Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Hurt Locker ...unbelieveably absurd

Based on my mixed experience with Kathryn Bigelow's previous movies, ranging from excellent ('Strange Days') to abysmal ('K-19: The Widowmaker'), I didn't know what to expect from her first full length picture in quite some time. After seeing it, I'm beginning to suspect that everything I liked in 'Strange Days' should probably be credited to James Cameron. 

'The Hurt Locker' follows the last several weeks of an EOD (that's Explosive Ordnance Disposal for the non-military) unit rotation in, yes, you guessed that correctly, Iraq. And then the shitstorm starts. Not in Iraq, in the movie. Now we all know that the military have somewhat different idea of what common sense is and that military intelligence is a classic oxymoron, but nevertheless they are not idiots. Even if some are, they have a strict set of SOPs which, no matter how stupid they may seem to a civilian, are literally written in blood. However, every character in the movie seemed determined to act like a complete and utter moron, not only ignoring the normal military procedures, but showing total disregard for common sense and ultimately, for their own life. Examples? Be my guests:

Exhibit A: a bomb disposal robot loses its trailer with some explosives on it. I can't speak for the military, but I guess they would use one of the common sense approaches - get a new trailer, drag the old trailer to safety and fix it, get a new robot, or evacuate the area and shoot on the IED to detonate it. You think? Hell no, the only way to get some explosives to the bomb is to get your retarded ass as close to the bomb as possible and collect your Darwin award immediately. Honestly, if I were the commanding officer of this unit, I'd see to get the so-called bomb expert court-martialed and if the motherfucker somehow got off the hook, to send him to mental care institution and sedate him. Heavily. If not for his own good, then for the good of the innocent bystanders.

Exhibit B: you disarm an IED made from an artillery shell and decide to follow the wire. Upon discovery that the wire branches out in several directions, you either a) follow every branch very-very cautiously and disarm whatever you find at each end, or b) pull the fucking wires as hard as you can in firm belief that the insurgents are total schmucks, bigger retards than you and incompetent bombers, and even if there are secondary detonators, they won't go off? Darwin award number two.

Exhibit C: a car full of explosives is set on fire. By a rifle shot no less, screw the 'Last Action Hero' lessons on how easy cars catch fire when shot at. Never mind the assumption that a two of a three man bomb squad have to secure the area on their own, we already assumed the military are idiots. The real gem here is the so-called bomb expert, who rolls up his sleeves and starts putting out the fire. With the car so full of explosives that 'the suspension is sagging'. Well, fuck me gently with a chainsaw ©'Heathers'. 

And you know what? We're only like twenty minutes into a movie over two hours long, and it doesn't improve later. We get the same bomb squad or members thereof repairing their Humvee (sure, no motor pools in the base), trucking out and detonating shitloads of disarmed IEDs in the desert (yes, they are bomb techs, mechanics AND truckers), in a sniper duel (bomb techs, mechanics, truckers AND snipers), you get the picture... I suppose some of these events bear some hidden and wise meaning or serve some purpose, like showing character development, or symbolizing the loneliness of a Man facing a Bomb, whatever, to me it was just a pointless, erratic sequence of illogical actions that could be attributed only to a severe brain damage, Down syndrome or subconscious death wish. However, after the scene with the techs celebrating with friendly punches in the stomach, I think I'm going to go with the brain damage. How are we supposed to relate to these characters, feel compassion or even identify with them after that is completely beyond me.

Truth be told, there are a couple of good things, mostly the rendition of the explosions, these were done in a remarkably spectacular and convincing way. Small, but pleasant cameo appearances by Guy Pearce, David Morse and Ralf Fiennes (although I have the sneaking suspicion that his scene was there only to show him on screen). However, none of these doesn't make this movie even remotely enjoyable or convincing - you can safely skip it and you won't miss anything except the demise of Ms. Bigelow's once promising career.
Digg this

Thursday, February 5, 2009

W. - Half assed stab gone wrong.

Here we go again - a renowned director (undeservedly so in my opinion, but who am I to argue), a brilliant cast and a complete piece of shit as the next installment in Stone's presidential series. Stone is obviously after the cheap publicity that would inevitably come from his choice of such a controversial subject as George W. Bush beyond any doubt is, so I will try to spell his name (Stone's, not W's) right as not to disappoint him. 

The main problem with this lukewarm puddle of piss of a movie is that it is trying to leave us with the impression that it is an unbiased and impartial bio picture. Naturally, this is far from being easy, considering the long and wide trail of stupid if not outright retarded stuff Dubya has left behind, and the several half-hearted personal attacks clearly show that Stone didn't manage to avoid the trap of slipping in his own agenda. The final result is a movie that tries not to (God forbid) irritate anyone, but ironically pisses off with its half-assed position Dubya supporters and haters alike. The former because of the frivolous (yeah, yeah, artistic freedom, whatever) treatment of the facts and several of Dubya's most famous quotes which make him look like a complete idiot (duh, like we had doubts about that after the bold statement that 'I believe men and fish can coexist peacefully'), which definitely defeats the intended impartiality of the movie. The latter because of the guarded attitude which they would no doubt perceive as way too delicate and gentle, if not even whitewashing. 

