Wednesday: “Apocalypse Now”

July 26

There is nothing about “Apocalypse Now” that is not problematic. Not the premise: the white colonel building a jungle death cult among the ignorant natives; not the other premise: the white assassin sent to make it right; not even the third premise: that all of war—that one war, anyway—is (or was) a carnival of madness with no clear objective save for kicks and maybe some career advancement for the brass. It’s all stupid and pointless and macho. And it’s also great. Because as unreal as the events depicted in the movie are, the feelings it evoked—that sense of sweaty dread, the adrenaline doom, the inability to know for sure which evil is worse—matched exactly the era in which it appeared. Forget all about the movie as groundbreaking cinema, as budget-busting authorship, and as the final cinematic break with the rah-rah war movies that preceded it (OK, not final; see: “Dunkirk”). “Apocalypse Now” (the title a sly dig on a then-nascent hippie slogo, “Nirvana Now”) is, to this day, an inspired love letter and spur to every would-be assassin stalking every megalomaniacal overweight would-be cult of personality through the ages. Like I said: deeply problematic. 8 p.m. The Senator, 5904 York Rd., (410) 323-4424, thesenatortheatre.com, $10. (Edward Ericson Jr.)

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