wants to do right now is talk about making another movie.” Bigelow, too, says she would “possibly” be interested in finishing the project.
Tag: The Hurt Locker (1-10 of 10)
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unquestionably derived from the creativity and skill of the writer, directors and producers who conceived, wrote, directed, edited and produced it.” READ FULL STORY
Tales from the box office: The unbearable profitability of bad chick flicks, and does the 'Oscar bump' still exist?
This weekend, children ruled at the box office, as they so often do. Alice in Wonderland continued to prove that its boisterous, overstuffed, clattery fairy-tale landscape is a giant hit with audiences, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid, with a very impressive opening, made good on its feisty promise of a socially awkward, quick-brained nerd’s dreams of acceptance. Right now, though, I’d like to take note of a few of the other stories that the box office told this weekend. Stories that aren’t necessarily pretty, but that take the temperature of today’s moviegoers in revealing, and even fascinating, ways. So here goes:
If you build a bad romantic comedy, they will come (sort of). We’re obsessed in this culture with “winners” and “losers,” so the big news about The Bounty Hunter is that it was “beaten” by Diary of a Wimpy Kid (i.e., it happened to make four-fifths of a million dollars less). To me, however, the real news is that another cookie-cutter synthetic-screwball dud, with the charming Jennifer Aniston being abused by the charmless Gerard Butler, the two of them skulking through the rituals of romcom banter like grim soldiers being put through a drill, managed to withstand a fusilade of lousy reviews to do — big surprise — just fine in the marketplace. The point? That when moviegoers, like so many of you on this site, complain, “Why can’t the studios make a romantic comedy that isn’t a borderline insult?” the answer is: “Because the romantic comedies that are insults have no trouble finding an audience.” That said, I do buy the argument (or, at least, I would like to believe) that if The Bounty Hunter had actually been a good movie, it might have done even more business. Does anyone remember Jennifer Aniston’s very first romantic comedy, Picture Perfect (co-starring Jay Mohr), from 1997? It was terrific! I’ve been waiting for her to make a romantic comedy that good ever since, but if The Bounty Hunter holds on (which, of course, it may not), she’ll have that much less motivation to break out of the ghetto of ersatz chemistry and plastic squabbling. READ FULL STORY
Take a look at the image on the right. That’s Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind — but it might just as well be yours truly trying to figure out the new Academy Awards balloting system, which makes a little less sense to me each time I hear it explained. Okay, I sort of get it: The voters will rank the 10 nominated films in order of preference, which means that to secure a victory, a movie will need to garner a sizable number of second and third place votes on the ballots that didn’t pick it as number one. To me, that would seem to favor The Hurt Locker, a movie that, while “small,” is almost universally admired. The Hurt Locker doesn’t appear to have many detractors; it hasn’t been divisive. Yet according to the Oscar buzz of the week, the new preferential voting system may actually favor…Inglourious Basterds.
That scenario has now been floated, if not flogged, by a healthy handful of entertainment journalists, most relentlessly by Tom O’Neil, who has been pushing his prediction of an Inglourious Basterds triumph for well over a month. (He actually called me out on my “goof” of not including Inglourious on a roster of possible Best Picture winners.) Well, time will tell if O’Neil’s prediction was ahead of the curve, or just bent. What has brought the Inglourious buzz machine to life this week is Harvey Weinstein, who basically decided to go public with the fact that he’s been funneling the movie through one of his legendary if-it-feels-good-it’s-not-overkill Academy Award campaigns. Only a fool would write off a Harvey Weinstein Oscar blitzkrieg. Back in 1998/1999, when he snatched a Shakespeare in Love victory from the jaws of a Saving Private Ryan defeat, it was clear that he’d honed the politics of all this to a new level of Jedi mind-trick effectiveness. READ FULL STORY
Blogging, with apologies to the gods of journalism, is not an exact science, and trying to blog the Academy Awards through the crystal ball of one’s own expectations is really not an exact science. That said, I committed a major blunder in my attempt to size up the Oscar landscape about a month ago. I said that the Best Picture race would come down to a duel between Up in the Air and Avatar – and, what’s more, that the two movies would be competing in a kind of classic Hollywood culture war, with Up in the Air incarnating the entertainment values of the past (the exquisite humanity of great acting and classically clever writing and staging, all employed in a story at once timeless and timely) and Avatar representing the entertainment values of the future (a new kind of sensually intoxicating spectacle, with a technologically driven art so mesmerizing that it may now threaten to make those intimate storytelling virtues irrelevant). The movie I left out of this equation, of course, was The Hurt Locker. But a critic worth his salt always learns from his mistakes, and my prognosticating flub cues me, I believe, to a fascinating lesson. READ FULL STORY
In January, a time warp separates me from my friends and family. I’ve seen everything big now playing at the multiplex; sometimes I’ve seen a movie months ago, and sometimes twice. But everyone else who’s not in the same business as I am is just beginning to have access to those movies, many of which are just going wide now. So, my movie-loving friends and family ask me, “How’s It’s Complicated? What about The Hurt Locker? Have you seen Avatar?” A parent asks, “Can I take my daughter to Fantastic Mr. Fox?” My dentist asks, “What’s worth seeing?”
