Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

Monday Medley

What we read while not taking pictures with Donald Sterling’s girlfriend…

 

Oscarpalooza: The Hurt Locker

A few months ago, when The Hurt Locker was just a small, art-house movie with a limited release, and not an Oscar nominee, A.O. Scott, in his review for The New York Times, said, “If The Hurt Locker is not the best action movie of the summer, I’ll blow up my car.” He did not mean to damn the film with small praise—he was only highlighting how strong the visceral elements of the movie are. A few weeks later, he wondered why the movie—which he called the best feature of the year—was not marketed as an action movie meant for a wide audience.

Of all the films nominated for Best Picture, only An Education has made less money than The Hurt Locker, whose $19 million worldwide gross is over $2.5 billion less than Avatar’s haul. And yet unlike films like An Education, Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire, and A Serious Man, which generally had to be sold on the prestige of its directors/cast or the emotional complexity of its story, I don’t see why The Hurt Locker could not have found a broader audience. Kathryn Bigelow’s movie is certainly one of the most taut, tightly-packed, suspenseful films of the year; it’s the kind of movie that doesn’t take long to make an impact on the audience. Continue reading

Why Avatar Is Not a Good Movie

I already offered my problems with Avatar when I reviewed it two weeks ago. While I don’t want to repeat myself, that review was written shortly after the film’s opening, before the popular opinion of it had a chance to congeal. In general, opinions of the film haven’t been totally different—though they have been much more positive—from my own: The consensus seems to be that Avatar is visually impressive, if not all that original in terms of story and character.

What has been surprising, though, is how critics and audiences alike do not seem to care about the film’s weaknesses. Almost every review I’ve read, whether from an established critic like Roger Ebert or simply someone’s Twitter feed, has acknowledged the film’s simplicity and derivativeness, and then completely ignored them. In fact, some people have gone even further, saying that the smallness of the story and the characters actually makes the movie better. Sam Adams at The A.V. Club wrote that it’s the film’s political message—and not its visual inventiveness—that is so revolutionary.

Adams’ argument is that the simplicity and obviousness of the film’s message enhances its role as a political invective:

[T]he movie can—and, I think, ought to—be seen as a polemic, which makes criticism of its obviousness beside the point. Having Lang’s colonel refer to his plan to bomb the Na’vi into submission with the words “shock and awe” is not subtle, but it’s not meant to be. Cameron means to be confrontational, and to be sure, audiences looking for a diverting night out are not allowed to overlook the parallels. Continue reading