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Movies of the Month > The Hurt Locker

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message 1: by Elaine (new)

Elaine (httpgoodreadscomelaine_chaika) | 241 comments The Hurt Locker is directed by Kathy Bigelow -- yeah, a woman directing a war movie -- maybe that's why it busts the mold of war movies wide open. There are no heroes, no villains, no subordinates, no noble mission, no stock characters. When a superior officer, who doesn't act all that superior, gives an order, the subordinate says, "You don't tell me 'no' I tell you 'no'" In other words, each of them is there to do his job and nobody bosses anyone else around. Nobody vies for power. In a strange way, this movie is as much about doing one's job and doing it well as it is about war. The soldiers don't smoke dope, and don't inject themselves with botanicals or chemicals. They're there to do a job: defusing bombs, and that is what they do. And they do it whenever necessary, even if it's for the enemy, not that it's always clear who the enemy is.

Bombs are the underlying metaphor of this film. You never know where they are or when they'll go off. Death is always an instant away. Life, in the sense of staying alive, is a crapshoot. That is true of civilian life as well. Nobody knows what will happen to blow your little world away until it happens. War just brings to the forefront the essential dilemma of the most carefully planned life: chance.

This movie is unremittingly suspenseful. By using extraordinary close-ups, Bigelow places the viewer in the movie. The shot may be of someone's left eye, the view you'd have if you were next to the owner of that eye. The camera moves in on the action, so, again, you feel as if you're in the midst of it. You see two feet walking and in a cut so quick, you're unaware that there was a cut, those same feet are walking in another pair of shoes, and they're walking towards what? Danger? Everything is potentially dangerous but also potentially harmless. You find yourself with bated breath, tensed up, your heart pounding with each step...will the next one be a misstep? Boom!!

The sense of danger is heightened by canted shots, swish pans, and handheld shaky shots. The lighting is stark at times, bleached out like the desert, but at others, the characters are in Hell with red fiery backgounds, smoke, and blackened figures moving. The sound track is subdued, often completely silent, but at others, music seeps in at a bare whisper.

Kathy Bigelow, and the director of cinematography have made a completely unexpected war movie, and made it so well, that even so jaded a viewer as I am was emotionally drained at the end. The war movie will never be the same after this film, at least for me (and the guys I was watching it with, one of whom is himself a filmmaker.)

It probably won't get any Oscars, but this deserves an Academy Award for best everything, except perhaps for costumes. How many ways can you dress up an army uniform?


message 2: by Anna (new)

Anna (lilfox) | 465 comments The movie is great. I loved the scene in supermarket. In Iraq the choice of many things is very limited even for soldiers and you're standing in front of big row of just cereals, you get confused. I know that many soldiers that went to Iraq, Afganistan or other place like that have problems choosing. Because during their stay on the mission the choices they were making were nearly 100% black or white. When they get back home - even when they're totally physically healthy - they have probems with catching all nuances.


TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) I think it'll win "Best Picture." I don't want it to, so I think it will.


message 4: by Phillip (last edited Mar 06, 2010 01:04AM) (new)

Phillip | 10366 comments have any of you heard about one of the producers who wrote some letter encouraging members of the academy to vote for hurt locker? apparently he's been banned from attending this year's award ceremony.

i think the academy is completely lame and don't give a hoot about what they think is good cinema. it's one of the biggest self-congratulatory events of the year. hollywood likes to believe the films they put out mean something...let them have their illusions.


message 5: by Ceci (new)

Ceci (cecialbiceleste) | 529 comments I totally agree on the Oscars, Phillip. Just the fact that a childish and cliche-ridden smurf romp such as Avatar can get gazillion nominations tells what the show's about...


message 6: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10366 comments Ceci wrote: "Just the fact that a childish and cliche-ridden smurf romp such as Avatar can get gazillion nominations tells what the show's about..."


...you mean, money?

:)


message 7: by Anna (new)

Anna (lilfox) | 465 comments For me there are 4 movies that could get the Oscar for best movie:
1. The Hurt Locker
2. An Education
3. Precious: based on the novel "Push" by Sapphire
4. Up in the air

or maybe Ingorious Basterds.

But The Hurt Locker is my favourite.


message 8: by Tom (new)

Tom | 5232 comments I fell asleep about 20 minutes in to HURT LOCKER. There was absolutely nothing of interest about the movie for me. I just couldn't have cared less going in, and there was nothing about the film itself to keep me awake. Glad folks like it.


message 9: by Sooz (new)

Sooz Bigelow is up for director, and i know there has never been a woman named for best director, but i'm not sure if there has been a best movie directed by a woman or not.