Thing is, at this time of the year, my own critical assessment has little to do with how I respond. Instead, I become a little bit of a matchmaker, a little bit of a shrink, and a little bit of a listings guide. I mean, I know the value of when to let go of my brilliant argument that Invictus is square and lazy filmmaking, and instead let the cousin who’s a big Matt Damon fan know that she’ll like him as a rugby player. I can talk until I swoon about how much I love The Hurt Locker, but I would never urge it on the friend who hates war pictures and flinches at all scenes of violence; for her, instead, I suggest It’s Complicated — a movie I know she’ll enjoy, much as I harrumphed at it in my review.
So as a service to moviegoing friends everywhere in these first days of the new year — and to my dentist, too — I offer Lisa’s Mild Guide to the Megaplex. And yes, by all means, take your daughter to Fantastic Mr. Fox — it’s great.
Avatar: Big! Blue! Looks great! Forget the script and story!
Crazy Heart: It’s all about Jeff Bridges. Nice music.
Invictus: Morgan Freeman and guys in sports shorts save South Africa!
The Lovely Bones: Have you read the book? Then definitely skip the movie. If not, well, it’s still meh.
Nine: A crazy dull mess. Oh, but you say you liked Chicago? Well, it’s still a crazy dull mess.
The Princess and the Frog: Love it.
A Single Man: Love it. It’s a about a gay man whose lover dies, by the way, whatever the posters suggest.
Up in the Air: Love it. Yes, George Clooney is good.
The Young Victoria: Nice.
The Last Station: Nice, especially for Mom.
Did You Hear About the Morgans?: Awful, especially for humans.
Want to add to my Mild Guide? Here’s your chance.
Image credit: Melinda Sue Gordon
This is my last link to That Movie About Oppressed Aliens, I promise–you may be wondering about now whether all of us at EW have been infected by alien ooze–but I keep thinking about a friend’s response recently when I told him I thought he’d like District 9. “Really?” he said. “The trailer made it look pretty junky.” So I explained that the “junkiness” he saw was an essential part of the movie’s aesthetic and blah blah blah…But the thing is, if all you had to go on when picking the movies you want to see are trailers running at the multiplex or on TV and YouTube, you’re bound to get a pretty screwy sense of how good–or bad–a movie actually is.
Sometimes, true, you can tell: The duller the romantic comedy, the more likely the trailer is to tell you the whole story and use up the best scenes. But more often, preview clips rely so much on sensory saturation to convey elements of action, horror, suspense, or whatever, that it’s impossible for a thoughtful moviegoer to grasp the movie’s actual intelligence–or stupidity. I’ve already seen the trailer for Shutter Island two or three times, and I have no clue about the movie’s story or artistic style. I’m really looking forward to this one–it’s made by Martin Scorsese, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio, I’m there–but the trailer is no help to me. You?
I’ve come to accept that the more sophisticated and innovative a movie is, the worse the trailer is likely to READ FULL STORY
“Is that you, John Wayne?”
So smirks Matthew Modine’s Private Joker in Full Metal Jacket, Stanley Kubrick’s great Vietnam film — and the movie that, more than any other (at least, in its combat-centered second half), casts a stylistic shadow over the hair-trigger raggedy-existential look and mood of Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker. Bigelow, like Kubrick, unfurls her potent and gripping war movie in a desolate trashed landscape of urban detritus, full of jagged zooms and off-kilter angles, where nothing — not God or fate, not your fellow soldiers — can ever truly protect you. In Full Metal Jacket, Joker mocked the very notion of “John Wayne,” because what Wayne represented was the kind of solid, white-bread American heroism that Vietnam had exposed as an anachronism — a Big Lie. The chaos of Vietnam, the movie implied, didn’t breed any more John Waynes. It bred terror and madness: borderline sociopaths dressed as soldiers. READ FULL STORY
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