Then August came and I was suddenly hit with several films that interested me, either because of fantastic reviews or great word of mouth. So, on Saturday, I went out to eat a couple slices of pizza at a great pizzeria near PSU (which features pizza as close to authentic Italian as I've ever found in the USA). I had a copy of the movie listings in front of me as I ate and for the life of me, I could not decide which movie I wanted to see. Time ran out, and I didn't want to catch the last show, so I decided to try again on Sunday. If I had the money to spare, I would have seen all five that I wanted to see. But at $10.50, even one would be an indulgence, especially since I have Netflix and should wait until the films come out on DVD.
But, I wanted to see a movie in a theater this weekend and these were the films that really had me in a bind: District 9, The Hurt Locker, The Time Traveler's Wife, Julie and Julia, and Inglorious Basterds. I was actually leaning towards The Time Traveler's Wife, but I don't like the theater its playing in (too many teeny boppers go to that one). Plus I had wanted to read the novel first (better get cracking on that before Edward Kennedy's memoirs hits next month!). I also wanted to see Julie and Julia, but that's a good date movie, if I could only find a date.
I like any movie that features Nazis in it, but I'm not really a fan of Quentin Tarantino. Yeah, he has some good dialogue, but his movies never really hit a home run with me. So his Inglorious Basterds was out. I can wait for DVD on that one. My sister loved District 9 and someone else on Facebook raved about it. I love that its set in South Africa, but I hate slimy and ugly looking aliens. Besides, its a film that my brother will probably want to see, so I'll save that for another day. So, by default The Hurt Locker won out over Julie and Julia because I figure that if I really want to do the private contractor thing in Iraq or Afghanistan, I should see this film now.
I'm glad that I did. The movie is the best movie yet about the Iraq War. And I've seen several: Jarhead (okay, so that was about the 1991 Gulf War), Redacted, Stop-Loss, and the miniseries Generation Kill (which I really loved). Hmmm, I thought there was more. I haven't seen Grace is Gone or In the Valley of Elah, yet. And I can't wait until Green Zone comes out (based on the book I read back in May about life in the Emerald City). The Hurt Locker, however, will be hard to top as far as war movies go. I'm not necessarily a fan of war movies, but its part of the male psyche, I think, so I have a few that I love: Casualties of War, Tigerland, and The Thin Red Line. Some are harder to watch than others.
I knew very little about The Hurt Locker. I haven't read the reviews beyond the blurbs seen in newspapers (I generally never pay much attention to those until this year, because District 9's ringing endorsement by Rolling Stone magazine calling it the movie event of this summer got my attention). I thought the title was dumb, but I read an explanation somewhere that all it meant was that men in war are taught to put whatever emotions they feel (fear, grief, anger) into a "hurt locker" (compartmentalizing of the sort that President Bill Clinton was famous for) to deal with later or never, though this may actually contribute to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The film sounded like a deeply psychological tale worth seeing. However, I don't recall hearing that term mentioned in the film. Though it may have been and I missed it.
The movie focuses on a team of three soldiers who work to find and dismantle the Improvised Explosive Devices found on roads throughout Baghdad. The year is 2004, at the beginning of the insurgency. This work is extremely dangerous, as one man suits up in a very spacey looking outfit that provides some protection from a blast, though it doesn't always turn out that way. The entire movie is intense because of this dangerous mission. Talk about an adrenaline rush. Even EMTs don't get this kind of excitement in their jobs!
Actor Jeremy Renner (above) plays Staff Sergeant William James, the lead guy in the I.E.D. squad. He's a bit of a daredevil who is an expert at what he does. He tells one officer, after being proded when his modesty was dismissed, that he has defused well over 800 I.E.D.s. He's the true hero of the film. What a great tribute to the actual soldiers who do this for a living. The pride and professionalism of our military members in Iraq is definitely something worth honouring, especially in film.
Though SSgt James sometimes clashes with his point man, Sgt Sanborn (played by Anthony Mackie), over leadership style and who gives the order and who follows, he does show his human side when he befriends a young Iraqi boy who hawks pornographic DVDs to soldiers. Its actually quite touching to see the lengths he goes to for the sake of the boy. The third man in the group is Specialist Eldridge (played by Brian Geraghty, who also played crazy in Jarhead). He obsesses over death and talks to the Army doctor about his thoughts. He is someone you wonder if he'll make it out alive, because he sometimes comes across as jumpy and afraid of his own shadow.
The guys in Generation Kill had the same kind of dialogues with the same kind of "profane" language as the guys I served with in the Navy. Its a universal male experience. So don't tell me that your image of the saintly soldier or sailor is realistic. Watch a war movie or miniseries first, then we'll talk. If you don't watch war movies because you don't like the violence...then why do you support sending our troops off to endless foreign wars? The real violence they face every day changes them in ways you can't possibly imagine. Watching a war movie in their honour would give you empathy and understanding. If you can't even do that for the war you supported, then you really need to rethink your entire value system.