Another irritating feature is the amateurish psychology - the poor Dubya, tired of being the family's black sheep and fuck up, so desperately craves his paternal authority figure's approval that he goes to his own war to get it right this time. Lame. And worse, cynical, we're talking a war which cost the most conservative numbers estimate at $3 trillion, 2 million of refugees and tens of thousands deaths. We are supposed to feel for him, see, he can't accomplish shit on his own, because he's been born with the proverbial silver spoon and everything is being taken care of by his father. Lame. He'd like nothing better than to run a baseball team. Really? Then why the fuck sit in the White House for eight fucking years? LAAAAAAAAAME!!! He's a good guy really, just not the sharpest knife in the drawer, prone to bad influence, so Rumsfeld, Cheney and Rove steer him wherever they want to. What the fuck? Let's resort to Reductio ad Hitlerum just to further emphasize Stone's ineptitude at delivering a message - see, Herr Adolf must have been a good guy too, blah-blah sensitive soul, being painter and all, it must have been the bad, bad Goebbels, Borman and Goering. Same goes for Uncle Joe and his evil mastermind Beria, right? Now, I wouldn't give a flying fuck if he's an incompetent weak-minded and absent-willed retard, if he weren't Commander-in-Chief of the world's strongest military force, but that makes him far more dangerous than a monkey with a hand grenade. I couldn't help but notice that Stone also very, very carefully avoided raising painful subjects as Katrina, the financial crisis, the whole Patriot Act, and only brushed on torture tactics, without mentioning Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib. Bottom line? Stone's trying to mindfuck the audience is just as delicate and graceful as a sneaking elephant. 

There is a single strong point of the movie though, and this is Josh Brolin. His reincarnation as W. was amazing and incredibly convincing, I almost forgot I'm not watching the actual W., too bad his talent was washed away in the tsunami of bullshit coming from the screen. This movie had its balls crushed because of Stone's patethic attempt to keep it sitting on the fence.

Digg this

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Seven Pounds ...could be good if it weren't that stupid

'Seven Pounds' follows the last days of Tim Thomas (Will Smith), an obviously well paid space engineer, who caused a road accident killing seven, including his wife, by using his cell phone while driving. Ruined by guilty conscience he takes the wise and democratic decision to pay for his sin a pound of flesh (figuratively speaking) for each of the seven lives he took. He assumes the identity of his brother Ben and posing as an IRS agent finds and meets seven people, deemed worthy of his help which takes the form of donating his organs - lung, liver, kidneys, marrow, eyes (?!?!) and heart - and last, but not least, a house (just for the nitpicking, how many pounds does that count for?).

The opening scene spoils it somewhat, as it shows Tim Thomas requesting an ambulance on 911 for his own suicide, so you already know the end of the story, but you still have to spend the next half an hour trying to figure how and why he reached that decision. Don't misunderstand me, these aren't thirty minutes filled with storytelling and explaining our hero's motivation, this is just how much it must have taken Gabriele Muccino to account for part of the budget with several overextended and fragmented scenes that grace us with the evaluation of some of the intended recipients of the graceful donation. The criteria will hardly surprise anyone, if you've been good, you get to live, if you've been naughty - die, motherfucker, die.

The unsuspecting audience is then introduced to the method our hero intends to use for putting his miserable existence to end, namely by the means of jellyfish poison (sic!). Actually that strikes me as quite ingenious, provided it's not imperative to keep his organs fit for transplantation. By the way, the jellyfish apparently turns out to be of some unknown freshwater inhabiting species, unless this specific motel provides sea water on the tap. And no, no matter how logical it might seem after that, there are no low-flying snails and killer bees later in the story. The Animal Planet contribution is restricted to a Great Dane, who turns out to be vegetarian (hardly on his own accord) but still barks like a real dog.

Anyway, all that's left to see after that is the decent, so-so convincing and extremely heart-touching love story between Tim 'Stupid Suicide' Thomas and the desperately needing a heart transplant Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson, who gets the applause for her performance). And even though the lifelike love between them tried to pry a tear of compassion even out of me (not a surprise really, being the watery sucker for drama that I am), it doesn't really offer anything new, just the old story of the beautiful doomed love, in which one person must sacrifice him/herself for the other... sob.

It is my deep belief that great romance stories can be told without decorating unnecessary and pointless acts as suicide attempts with glory and heroics. I am also sure that a highly educated person, however depressed he is, can realize that he is a greater asset to society and can contribute more than being dismantled to provide spares and that if he lives, works and is devoted to the cause with all his heart, he can save how many people, 70? 700? 7000...? An engineer is supposed to know what efficiency means. Likewise, the fat-ass overpaid movie moguls are supposed to sit and think what kind of message they are conveying and what kind of images they are promoting.
Digg this