Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Critiquing the Critics: Not the John Hughes movie of the same name...

...or did I just imagine something again? Didn't John Hughes get Howard Deutch to direct a movie about a high school kid finding himself over a long weekend after getting locked into his locker by the school bully? ¶ Oh, I'm just trying to delay the inevitable again, as usual. Well, the buzz about The Hurt Locker continues to swirl as the big Oscar ceremony approacheth. And now the buzz is that she'll be the first female director ever to win an Oscar. But for a guy like me, I can't help but think, what does this say about the Academy? I mean, it's not like they'd be giving the award to Allison Anders or Nancy Savoca or, God forbid, a raging feminist like Jane Campion. No, perhaps it's time after all to give the director of Point Break and Strange Days her due. That is, unless James Cameron wants it more.
The film has damn near received universal critical acclaim. Four stars, A+, what have you. But I usually get the best street cred read on a film from The Onion, and they've abandoned me in this instance.
However, all was not lost, as my old reliable friends at the World Socialist Web Site were on the case. I KNEW there was a reason I couldn't enjoy this film too much! Sure, defusing a bomb is a tense situation, but somehow the film for the most part neglects the larger picture. Some have ventured to call this film apolitical, but we live in such a knee-jerk society that can instantaneously build towers of paranoia Babel out of two words. ("Global test" ring a bell?) Two words is the ideal length, or maybe it's just two syllables now. Very yin yang. But I ask you, with Iraq being the new Vietnam and all, what could be more political than saying you want to get out of Iraq? Which that one black dude does at the end of the... oops! Forgot. Spoiler Alert. No, the moment where the Iraqi citizen tries to engage him in conversation and he goes "Yo! This ain't a meet 'n greet, motha..." That about sums it up right there.
That being said, I found the acting in the film to be exemplary across the board. The three guest stars did well. My viewing companions were wondering if David Morse was being sarcastic when talking to the hero of the movie. It does seem to walk a tightrope, but in the end it seemed to be respect for this crazy-ass dude that's almost diffused a thousand explosive devices.
The script is the key thing, as it usually is. From the writer of In The Valley of Elah, Mark Boal did some research for this movie in Iraq, apparently, and it shows. I think he'll probably get the Oscar... I already forget what I predicted. Although I don't have the genius to make direct isomorphic comparisons to Hurt Locker and Point Break, I couldn't help but think they were both similar in terms of the quest for adrenalin. Hurt Locker's just a little less campy. Okay, a lot less. I think that's all I got. Guess I shoulda got to the review a little sooner after I saw it.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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