Kathryn Bigelow’s THE HURT LOCKER

the-hurt_lockerI saw THE HURT LOCKER on Sunday night and I can’t stop thinking about it.  My friend Peter and I discussed the film for two hour over drinks and sweet potato fries, even testing ourselves like in our old AFI days with deciphering a proper premise for the film. Film geek alert. 

All the word-of-mouth reviews I’ve heard and the press critqiues I’ve read about this film ARE true.  This is a great story and told with great skill (woman director!!). The cinematography exposes as much of the story as the dialogue, and the writing is magnificent.

The performances are off. The. Hook. It’s a rare thing that you feel like you’re watching a documentary when you aren’t. From the first momentsMV5BNDM1ODcyMzEzNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODIwMTQ2Mg@@._V1._SX600_SY338_, I was IN the film because the performances were so nuanced, confident, and blindly invested. Usually I experience at least five minutes of being distinctly aware of the actors acting.  That they are playing characters. That I’m watching a replication of reality.  THE HURT LOCKER never lets its audience get away with that. Colin FarrellWillem Dafoe and Charlize Theron were originally set to star. I’m so glad they didn’t. In Jeremy Renner I trust. Though I will say that I think he’s an actor that is best fit in period pieces (ASASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES, NORTH COUNTRY) and war-ish movies (28 DAYS LATER). His look doesn’t translate to modern stuff. To me, he’s no F.B.I. agent or 30-something guy looking for love in NYC.

Bigelow on THE HURT LOCKER set in Jordan.

Bigelow on THE HURT LOCKER set in Jordan.

Ms. Bigelow used three to four 16mm cameras to capture docu-style imagery and non-traditional coverage. These shots gave the film an unsettling sense of reality (and the danger of said reality) and set the film in an unmistakable place and time.  In the end, her shooting ratio was 100:1 — more than Coppola’s on APOCALYPSE. I havn’t seen Ms. Bigelow’s other work but I’m going to now.  And I know I’ll be watching THE HURT LOCKER again. Studying it, really, when it’s on DVD.

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