The lead of Stanley Kubrick's classic film about the Vietnam War blends sound, image and text to recall an often-exasperating experience.
Modine first put this diary between hard covers (metal ones, in fact) in 2005 for a limited-edition book; this app version was financed through a successful Kickstarter campaign. In 1985, when Modine was tapped by Kubrick to star in Full Metal Jacket, he had already starred in a Vietnam-themed film, Birdy. Any concerns about being typecast were erased by a chance to work with the storied director. Modine discusses some of the director’s eccentricities—endless retakes, gnomic pronouncements—but this book is more an intimate accounting than behind-the-scenes gossip. His wife, Cari, was pregnant during filming in England, and Modine foolishly thought the film would wrap in time for them to have the baby in the United States. Not only did filming stretch well beyond nine months, but the experience brought out Kubrick at his worst: He only grudgingly allowed Modine to leave the set to witness the birth of his son. The app’s trove of photos (each favorite-able and Tweet-able) fill most of the screen space, and they capture the author’s somber yet personable perspective via snapshots of his wife and co-stars, with occasional news clippings and artsy landscapes. The diary entries themselves are plainspoken and reveal a fame-struck actor in his mid-20s struggling to improve his craft. He’s never more self-flagellating than when he offends Kubrick by violating his brainstorming rules, and his efforts to get back in the auteur’s good graces add another layer of drama to an already tense story. Users can hear Modine read the diary in its entirety, though except for passages about line readings, the audio version is skippable.
The making of the film was infamously messy, but Modine’s presentation of his story is clean and smart.