Monday, December 14, 2009


Just a word about THE HURT LOCKER. The film is picking up momentum across the country as the film of the year. It was a rather strange year for films, almost a flatline of routine studio fare, with few exceptions. But this film is gently emerging as something of a phenomenon, despite being released earlier in the season, with disappointing results at the box office. However, anyone who has seen THE HURT LOCKER (and I have talked to many men and women of different generations) has been been powerfully affected by it.

I finally saw it myself, and was deeply moved by its truth. It is a perfectly calibrated drama directed by the gifted Kathryn Bigelow. She's crafted a silently explosive (forgive the pun) thriller about the impact of war on an elite American military unit in Iraq whose expertise is ferreting out hidden bombs, and delicately dismantling them-- before they are dismantled. The film is based on the observations of screenwriter Mark Boal, a journalist who was actually in the field observing this ultra-dangerous work. There is little dialogue, and much tension; it resonates long after the film has ended, and works its way into the psyches of these soldiers long after they've left the battlefield. I have never seen a movie that so clearly communicates the adrenaline rush of war and its attendant addictive nature, as well as the sense of alienation experienced by those who return home; they suddenly find themselves lost in the landscape of everyday life, now rendered absurd. The film is not marred by politics; rather, the screenplay very closely observes an extreme state of being, and shows us its devastating effects.
The title itself is multi-layered: what is "the hurt locker"? Is it merely the suit worn to protect against the blast? Is it the literal box where the sergeant keeps the souvenirs of his death- defying missions, as a reminder that he has survived? Is it a metaphorical refuge from fear and pain? Or is it the place of fear and pain where he is forever locked in?
The movie may be many things, but it is not marred by politics; instead, it chooses to look very closely and clearly at an extreme state of being, while letting us experience the fall-out. This is one of the great things that movies can do: they let us in on the truth of an experience we might never have access to any other way. Only then can we decide what to do with that knowledge.

Golden Globe nominations are out tomorrow--I can hardly wait to see what comes up!

Good night--
and stay tuned!

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