Friday, June 26, 2009

The Hurt Locker - Dir. Katheryn Bigelow

It's been more than six years since I've been invited to experience any part of a film festival, but a week ago I had the pleasure of attending a few events in Nantucket as part of their 8th annual bash. I was not extremely active--I saw one film, and went to two events which included lots of free booze and hors d'oeuvres. I saw several celebrities and famous personalities act contrary to my prior conceptions. But it would be tedious to get into that discussion--I will only note that Brian Williams should quit his news anchor gig and become a stand-up comedian and a more than part-time indie rock blogger.

I do want to mention The Hurt Locker, the only movie I saw, almost exactly one week ago today from this post. It is directed by Katheryn Bigelow. I have never seen a movie by her before, though a few are mildly famous (Point Break, K-19: The Widowmaker), and now I will finally get around to seeing Strange Days. I did have the opportunity to tell her and I regret not doing so, but if I could go back a week in time, I would say to her: Strange Days had the coolest trailer I have ever seen in my life--the teaser trailer, that is, the one I saw in 1995. I haven't forgotten it, and I've watched it now, and I will post my first ever link to youtube on this blog in case you are interested, but I will just say, it made me want to be the person who edits trailers:

Too bad I'm not so cool that I can post the actual picture of that video in the text.

Anyways, The Hurt Locker is more of an indie film than some of Bigelow's previous ventures, and I would give it three, or three and a half stars (three and a quarter) if I had to rate it. It's very long, and I fell asleep during it for about three or four minutes, but that's no reflection upon its overall quality.

I'll be honest--I haven't seen every movie about the current (over yet?) stint in Iraq--in fact, I haven't seen more than a couple of them--no Redacted, no Stop-Loss, no The Kingdom, no In the Valley of Elah (which was co-written by the screenwriter of this film), no The Lucky Ones--but I have seen Three Kings and I would say that this film does not quite measure up to that one--but that's a different war--bad joke, but I am trying to give a sense of relative greatness.

I would still venture the guess that The Hurt Locker trades less in overtly leftist prosyletization than its predecessors and is probably the best film about the nouveau war in Iraq. It is about the people that defuse bombs. And that is pretty much all it is about. When I read that description, I wasn't all that excited about it--I was more interested in seeing Cold Souls, or Serious Moonlight, or even Beeswax--but I am glad I saw this instead. The scenes of "bomb-teching," or whatever, are expertly directed, chilling in their realism, and are definitely one of the more original approaches to the "action sequence" that I have ever seen (in a way that Speed or Die Hard with a Vengeance turn these moments into blockbuster popcorn fare, The Hurt Locker is content to stay totally ordinary and mundane--the less stuff that blows up, the better--and the audience becomes more involved as a result).

The Transformers sequel just opened and is making more money than practically everything before it, but it has gotten some brutal reviews. The Hurt Locker is opening today and will probably be forgotten, languishing on DVD or random cable stations. Whatever the medium, I recommend you find a couple extra hours and experience this film. I don't think you will regret it. At the very least, this film should be Jeremy Renner's breakout performance. At best, you will leave shaken and with a new-found respect for those that give their lives for this country. It might even work well as a military recruitment video. If you are young and thinking about going out for service, this would be a good film to see, which is more than I could say for the others.

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