Bigelow and the movie both deserve to win.

i do wonder if Bigelow could be the woman to get the first oscar for best directing. as Elaine states, Bigelow gives a different interpretation of a war movie - but it is a war movie all the same.

will the first woman to receive best director get it for making what the academy considers, a 'man's' movie?


message 10: by Ceci (new)

Ceci (cecialbiceleste) | 529 comments Well, Hurt Locker's certainly better than Avatar (well, doesn't take a whole lot...) but the most interesting character is killed in the beginning and every Iraqi is a shifty-eyed terrorist. So...


message 11: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments For the first time my top film of the year was also nominated for a Academy Award. I'm not sure if that means the Academy is making better artistic decisions or my tastes are devolving...

Ceci said: ...and every Iraqi is a shifty-eyed terrorist.

You're right but maybe for the wrong reason. In a war zone every person is a potential enemy when seen subjectively from the soldier's viewpoint. Bigelow makes a point in showing a friendly young man walk towards one of the soldiers and he is quickly threatened and pushed aside. No winning of hearts and minds here...


message 12: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10366 comments Sooz wrote: "Bigelow is up for director, and i know there has never been a woman named for best director, but i'm not sure if there has been a best movie directed by a woman or not."

really? i thought mary harron was received a nomination for her bettie page flick...but maybe that was best actress.


message 13: by Sooz (new)

Sooz there have been women nominated. i meant there hasn't been a woman who won. i should have been clearer.


message 14: by Sooz (new)

Sooz Alex DeLarge wrote: "For the first time my top film of the year was also nominated for a Academy Award. I'm not sure if that means the Academy is making better artistic decisions or my tastes are devolving...

Ceci s..."


you make a good point Alex - there is one scene where the main character - who looks as American as they come - walking into a base camp. in seconds flat, he is on his knees with a gun in his face and soldiers yelling at him. everyone is a potential enemy.


TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) Tom wrote: "I fell asleep about 20 minutes in to HURT LOCKER. There was absolutely nothing of interest about the movie for me. I just couldn't have cared less going in, and there was nothing about the film i..."

Oh, I did NOT like it, either! I sincerely hope it does NOT win, but I feel it will.


message 16: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10366 comments it was on my top 10 films of 2009. again, it doesn't matter to me what the academy thinks.


TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) My top movies never even get nominated. Well, not usually. I did like "The White Ribbon."


message 18: by Elaine (new)

Elaine (httpgoodreadscomelaine_chaika) | 241 comments At the beginning of the movie, there's a line: war is a drug -- and HL shows this. also, when the bomb detonator goes home, he says to his baby, "There's only one thing I care that much about." I think you're right: adrenaline rush is one drug -- but isn't there also the fact of saving lives? I think that's the one thing he cares that much about Recall he even tries to save the lives of an enemy (if that's the right term for Iraqi's in this war. Victims is probably a better term)


message 19: by Elaine (last edited Mar 06, 2010 05:27PM) (new)

Elaine (httpgoodreadscomelaine_chaika) | 241 comments Ceci wrote: "Well, Hurt Locker's certainly better than Avatar (well, doesn't take a whole lot...) but the most interesting character is killed in the beginning and every Iraqi is a shifty-eyed terrorist. So..."
Part of the point is that in this so-called war, you don't know who is the "enemy." More exactly, you don't know who is a suicide bomber. They are deliberately chosen to look like "friends." Suicide bombers aren't dressed in an "enemy" uniform. Part of the problem in this war (which, by the way, I abhor--I feel we have no right there and we were the invaders and aggressors)-- but, anyways, the reality is that there are suicide bombers. There is no way to tell who is going to try to kill the US soldiers. We are not fighting another army there. When one GI did try to befriend an Iraqi, he was warned against it because nobody could tell if the civilian meant harm. On the other hand, the American bomb detonator did try to help the civilian who had been strapped with bombs. He did his job wherever it was needed and whoever needed it. I don't think the movie portrayed our "mission" there as justified in any way. Nor were the Iraqis made out to be shifty-eyed villains. The US soldiers are there because they were sent there and don't seem to have any particular animus against the Iraqis, but they do need to protect themselves against suicide bombers. That is a reality they have to face. One other point: when I was in the Middle East as a tourist, I found the Arabs very friendly. They were not "shifty-eyed terrorists." To the contrary they greet you with warm smiles. Greeting people warmly is part of their culture. I was shocked when the first suicide bombings occurred because my experiences were that Arabs are friendly. People I know who have actually lived in Israel tell me that the suicide bombers not only do not look militant in any way, they do actually look at people and greet them in a friendly manner. That's how they get so close in a crowd. That doesn't mean all Arabs are terrorists. Obviously they're not, but, if you are there, (especially, as in Iraq with our soldiers), you do have to beware of the possibility of suicide bombers. The fact that I think our soldiers have no right to be there doesn't mean that I think they are wrong to try to protect themselves from danger. Things are complicated.


