The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker

Kathryn Bigelow‘s Zero Dark Thirty is currently in limited release and about to go wide, but while it’s unclear what the film’s box-office reception will be the critical one has been fairly unanimous. Unless you count the Academy Awards. Bigelow’s previous visit to the Middle East netted six Oscars including Best Film, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay (for Mark Boal), and like her new one, it faced its fair share of criticism over accuracy. Director and writer both sat down for a commentary track, and while they don’t comment directly on those claims, Boal in particular seems very aware of them. Keep reading to see what I heard with this week’s The Hurt Locker Commentary Commentary…

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Kathryn Bigelow on The Hurt Locker set

Hanging with bikers, vampires and surfing bank robbers, Kathryn Bigelow has made a name for herself chasing after adrenaline. After mixed reviews and a bad box office break for her Soviet submarine flick K-19: The Widowmaker, Bigelow developed one of writer Mark Boal‘s articles into a television series for Fox called The Inside, then chose to work with him to turn his experiences embedded in Baghdad-patrolling bomb squad into The Hurt Locker. The film — which she never took to studios, opting instead for independent financing and freedom — was a marvel, earning a massive amount of critical love and earning both the Oscar for Best Picture and Best Director for Bigelow. She’s a fierce talent who has weathered a decades-long career to emerge as an important modern storyteller who takes on difficult, true-life events and spins them into profound works. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a woman who likes to blow things up for a living.

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In honor of the Fourth of July, we are republishing this article from January 2011, as we feel it to be an appropriate act of patriotism. We will now allow you to return to watching Independence Day for the third time. We know that you’re doing it… Aleric, one of our favorite comment providers on the site, tossed out an interesting theory the other day regarding the state of auspiciously pro-American movies being put out by Hollywood over the past ten years. Specifically, that there was a noticeable lack of them in the face of films that criticize. It’s an interesting idea, and like most trends, it’s unclear exactly how bold a trend it is. It’s true that those looking for the World War II levels of Americana from Hollywood are out in the cold. There are probably a dozen reasons for that. Levels of pro-American movie production have never been higher than that era, but it was also a wildly different time for movie making in general (no matter what the subject matter). Still, Rob Hunter and Cole Abaius were charged with the seemingly difficult task of finding movies that celebrated the United States that came out of Hollywood in the past ten years. It’s an oddly specific list, but it’s also a very good list of movies that demand to be seen (whether you agree they’re patriotic or not). Plus, they don’t celebrate any particular political party. They celebrate the highest ideals of the country. Overt flag waving […]

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Over Under - Large

Kathryn Bigelow is the sort of director who’s been defying perceived gender limitations her entire career. The biggest of those accomplishments came when she became the first woman in history to win the Oscar for Best Director. Her Oscar-winning film, The Hurt Locker, was a tense look at military bomb defusers that created more movie chills than 99% of the horror films that get released in any given year. And it showcased a strong performance from Jeremy Renner that essentially made his career and catapulted him toward being one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. Before she ever won her Oscar, however, she was already defying expectations by shattering the myth that a woman couldn’t direct kick-ass action movies. Her 1991 film Point Break is probably one of the most manly movies ever made. It’s about extreme sports-loving adrenaline junky bank robbers, and it stars Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze as the cops and robbers. But, despite the fact that Point Break has a cult audience, it’s viewed by most as being a guilty pleasure, a relic of the early ’90s when cheesy action movies ruled the day. Maybe it’s because Keanu is milking his dense, surfer persona for all it’s worth, or because the movie is so unapologetically an action film, but people just don’t take Point Break seriously these days. And that sucks, because it’s really well-made.

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Culture Warrior

Editor’s Note: With Landon still celebrating Marcel Pagnol’s birthday, Cole was left to write this week’s entry. Please don’t riot. Every so often, The History Channel will play The Planet of the Apes, and it freaks me out. In recent years, the station has lost the meaning of its name completely, but a few years ago, I genuinely worried that someone would stumble upon the movie in progress, see the logo at the bottom, and be convinced that there was a time in Earth’s history that we were ruled by simians. There’s no proof, but considering that people have tried to rob banks with permanent marker all over their faces as a “disguise,” it seems possible that at least one person would be confused by a non-fiction station about our past playing a fictional movie where Moses pounded his fist into the sand in horror. Maybe there’s no real danger of that, but it still displays a certain power that movies have. They, like all stories, are how we share with each other. From person to person, from culture to culture, movies provide a certain shared sentience. A great story, told well, can transport and give insight into What It’s Like, especially in a world where photography and audio recording are relatively new technologies. The hitch is that there are still limitations to the art. The camera always lies, so even as we grasp toward understanding, it’s easy to be misled when it comes to experiences we have no personal […]

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Culture Warrior

For the first time in recent memory, I’m going into Oscar Sunday having no idea who is likely to take home many of the major awards. I’m sure there are entire websites out there devoted to an accurate prediction of who and what will take home the gold on Sunday, but there seems something a bit different about this year. Of the nine films nominated, I don’t have a clear sense of what would be the top five had AMPAS not changed the number of entries in the top category. While The Artist may clearly have more of a chance than, say, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, there’s no grand battle between likely leads like there was between The King’s Speech and The Social Network last year. And I don’t think I’m alone in stating that this year’s uninspiring list of nominees seems to reflect a growing indifference against the ceremony itself. Sure, on Sunday, like I have every year since I was eleven years old, I’ll watch the entire ceremony from beginning to end. And, like every year since I was twenty-one years old, I’ll make fun of the pompous and excessive self-congratulatory nature of the proceedings. But while in most years I have had some skin in the game, besides the two nominations afforded to the excellent Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and the presence of the transcendentally excellent Pina in the Best Documentary Feature category, this year I didn’t even get a sense that the Academy was awarding […]

