Everything Is Nice

Beating the nice nice nice thing to death (with fluffy pillows)

“At last, a Iraq War film capable of packing the ‘plexes.”

with 6 comments

I’m having a busy weekend so to tide you over here are two posts from Aaron Body at The Valve on The Hurt Locker and In The Valley Of Elah. I watched the latter last week and I still need to order my thoughts about the two films but I will say that Tommy Lee Jones has been doing some excellent work these last five years. (By the way, the title of the post is a quote from Heat’s review of Green Zone.)

Advertisements

Written by Martin

14 March 2010 at 10:27

6 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I’ve only seen parts of The Valley of Elah, but I read Body’s post about The Hurt Locker very shortly after seeing the film and it strikes me as so completely missing not only the point of the film but key details from it (his representation and interpretation of scene near the end of the film in which the main character tells his wife about a bombing in Iraq, for example, is completely mistaken) that it’s hard to know how to take his more sensible sounding comments on Elah. That The Hurt Locker makes no meaningful comment about Iraq as a specific war, or about its causes and the effect that it has had on the Iraqi people, is obviously a tricky and perhaps even fatal aspect of the film, but Body insists on treating it as a bug when it is clearly a feature.

    Abigail

    14 March 2010 at 15:16

  2. I disagree with Body and consider the film successful but I do think there is substance to his remarks, even if he pursues them too far. James’s wife doesn’t “coldly look away” but she is disinterested because she is unable to understand what he is trying to say. What is your reading of the scene?

    As for Body insisting on treating it as a bug when it is a feature, I think he is just refusing to concede that the possibility of making it a feature: “The Hurt Locker performs the very same techno-philic detachment which enables a man in a humvee to run over a child”. And again, I can see his point.

    Martin

    15 March 2010 at 13:10

  3. I think that James’s wife understands what he’s saying perfectly. The incident he describes in the scene in question is horrific – children lured into the blast radius of a bomb with candy – and once he’s finished relating it, he mentions that there’s a shortage of bomb disposal experts like himself in Iraq. He’s trying to soften her up for his reenlistment by appealing to her sympathies for the dead Iraqi children, and her refusal to engage is a rejection of that ploy – he is not, she’s telling him, going to get her to sign off on this decision. You could even, though I admit the film offers no evidence of this, read her reaction as a rejection not only of the tug on her sympathies but of James’s representation of his own. We know, after all, that James doesn’t want to go back to Iraq in order to save children, but because he craves the thrill of his work there – why shouldn’t Mrs. James be aware of this as well?

    “The Hurt Locker performs the very same techno-philic detachment which enables a man in a humvee to run over a child”. And again, I can see his point.

    I suppose the question is whether you think the film depicts this detachment positively. The opening crawl is quite explicit, and I think it’s pretty easy to read the film as a chronicle of addiction, which slowly erodes everything living and worthwhile in the main character’s soul, until he loves the risk of death more than his own son.

    Abigail

    15 March 2010 at 14:11

  4. I think that James’s wife understands what he’s saying perfectly.

    My original memory of this scene obvious isn’t strong enough since what you’ve just said has triggered a new one. I would agree that your reading is stronger than Body’s (with the caveat that I’m not at all sure of my own view now).

    I suppose the question is whether you think the film depicts this detachment positively.

    If not positively then it is certainly ambiguously. Sure, it is a study of addiction but it is at least as much about the bomb disposal scenes themselves, it is complicit as much as it condemn. I don’t think The Hurt Locker is harsh enough to depict the complete erosion of James’s soul; Body describes James’s return home as being “boringly and conventionally emasculating” and boring and conventional is one way of describing the film’s rather routine treatment of James’s addiction.

    Martin

    15 March 2010 at 15:20

  5. it’s hard to know how to take his more sensible sounding comments on Elah.

    I think there’s something in them, but I also had a fairly strong “I like the film you saw better than the film I saw” reaction. Not that I thought Elah was bad, it just hasn’t really stayed with me. So to the extent that Body is right, I don’t think the film makes its point terribly forcefully.

    Niall

    15 March 2010 at 16:42

  6. My problem with The Hurt Locker is that it felt more like a series of semi-connected vignettes than an actual plot with beginning, middle, and end.

    I can’t say I felt like I saw any of the characters grow, change, or even unfold all that much by the time the film reached its conclusion.

    It was compellingly detailed and I was quite taken by its realism. Ultimately though, it left me feeling a bit empty about the experience… but maybe that was its twisted point in some sense?

    I don’t know. I’m not so sure I understand people’s enthusiasm for it.

    Casey Samulski

    16 March 2010 at 20:25


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: