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The Auteurs Daily: Bigelow and the Kids


The Auteurs Daily

The Hurt Locker

First, the good news. As Dave McNary reports for Variety, "Paramount is reteaming The Hurt Locker [site] director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal on action-adventure Triple Frontier," which will be "set in the notorious border zone between Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil where the Igazu and Parana rivers converge - making 'la triple frontera' difficult to monitor and a haven for organized crime." He goes on to note - and this is crucial with regard to a late summer debate slowing simmering out there - "The Hurt Locker has turned in a solid box office performance since Summit released the Iraq war thriller, grossing $9 million in seven weeks of limited release."

To the bad news. As Jeffrey Wells notes, "in the space of the last three days Bill Maher, Roger Ebert and NY Times critic AO Scott have all deplored abundant indications of rank stupidity and infantilism among the general public - Maher addressing diminished or nonexistent political awareness levels and Ebert/Scott pointing to increasing popularity of idiot-level CG paintbox/dada movies and the kneejerk avoidance among the under-25s of films with even a smidgen of adult texture or provocation."

The Hurt Locker, currently one of the highest-ranked films of the year at Metacritic, figures as part - I emphasize, part - of both Ebert and Scott's arguments. For Scott, it's "the kind of fierce and fiery action movie that might have been a blockbuster once upon a time," but is instead "treated like a delicate, exotic flower, released into art houses and sold on its prestige rather than on its visceral power." Ebert, picking up on a story by John Horn in the Los Angeles Times, suggests that younger audiences will go to see, say, G.I. Joe instead because they fear "a departure from groupthink." This, argues AJ Schnack in an entry that halfway sides with Scott (and takes Wells to task, too), is the "Faux-Outrage of the Week": "[I]nstead of blaming Summit for not running trailers in front of Twilight, instead of taking them to task for not marketing directly to teens (and remember this is an R rated war film), instead of questioning why the hell The Hurt Locker was submitted for the Spirit Awards last year (leading to two acting nominations and no nods in the Best Picture or Best Director categories), we've gotta blame the kids." And let's keep in mind: Even Variety thinks the movie's doing just fine.

Selected news and tips via @theauteursdaily: "Studies of 'Third Cinema' and anti-Eurocentric film culture" at Film Studies for Free; SaveFilm@LACMA (video; petition); Michael J Anderson on Eric Rohmer; AS Hamrah's new film column at n+1; Ross Douthat on Judd Apatow's conservatism; new issue of Offscreen; David Bordwell; Dave Kehr; the Siren on Budd Schulberg; and trailers: Raging Phoenix and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

Image: Kathryn Bigelow directing The Hurt Locker.

I wonder how many sober war movies about currently active wars were ever pitched as blockbusters? That’s exciting news about her next production though, and the subject is particularly exciting if that weird digression in Michael Mann’s MIAMI VICE which took place in that locale is any indication.
Just a note that you should check out Glenn Kenny’s latest post at “Some Came Running.” He addresses the Ebert, Wells and dumbing down finger-pointing of late. It’s my personal favorite take on the subject:
Danny, I’m guessing that after WWII, the “last good war,” not many. Not many at all. At the same time, though, during WWII and before, it’d have been more of a question of pitching an A versus a B picture rather than a four-quadrant blockbuster, right? Keith, many thanks. Wish I’d seen that and/or Glenn had posted it before this brief roundup. I’m reminded that, as sorry as I am about the circumstances that brought it about, we’re damn lucky to have Glenn blogging.
Right on, Daniel. Without polemics all that is left is things going BOOM! Easy then to make the blockbuster pitch. You’re right again about Bigelow’s next project. It rubs right up against “Miami Vice”
I don’t know, I think Hurt Locker has to be reevaluated immediately after having read some comments from actual members of the armed forces still deployed in Iraq who are outraged and frustrated at the so called “realistic” depiction of the EOD unit. Does a war film have an obligation to be totally realistic and accurate? No. But maybe when need a new set of obligations when people are still dying from the war that the film is attempting to depict. Or perhaps critics need to stop calling it “THE Iraq war film”, or even “realistic”. It’s kind of embarrassing and, in the words of one soldier, “bordering on disrespectful”. But what shocks me the most about this whole conversation about “spoon feeding the kids” is that it happens to be THIS film that seemed to spur this very needed and timely discussion. I am not sure what people see in this picture, but I see a thinly disguised Hollywood action-shock flick. And the inaccuracies just tip the whole tin machine over for me. Maybe the frustration that “the kids” aren’t going to see The Hurt Locker unconsciously stems from the fact that it’s just about as empty, far fetched and contrived as the movies that they are brain washed into seeing.

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