Two Cents is an original column akin to a book club for films. The Cinapse team will program films and contribute our best, most insightful, or most creative thoughts on each film using a maximum of 140 words each. Guest writers and fan comments are encouraged, as are suggestions for future entries to the column. Join us as we share our two cents on films we love, films we are curious about, and films we believe merit some discussion.

The Pick

Smell that? You smell that? Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of Cinapse in the morning! We’re commemorating this month’s 35th Anniversary of Apocalypse Now, which first hit theaters on August 15, 1979. I’m happily surprised that this was a first viewing for several of our contributors — which perhaps isn’t as shocking when considering that most of us weren’t yet born when it debuted. I’m glad to play catch-up though, because simply put, Apocalypse Now is essential viewing. But you don’t have to take my word for it!

Did you get a chance to watch along with us this week? Comment below or post on our Facebook or hit us up on Twitter!

Next Week’s Pick:

Brendan Foley invites us to climb aboard John Frankenheimer’s WWII actioner The Train, in which the French Resistance sets out to stop a train full of stolen art headed to Nazi Germany. This is a film which not only crashes real trains and blows up an actual train station for our amusement, but asks us to evaluate the very meaning and value of art. The Train is currently free to stream on Hulu (ad-supported) and Hulu Plus. You don’t want to miss this one!

Would you like to be a featured guest in next week’s Two Cents column? Simply watch and send your 140 word review to twocents(at)!

The Team


War is hell, and everything I’ve ever heard, read, and seen about Vietnam makes it seem like the worst hell of all. Artistic license? Historical fiction? Perhaps, but movies have certainly given me a very real sense that this was a time and place where not only morals but basic human decency were frequently and flagrantly compromised. Apocalypse Now throws us into a world where insanity and chaos reign, and manages to do so in a way which incorporates astounding artistry while still telling a thrilling story and having an actual plot. The Thin Red Line, take note. (@VforVashaw)


The thing that struck me the most during this viewing of Apocalypse Now is just how many times throughout the movie both Willard and the other members of the crew are given the chance to turn back or abandon the mission altogether. Not only are they explicitly presented with this option on multiple occasions, but the entire tone and temperature of each encounter they have on their journey to Kurtz suggests a world left derelict by any sense of order, or military orders. There is nothing physical or rational compelling these men to keep going up that damn river. And yet, they do keep going, for reasons that grow more and more intangible as the mania and body count increase. It complements the atmosphere of waking nightmare that Apocalypse Now brews, that intractable knowledge of terrible destiny drawing ever closer. (@TheTrueBrendanF)


The greatest trick Coppola ever pulled was turning Joseph Conrad’s impenetrably dull Heart of Darkness into one of the most hypnotic, immersive and beautiful films ever made — an almost perfect cinematic distillation of insanity — uncovering meaning in the meaningless whilst successfully corralling the likes of unstable creative mentalists Milius, Sheen, Brando and Hopper.

You cannot merely watch Apocalypse Now. It forces you to experience it — a monumental achievement and the epitome of triumph over adversity. Things I learnt from this classic: War is hell but also gorgeous-looking (thanks Vittorio Storaro); Charlie cannot surf; napalm smells quite nice first thing in the morning; “Ride of the Valkyries” and songs by The Doors comprise a great soundtrack to massacre/get high to; not everything need make sense; there is beauty in horror.

Redux or not to Redux? Who cares! Happy 35th AN! (@jconthagrid)


More than anything else, Apocalypse Now argues for the truth. The way wars are sold to civilians are absurd, and do more harm than good. Can we, as a culture, embrace the shadow side of our desires for utopia, and take a hard look at our inherent aggression and need for control? In 1979, Apocalypse Now asked us to do just that, and did so in such a compelling manor that it has resonated with audiences ever since.

The most touching scene, for me, is when Mr. Clean dies while the tape of his mother’s voice plays on. The randomness of death is juxtaposed by the reality of love, that every person is someone’s child.

Superbly acted and subversively humorous (“Charlie don’t surf”), Apocalypse Now is a masterpiece of honesty and artistry. (@Rheabette)

Our Guests

Brendan Agnew:

“Every man has got a breaking point.” These words aren’t merely what send a harried Captain Willard on a mission that takes him to the darkest corners of an already shadowy conflict, they appear to be the ethos by which Francis Ford Coppola made the film. Apocalypse Now drags the viewer through the perdition of the bush even as the narrative hammers an already-damaged Willard. One of the most notable tools it uses to achieve this end is Coppola’s sense of contrast — the film’s pace is almost dream-like, yet still feels relentless, and Martin Sheen’s haggard performance is a perfect complement to his youthful face. The juxtaposition of elements often seems wrong in a way that must have overwhelmed the earliest viewers, and has certainly left audiences reeling for decades. But if war is hell, what could be more fitting? (@BLCAgnew)

Justin Harlan:

Would you believe that this is the first time I’ve ever seen Apocalypse Now? I’m sure Liam would, since he thinks I have poor tastes. I suspect the biggest reason is that I loathe Joseph Conrad, mind you Heart of Darkness wasn’t half as awful as Lord Jim (a book I still curse my AP English teacher, Mrs. Zanella, for making me read). I also have little interest in war movies, though cynical and dark war movies can sometimes win my almost-pacifist ass over. While critics debate over whether this film is pro-war or anti-war, it certainly presents the darkness of war, as well as the darkness of man.

“In this war, things get confused out there — power, ideals, the old morality, and practical military necessity… because there’s a conflict in every human heart between the rational and the irrational, between good and evil. And good does not always triumph.”

Deep. (@thepaintedman)

Trey Lawson:

Apocalypse Now is, perhaps by design, difficult to summarize. It’s barely-controlled chaos, like the war it depicts. Yet it isn’t violence that generates the film’s visceral gut-punch, but rather the madness and hypocrisy to which we are subjected. From the film’s opening the war has already started to affect (infect?) Martin Sheen’s Willard. As his path takes him from Kilgore (Robert Duvall) to Kurtz (Marlon Brando), Willard is driven deeper into personal darkness. Apocalypse Now is an uncomfortable, often difficult film to watch — but also one of the best war films ever and absolutely essential. My own experience of the film could be summarized by a quote from Conrad’s Heart of Darkness: “He cried in a whisper at some image, at some vision, — he cried out twice, a cry that was no more than a breath — ‘The horror! The horror!’” (@T_Lawson)

Did you all get a chance to watch along with us? Share your thoughts with us here in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook!

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