message 20: by Ceci (new)

Ceci (cecialbiceleste) | 529 comments Elaine, I'm well aware of all that (I think we all are). But it would have been far more interesting to see something that contradicts the U.S. soldier's POV in the movie. The best parts of the movie were definitely the ones set in the U.S. The most ambiguous, and the most revealing.


message 21: by Ceci (last edited Mar 06, 2010 11:49PM) (new)

Ceci (cecialbiceleste) | 529 comments Oh, and I did in fact live and work in Israel for a year... so I have some experience of how these things work. HL was interesting, but flawed.


message 22: by TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (last edited Mar 18, 2010 09:46AM) (new)

TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) Rob wrote: "Bigelow and James Cameron were once married, right? I wonder how much there is to the idea that the two films were pitted against each other on purpose...to add some tension to the proceedings? T..."

It's Hollywood. It sounds like something they would do.

Personally, I didn't like THE HURT LOCKER, but I'm so anti-Iraq war, I wouldn't. I do support US troops, but I support them by wanting them home.


message 23: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10366 comments it's not like the film is in support of the war...the opposite, i think. in fact, i don't have to think about it. it's an anti-war film.


TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) Phillip wrote: "it's not like the film is in support of the war...the opposite, i think. in fact, i don't have to think about it. it's an anti-war film."

I just don't like giving any attention to the war. And I didn't like the main character at all.

All in all, I agree with Ceci, it had some interesting parts, but it was flawed, certainly not the best movie of the year by a long shot.


message 25: by Steve (new)

Steve | 957 comments Gabrielle wrote:

I just don't like giving any attention to the war ..."


Gabrielle, just curious, can you elaborate on this feeling? Do you think war films shouldn't be made at all, or do you just frequently choose not to watch them?


TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) Steve-O wrote: "Gabrielle wrote:

I just don't like giving any attention to the war ..."

Gabrielle, just curious, can you elaborate on this feeling? Do you think war films shouldn't be made at all, or do you just..."


No, I don't think people should stop making them. There have been a few war films I did like. I just didn't think THE HURT LOCKER was a very good film.


message 27: by Phillip (last edited Mar 18, 2010 11:21AM) (new)

Phillip | 10366 comments fair enough. but you said you don't like giving attention to war. art has to deal with all the aspects of being human, imo. and war seems to be an integral part of being human. i'm a pacifist, so believe me, i'm not saying that because i want to promote war - but art lets us step back and take a look at things that are difficult to talk about. for the most part, a lot of war films have been used for propaganda, i'm not down with that. but i think this film was trying to do something different - to show how military training and certain aspects of combat create an addictive relationship between the subject and battle.


TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez (Madly77) Phillip wrote: "fair enough. but you said you don't like giving attention to war. art has to deal with all the aspects of being human, imo. and war seems to be an integral part of being human. i'm a pacifist, so b..."

I don't feel the movie was art. It's my personal reaction and I can't explain beyond that. I have no problem with the movie per se, though, or anyone who loves it and does think it's art. We all like different things.


message 29: by Matt (new)

Matt | 218 comments Phillip wrote: "it's not like the film is in support of the war...the opposite, i think. in fact, i don't have to think about it. it's an anti-war film."

Really? I didn't think it made much of a judgment re: war either way and esp. not the current situations in the middle east/afghanistan.

