Sunday, February 21, 2010

Weird war movies night OR all that I learned from The Hurt Locker was...

Saw The Hurt Locker & The Great Raid tonight. Locker was like a weird art movie, except set in "Iraq" (maybe it was because I knew that it was shot somewhere in the US - I believe - that the environment in the movie did not "feel" like Iraq - not that I've been there, but just from watching other movies & TV shows & news), and pretty much all I learned from watching the movie is that bomb disposal is difficult & deadly work (which I knew already). There was really no plot to the movie - it was like a mumblecore war movie - except with even less of a plot than most mumblecore movies. Basically you see soldiers at war & off duty, and you get to see - in some detail - the challenges encountered by battlefield bomb disposal units - but there wasn't any story - just a few characters & a situation. But a lot of people are really into the movie, and it's nominated for an Oscar or two I believe, so, I guess Locker was just not for me.

The Great Raid was more of a regular war movie; there's a plot - a relatively small group of US Army Rangers & Filipino guerrillas have to rescue 500 US prisoners from the Japanese, in the Philippines, during WW II. Even though the movie was shot & acted well, there was something missing in most scenes - things did not flow well - where there should have been drama or suspense there was often not much of anything except people hanging out & talking (so maybe the script was the problem, also maybe the editing, & of course the direction). But the action scenes were well done. The raid of the POW camp was dramatic & interesting to watch. One of the best parts of the movie was seeing actual footage from the real Great Raid at the closing title sequence - & seeing some of the real people depicted in the movie (see the footage here). All in all, Raid was pretty good - a solid 6.5 I guess - as far as war movies go.

HBO usually does war pretty well - when it comes to using it to tell interesting stories. So, I am looking forward to The Pacific. Tonight's little war movie fest was OK, Pacific might be better.

- S

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5 comments:

Chris Hansen said...

I haven't seen the film yet, so I can't comment on your criticisms, but it WAS shot in the middle east, in Jordan, within several miles of the Iraqi border...

The Sujewa said...

OK then :) I guess maybe it was the production design then (i think that one HBO series about the invasion of iraq - generation kill - may have defined for me what movie iraq is supposed to look like. For all i know the iraq depicted in Locker looks more like the real thing.

chuck Tryon said...

If you take a look at Gunner Palace or some other soldiers' eye, docs, I think it gets the look pretty well. It would make sense that it was filmed in Jordan.

I think you're underestimating the movie's thesis that "war is a drug," a concept taken from the opening epigraph from Chris Hedges. The character played by Jeremy Renner is, quite literally, addicted to the thrill of war (and especially the risks associated with defusing IEDs).

The narrative structure, from my POV, revolves completely around that.

The Sujewa said...

Hey Chuck,

Nice to see you in these here parts.

Yeah, Locker's got an interesting main character, even though some of the things I saw him & his unit do did not seem realistic (the stand off with the cab driver where non of the other soldiers fired a shot when the cab crossed their line, the sniper fight - where the bomb disposal unit suddenly becomes an excellent sniper unit) - but, I know, it's entertainment - it's an action movie - but since it's set in a current war/one that is still in progress, & given all the awards hype surrounding the film I was expecting more from the movie. That's why I said it was like "a weird art movie" - no great plot - no changes happen to the main character & a story is not told (in a way Loker was like a Jarmusch movie - but not shot as well, & minus the humor) - anyway - a situation such as a war & a main character with a very interesting/difficult job would have been better used - I think - if there was more of an old fashioned plot & some character development (given that the Iraq invasion & occupation is pretty much an old fashioned war, I think it would have made sense). But anyway, interesting/unusual movie, & interesting to see a lot of critics very excited about it.

The Sujewa said...

Also, if Locker was about an addict, it was no Drugstore Cowboy - that was a pretty good movie about an addict.

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