Sunday, September 06, 2009
The Hurt Locker: yes, you can believe the hype
Went to see The Hurt Locker yesterday, a film about bomb disposal experts in Iraq. There's been no shortage of films about the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, but this is the first one I had any urge to see. Back near the start of this year I gave a lecture about war films to a class of undergrads on an English and Film module. It was researching that which first made me pay attention to The Hurt Locker.
The film was first seen at film festivals last year and got raves. A distributor picked it up for release in US cinemas, despite the fact films dealing with the war in Iraq have been box office poison. Screenwriter Mark Boal was a journalist who'd been embedded with troops in Iraq, which promised a gritty realism not found in a lot of war films. And then there was the director: Kathryn Bigelow.
Female directors don't get much of a shake, particularly in Hollywood. Don't believe me? Try naming five female film directors. Now name another five. If you can name another five, you're either an academic or an utter movie geek. Kathryn Bigelow doesn't make that many films, and she certainly doesn't make chick films or rom-coms. Her movies have got guts in abundance, plus plenty of heart and smarts.
Bigelow's features include influential vampire western Near Dark, the gripping Blue Steel, that kitsch classic Point Break and a film I really must see soon, Strange Days. She's dabbled with TV [if you could call three eps of the excellent Homicide: Life on the Street] dabbling. And she's got one real stinker on her resume, K19: The Widowmaker with Harrison Ford as a Russian sub commander [or some such shite].
The stinker almost killed her career stone dead, so it's brilliant to see her return with a movie as stunning as The Hurt Locker. I won't spoil any part of it for you, except to see you should see it in a cinema. Make the effort. Come Oscar time, this will be in the running for a statue [or several, if there's any justice]. Amazing performance by Jeffrey Renner, too - give that man a golden statue.