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Directed by Mike Nichols (The Graduate, Closer), Catch-22 is based on the Joseph Heller antiwar novel of the same title, which I have not yet had the pleasure of reading and therefore how faithful the film is to the original source material I can?t really say. But, what I can say is that I enjoyed this film immensely, which is surprising because usually satires and me don?t tend to get along.
The film stars Alan Arkin as Captain Yossarian, a soldier of the American Air Force stationed in the Mediterranean during the Second World War, who is afraid to fly anymore and is determined to avoid military combat on the grounds that he is insane. However, there is a catch as the base doctor explains to him, ?anyone who wants to get out of combat isn't really crazy and therefore can't be grounded?. Irritated, he continues his duties only to witness the deaths of several of his compatriots. While the film does centre on Arkin?s Yossarian, the film does feature a unique blend of characters from an impressive cast that includes: Martin Sheen, Orson Welles, and Jon Voight.
The film does not follow any chronological narrative, as it opens with Yossarian being stabbed in the back and then this scene is followed by a series of dream sequences and flashbacks, which may have a tendency to confuse or frustrate the viewing. The film is also divided into two different parts, as the first two thirds of the film are utterly hilarious, while the final third is much darker and nowhere near as entertaining. However, by the time the film takes its more serious approach in its latter stages, you?ll need the break as some of the previous scenes will not doubt have you rolling around on the ground in laughter. While, Arkin is perfectly cast, as are several other roles, my favourite character has to be Jon Voight?s Lt. Milo Minderbinder, a war capitalist out to generate a profit even at the risk of his fellow soldiers. For instance, he trades the unit?s supply of parachutes and morphine for luxury goods, such as needless statues. He also attempts to serve his fellow soldiers chocolate covered cotton after an excursion into the Egyptian resource, leaves him with tonnes of the product. Overall, Catch-22 is a somewhat flawed antiwar statement, but it?s filled so many laughs that its mild imperfections are easily overlooked.
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