I really liked this film but I thought the war itself was rather secondary. To say this film is anti-war or anti-military would be like saying WAGES OF FEAR was anti-teamsters or something like that.


message 30: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10366 comments i don't know how you can watch this film and see the kind of effect that war has on the human psyche and not come away thinking the film is saying, hmm, maybe we shouldn't live this way.

but whatever...


message 31: by Elaine (new)

Elaine (httpgoodreadscomelaine_chaika) | 241 comments I couldn't agree with you more. Also, it's a rare movie because it's about a man's addiction to saving people, not killing them. He does what he does to save lives, to prevent death,& he does it for the supposed enemy as well as the Americans. And what kind of people turn others into living bombs? How crazy is that? But don't we have a hand in that? How else can the Iraqis kill our soldiers? We have no business being there. They can't fight us soldier to soldier.

I was appalled at someone saying we shouldn't be making movies about the war at all. If the media don't let us know the idiocies our government perpetrates, then they're not doing their job. It's the duty of movies to comment on the war, to show its futility. Or, if they agree with it, to portay it favorably.(Of course I'm glad Bigelow is not Pro-war) Perhaps, had the media done its job in 1950, & showed the truth about Korea, the mitary wouldn't have gotten so much power that they instigated Vietnam. There should be more movies about Afghanistan & Iraq, not fewer.


message 32: by Matt (new)

Matt | 218 comments You really thought the protag was addicted to saving lives? Honestly I thought he was more interested in risking his own i.e. left the safe zone not once but twice looking for a fire-fight (at least the second time he was). I found him to be a reckless thrill-seeking cowboy but nonetheless compelling. Any thoughts on REDACTED?

I believe RAMBO III was set in Afghanistan but not exactly what you had in mind- with that in mind I thought the latest installment in the RAMBO series was a decent anti-war film, and I am not kidding.


message 33: by Elaine (new)

Elaine (httpgoodreadscomelaine_chaika) | 241 comments Perhaps it's both. He had to be someone who wasn't afraid of risking his own life, and that can be addictive, but he chose to risk his life to save lives, not by driving in the Indie 500 or by tormenting bulls. I must confess I'm culturally ignorant. I've never seen the Rambo films altho I did see Rocky and loved it (but only the first one)


message 34: by Sooz (new)

Sooz that's it isn't it? we are not privy to the reasons what's-his-name (i have also forgotten) joined the miliatry or the bomb squad. i like that we don't have that information. whoever that guy was - whatever his intentions - HE's GONE.

we meet the addict. that's who he is now.

the quote that opens this movie is so powerful. i am not surprised a director - upon reading it- would want to use it. i think i thought of The Hurt Locker as an anti-war movie the moment i read it - before i'd seen the first frame of the actual movie.

like Rob says, it's kind of a given - war sucks.


message 35: by Connie (new)

Connie | 12 comments I just posted on the main thread before realizing that their was a thread for this movie. A guy I know who watched this movie thought that it gave an erroneous perpsctive of soldiers fiqhting in Iraq today. He thought it portrayed soldiers as a bunch of gung-ho kids. I didn't get that impression at all. I thought it was pretty realistic, and didn't give any false perceptions. I have known men like James and the other soldiers both in and out of the military. I agree the movie wasn't either prowar or antiwar, just one picture of an aspect of a soldier's experience. I liked it.


message 36: by Geoffrey (new)

Geoffrey | 209 comments In answer to message 33 by Rob

Why are we in Afghanistan? Well to put it succinctly, it`s a melodrama akin to Brer Rabbit pokin`the tar baby. You know, he kept on getting madder and madder cause the tar baby wouldn`t let him go. Didn`t even have the decency to talk to him.
So it is with the Taliban. Osama doesn`t belong to the Taliban but when he did his deed back in 2001, the Taliban high command received a request from the US state department to hand him over. They deliberated and could have done exactly that but the biggest muftah, or ayatollah or whomever said no go. We will protect him and the US can go you know where. But it all started when us put out a contract on Osama the week before 9/11 so we can see that was the first time the rabbit struck the tar baby. Now that the Taliban wouldn`t give up Osama, we struck Tar Baby again. So what does Taliban decide to do. Why take over the country and that would inure it to further attacks from the US. So now what do we do? We hit Tar Baby agin and agin. Boy is Brer Rabbit really mad now.
The point I am making is that our involvement in Afghanistan makes just about as much sense as my comparing it to the Tar Baby story.


message 37: by Audrey (new)

Audrey (Audrey_G) | 18 comments Loved this film. It was very realistic and the character development was excellent. It kept my interest all the way through. One of the best war stories I have ever seen.


message 38: by Kaye (new)

Kaye Bernardo (margaux74) | 1 comments Interesting movie that me and my friend anxiously waited for another bombs to go off in his face. :D


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