Sunday, April 11, 2010

Hurt Locker - THREE stars

Hurt Locker [HL] is a film about war but without the endless mind numbing explosions and gunshot sounds. The explosion sounds and scenes you will hear and see in this film are so aesthetically done that one might forget the seriousness of the situation momentarily, and sit to admire the brilliance with which these are captured.

HL is an Iraq war film with a different perspective. It is not the usual exhaustion inducing, pro or anti Bush rant about the war in Iraq. HL is a story about an elite American bomb disposal squad stationed in Baghdad.

The squad has a recent maverick joinee, Sergeant James, who goes about disposing explosives like he were peeling an orange. Though James is brilliant at what he does, his team is insecure around him because he doesn’t follow the safety norms and is capable of putting his own and other people’s lives in danger.

Director Kathryn Bigelow, who won and Oscar for directing HL concentrates on the events that unfold in the everyday life of the war front liners. She uses the hand held camera and minimal music to keep the authenticity of the happenings intact.

HL is like a thrilling poignant documentary that makes you feel the heat without using too many Hollywood style effect enhancers

This is not a feel good movie, and you are not going to walk home all hopeful and motivated to change the world around you. It is surely worth watching once, given that it is a unique war film which talks about the smaller picture ie an average soldier and does not indulge in the larger so called picture, which as we all know by now was anyways bare. Through the story of a bomb disposal squad, Bigelow accentuates the futility of the Iraq war, without lecturing us about it. Without much ado she is able to silently explain to us why the characters behave the way do - and that in itself is an extraordinary achievement!

All said, I do however cynically wonder if this was a film made just to change the image of the US soldiers demeanor in Iraq, eg. their excesses with the Iraqi prisoners - almost as if Bilgelow wanted to say, "hey, the US soldiers suffered too you know!", that brings me to another question, "is that why she won the Oscar?"

Julie & Julia THREE and a 1/2 stars

Julie & Julia [J&J] is a mouth watering movie. Don’t get me wrong but all the French food cooking, food discussions and the erotic sounds you will hear after foods have been tasted by the two Js, will surely whet your appetite.

This movie is about hunger - the hunger of two women in search of their vision and their resilient pursuit of it. They live decades and worlds apart, but they have one thing in common [amongst others], their love of food.

J&J is based on two real life stories, that of Julia Child and Julie Powell. These were two women who lived in different eras, wanted to excel in French cooking, and went about sharing their learnings with the rest of America. People who have single mindedly pursued something in their lives will surely identify with this film and enjoy it immensely, especially women.

Director Nora Ephron who is also the writer glides you through the movie at a pace that will remind of the books that you read from cover to cover without wanting to get up. She has deftly merged two stories and made one very watchable film

Meryl Streep and Amy Adams both do immense justice to their roles and one often forgets that they are playing roles in J&J. Meryl Streep unsurprisingly delivers a fabulous performance getting the nuances of Julia’s very cheerful persona, right

Both J & J have very supportive husbands, the types who encourage their beloved wife's experiments in the kitchen and put up with their obsessions with a smile. Wish there were more such husbands around!

The frustrations and trials one has to go through to realize one’s dream are captured well in J&J without making it trying. There is a fine balance in how the similarities between J&J are portrayed without diluting their individuality or the distinct contexts they live in

I loved the scenes where - 1. Julie articulates her love for butter 2. She realizes that the veteran Ms Julia is not a big fan of hers, but she anyways continues to love her, 3. Her expression of how she continuously feels Julia around her in mind and spirit etc. etc.

So Julie & Julia is surely a one time watch. Stephen Goldblatt's fresh cinematography and Alexandre Desplat's suitable score complete the film’s fine package