an American citizen, you should take an interest in your government!" Why? I'll leave the "taking an interest in government" to the people that care to take an interest in their government and you leave me to the things that I care to take an interest in. I just have absolutely no desire to pay even the slightest bit of attention to politics or the government and that's how I'll always be. I have no opinion. I'm neither a democrat or a republican, nor do I care to learn more about either of their parties.


Anyway, my point is, I just didn't like this movie - it wasn't for me. John Reed was the exact opposite of me. You see, he cared about certain things, he went to political rallies, lectures and the sort and he voiced his opinion and vocally tired to bring about change. He was the exact opposite of me and therefore, I didn't care about his story. Add to that the fact that these characters might as well have been speaking Greek, because I didn't understand a lot of their lingo. Sure, there were SOME interesting facets to the film, most notably realizing that there was someone who TRIED to bring communism to America - something that I previously didn't know. And hey, there was also a fairly decent love story integrated into the three hour running time and in fact, it took up almost the entire first half of the film. Nicholson was marvelous as Eugene O'Neill, despite the fact that his camera time was limited and the camerawork was, at times, sublime. A particular shot of Eugene and Louise standing in the ocean, bare naked, embracing one another was a personal favorite shot of mine, among dozens of other memorable ones. I also liked the fact that Beatty interspersed pieces of interviews from first hand witnesses throughout the film, as it actually served as a nice break in between the action.

But ultimately, "Reds" was just TOO LONG!! By the end of the film, the damn thing really started to drag ass and my eyes began flashing even more furiously toward the clock, wondering how much more of this movie I had to endure before I could just write it and forget it.

RATING: 4.5/10  Nearly got it to the average marker, but not quite. Hope I didn't ramble on too much there.

MOVIES WATCHED: 540
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 461

September 30, 2012  10:52pm

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