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Epic Movie Countdowns: Back to the Future

Yes that’s right – New Years just happened like, a week ago… counting down, people count down on New Years… that’s the point, and it’s as close as I can get to writing about something that relates to the holidays, and it’s way late. And while I first thought to do this because of the end of 2011, it actually turned out to be a fun list to think about. How do you judge the intensity of a ticking clock? It’s not always how close the characters came to zero – sometimes it’s about the process itself, getting to inevitability, fighting time. It’s rather like life, and the knowledge that being on this world is a sort of countdown. Every year is another tick of the clock, leading every one of us to the same inescapable conclusion. So uh… Happy New Year! …Here’s a list counting down countdowns.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that hopes you didn’t forget about it. It was busy getting drunk with other movie news columns at Fantastic Fest. It loves to watch Koreans stab each other. We begin tonight with something simple: a character shot from Toy Story 3. There’s no news here, just beautifully detailed Pixar animation. Since this is my first day back after taking a week off for Fantastic Fest, I thought I’d kick us off with something offbeat. Also, it sets the tone for a week that includes articles collected over the last 10 days. Some old, some new, mostly non-news and all interesting.

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Culture Warrior

Famed British filmmaker Mike Leigh recently received his fifth screenwriting nomination for Another Year. Another Oscar nomination for a highly celebrated filmmaker should be surprising to no one except, in this special case, for the fact that precisely zero of Leigh’s nominated films actually use screenplays. Leigh’s films are constructed through a painstaking and long-term process of creating characters and scenarios with his cast and creative team. His films aren’t improvised in the sense of, say, a Christopher Guest film, where a basic framework exists and actors are allowed to ad-lib and play with(in) that paradigm. Leigh’s films are instead created from the outset through an involved collaborative process. Leigh’s regular team of actors bring to each individual film their construction of a character from scratch. Details arise eventually through this collaboration, and the final work projected onscreen is the end result of a long selection of various possibilities. The only reason Leigh’s films even qualify for screenwriting awards is because of the written script that Leigh creates after the end product has been made. The physical screenplay, in this case, is nothing more than a transcription written after the fact, or a record of a much larger event (whose details are largely unknown to the audience). While Leigh is the sole nominee for Another Year, the creation of the script (or, in this case, the transcript) is just as indebted to the creative efforts of other individuals involved. Stars Jim Broadbent and Lesley Manville are, in a sense, just […]

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‪Every week, Landon Palmer and Cole Abaius log on to their favorite chat client of 1996 as ClairesKneeFan and THXForAllTheFish1138 in order to discuss some topical topic of interest. This week, the two finally manage to answer last week’s question while reveling in the continuation of Sundance and the totally old revolutionary model of distribution that Kevin Smith wants the world to take note of. But instead of wasting more internet words on Smith, the question is far simpler and far too high concept to attempt without some Sandlot references: Is the movie distribution system really broken?

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According to Uwe Boll, his genius is being overlooked. While other directors take on subjects like genocide in Africa and in 1940s Germany to grand approval, Boll has gotten nothing but vitriol spewed at him since the debut of his trailer for Auschwitz. Actually, he’s gotten mostly vitriol spewed on him his entire career. Fortunately, he’s fighting back with words. A lot of them. A metric ton of words. In an interview with Viceland, he had some bold statements to make. We’ve weeded through the block text and grabbed the most outrageous claims and put them in handy bullet formatting for your enjoyment (and sanity). Take a big drink of water and enjoy Mr. Boll’s latest response to haters. You might be surprised.

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So far, the war against film piracy has had a familiar pattern. Unfortunately, it’s a pattern that leads to failure.

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Your daily recommended allowance of random movie stuff, stories that fell through the cracks, and news you can’t use.

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For an industry that is viewed reductively by much of middle America as being politically left-leaning to the point of being out-of-touch with the rest of the country, Hollywood has shown a stagnant lack of progress in terms of gender equality. Actresses’ careers are in jeopardy as soon as they hit 35, it always seems like there’s a dearth of good roles for women, and much of the business behind the camera is dominated by a boys’ club. Particularly striking are the lack of female directors.

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Driving Miss Daisy is one of three films in history, and the only one in modern history, to do something incredible at the Academy Awards. Find out what the phenomenon is inside.

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Tonight, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will hand out the 82nd Annual Oscars. And like any great movie site would, we will be updating our site live along with the ceremony. We will also be live-blogging the event, with much of the FSR staff providing up-to-the-minute commentary on the winners, the speeches, and everything in between. Come join!

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Oscar Predictions: Best Cinematography

There seems to be more discussion about this category than usual, even from casual movie-goers, for one big reason — Avatar. The inclusion of James Cameron’s latest indie featuring copious amounts of CG imagery begs a very basic question: what is cinematography? All that and more is just one click away.

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Oscar Predictions: Best Picture

Read as we break down the films nominated for Best Picture and what their chances are of taking home the prize. We’re pretty sure it won’t be Crash.

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The most illustrious of all the individual awards except for all the others, Best Actor is a coveted prize sought after by everyone working in the industry including actors, producers, gaffers, best boys, and that guy in your high school that plans on moving out to L.A.

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Oscar Predictions: Best Director

Best Director is a tricky category with, like many awards bestowed at the Oscars, a questionable track record. Venerated filmmakers like Hitchcock, Kubrick, and Altman, for instance, never won the award. While it’s arguably impossible to objectively compare different works of art, Best Director is an especially elusive and subjective category that forces one to compare apples to oranges, especially with this year’s nominees.

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