One continent's summer movie is another's fall release. Homesick, alone in Copenhagen, I stumbled on Stanley Kubrick's 1987 Vietnam picture in November and was attracted to its potential as a hybrid of two adolescent favorites--A Clockwork Orange and Platoon. What could be more reminiscent of the States than a combination of psych-op and buddy movie? As I would come to appreciate later, this was another Kubrickian bait and switch--a cinematic inversion of the military's offer of education in exchange for service. Full Metal Jacket uses American military culture circa '68--along with the "war movie" itself--as a pretext to delve into the murky depths of discipline, violence, and individualism, all abiding interests of its director. Were he still with us today, he might dress up Pinewood Studios as Fallujah instead of Hue and, sadly, 37 years later, illustrate the absurdity of the U.S. acting as global policeman yet again.
Matt Bakkom is the curator of "Search and Rescue" and the co-director of the short documentary "What America Needs: An Interior Expedition."