Saturday, January 23, 2010

Finally...An Iraq Movie that connects

THE HURT LOCKER'S Director Kathryn Bigelow's harrowing account of the days and nights of bomb defusors in Iraq is one of the leading contenders for Oscar trophies for film, director, and screenplay, yet hardly anyone has seen it. Now that the DVD is out, you owe it to yourself to forget those blue creatures and George Clooney and watch a really great movie. Unlike earlier Iraq-based movies, THE HURT LOCKER doesn't take sides, doesn't push an agenda, doesn't bash Bush and his agenda; it simply and graphically takes us through the physical and emotional challenges of the men who defuse bombs under grave circumstances.

Jeremy Remmer, a James Cagney look-a-like and type, plays the best ofthese brave people, but he is also a man who puts his fellow soldiers' lives in greater danger, takes ridiculous risks, drinks and smokes to excess, and cannot face himself or his family at home. Remmer brings a perfect balance of swagger and insecurity to his role, and he is supported by strong actors like Ralph Fiennes and Guy Pearce in small roles. The film itself is episodic as we count down the days to the end of the group's mission. One bomb crisis after another, including one in the open desert, builds the film's tension as well as the body count. There are moving small moments as well, such as Remmer's friendship with an Iraqi boy. You know almost instinctively where this will end. In another mistaken good deed, an army psychiatrist loses his life because he wanted to find out what it was like "out there."

Using lots of hand-held camera shots, Bigelow lets us get close to the danger. Her best device is the subjective shot from Remmer's point of view. The viewer is inside the bomb defusor's protective outfit and can hear his breathing as he gets closer to his possible extinction. This is a film that is hard to watch but also difficult to forget.

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