Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Hurt Locker

Kathryn Bigelow, 2009 (9.0*)Bigelow’s film of the war in Iraq is an engrossing look at an elite bomb squad whose daily task is to access possible bombs and booby traps, and defuse or detonate them. To call this harrowing and nerve-wracking is an understatement. She manages to maintain the tension and keep the viewer riveted to the action with any real plot or story, other than showing the daily trials of the tiny squad of three men. Much of this credit is due to the "soldier's eye view" of cinematographer Barry Akroyd.

The unknown ensemble cast is dead on, most seem like real soldiers. The few cameo roles from veterans Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes, and David Morse actually make the unknown actors, led by Jeremy Renner as the lead bomb specialist, look even better. In a way, the film is a little dispassionate (I'm sure a natural response of real soldiers in this situation), especially when compared to the story of Kurdish war orphans who defuse and resell land mines in the Iraq-Iran film Turtles Can Fly (2004) . Yet it’s still a very good war movie leaning more toward suspense and nail-biting action, which should be both gripping and informative to western audiences, most of whom are as clueless as I was about the technical details of this new type of weapon.

Hurt Locker belongs with that small group of films that attempt to show the results of this new terrorism, such as Rendition and The Kingdom. Viewers (and terrorists) not familiar with Gillo Pontecorvo's now classic Battle of Algiers should see that 1965 b&w film for an effective means of using terrorism for gaining freedom from foreign powers, with timed bombs left behind in crowded locations, thereby saving the bombers themselves for more work. That film remains my favorite primer on urban terrorism, and Pontecorvo enlisted thousands of volunteer extras in the streets of Algiers.

Hurt Locker could win many awards this year, and has a good start already with 44 wins so far at various festivals and from film critics. Cinematography, editing, and sound are likely Oscar® winners. [The film shows a 2008 release date, yet it's up for 2009's awards, so I'm confused as to when it was really released - so I went with 2009 here to avoid the appearance of error]
Awards link at IMDB


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Artist, photographer, composer, author, blogger, metaphysician, herbalist

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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