…and the quest to see everything

Green Zone vs…

(ph. ecranlarge)

I hate comparing one movie with another, but genre theory kind of makes it inevitable. A movie fits a certain canon and either adds to it or does nothing.

Take “Green Zone,” for instance. It’s Hollywood’s rendition of war realism with its share of above average acting and characters, especially with the Middle Eastern players. In other films they’re either raving, invisible, or emasculated. Here, they’re still yelling as loud as the American soldiers, but their anger’s is more intelligent and articulated. General Al-Rawi’s (Yigal Naor) scene with Officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon) especially powerful since it notes the miscommunication on both sides. The movie also introduces an Uncle Tom with a twist in Freddy, a man who ends up being Miller’s interpreter and has his own motivations. The movie also shows the cat and mouse game that’s perfect for urban areas like Baghdad.

The problem in this movie? The yelling. And the gunfire. And the explosion. And the loud score. We get it, invading a Middle Eastern city is loud and messy. But you gotta pace it. In a way, I understand what Iraqis went through just because of the use of sound in this movie. Roger Ebert was all for it and manages to make me feel old, thanks. It was like an hour of gunfire and loud vehicles before I got some rest out of this movie. John Powell should also calm down in the music department. I can already understand how tense the sites are in 2003 Baghdad through diagetic noise, we don’t need synthesized guitar to accentuate that. There’s also no need for the synthesized violins whenever somebody gets preachy. Another thing is the use of digital footage, making the night scenes grainy.

(ph. secret)

“The Hurt Locker,” on the other hand, is a better example of the Iraq war movie although the treatment of characters aren’t perfect. The Iraqis are always two arms length and aren’t the most verbose people. But then again the Americans aren’t either. The closest thing this movie ever gets to reciting three acts of Hamlet is Sgt. Sanborn (the snubbed Anthony Mackie).

Will James (Jeremy Renner) on the other hand, has this superhuman zen calmness while trying to diffuse a bomb. I guess I had to bring up “The Hurt Locker” because of the sound because it helps characterize James’ demeanor despite of the tense situation. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it, but the closest comparison I can come up with is “Jaws.” There were like these long, deep notes playing in the background in the bomb scenes. Without these I’d assume that I wouldn’t hear a pin drop in these scenes, especially since there’s so much cerebral musculature involved in James’ job. He would probably want to concentrate on as few things as possible.

Both movies use puzzles and mazes as metaphors to describe the invasion in Iraq. For “Green Zone,” it’s finding a general in the streets of Baghdad. For “The Hurt Locker,” clipping the right wire in a bomb. Both are easy to execute, but like they said in Serious Film, those missions don’t solve anything.


5 responses

  1. Did you not know that the Green Zone was a war movie before you saw it? Did you expect the actors to sit around and just talk about fighting? Have you seen real clips of Irag firefights? It’s a war movie. It is violent. It is also better than the Hurt Locker. I do not know why that movie is so liked. Is the latter a better war movie than Green Zone? Well, no, because the Hurt Locker got mixed reviews for its realism. It seems bomb disposal units aren’t so crazy and reckless.
    As for the Green Zone, it offered more than just killing and blowing stuff up. Can the message of that movie be any clearer? It says plainly that Bush lied them into war, and that is the boldest statement of any Irag war movie yet made.

    March 18, 2010 at 11:09 pm

  2. Yes, I realized that both movies are war movies. There’s a difference between explosions are gunshots in the right places (Black Hawk Down) and those sounds being noise. There’s a difference between a movie that has nuanced characters and political viewpoints thinly disguised as characters. There’s also a difference between a movie that was released in the summer and, although in perma-limited release is still playing in theatres and a movie that’s gonna dip 40% in proceeds in its second week and after, eventually going to Blu-Ray oblivion and winning no awards.

    And yes, there is a war in Iraq. Are there attacks? Yes. Are there battles? Not really.

    And Green Zone, as many critics have pointed out, is an agenda movie. That’s not a compliment. We all know that Bush lied to us the same way that the American government lied to their people about Vietnam. Do I see movies that overtly say the latter? No. Movies that overtly say the former? Too many times. I don’t wanna be told who’s lying to me during times of war because war as an innate catalyst of genocide and paranoia is enough of a message for me. is If the acting in Green Zone wasn’t good, it would have been preachier than it already is.

    March 19, 2010 at 12:12 am

  3. Yes, Green Zone is a political movie, but that doesn’t make it bad. Damon’s actions are entirely in character. He has a strong sense of right and wrong and believes his country should be accountable. In no way is he a flat character. His motivations are based on his character. He has both strong internal and external motivations.
    As for the Hurt Locker, its appeal lies in Renner’s being a lone gun, a maverick, someone living on the edge. Can you find one bomb disposal expert that finds the movie accurate, or is accuracy less important than the excitement of Renner’s possible, imminent death? Do you know why he behaves the way he does? It is because his motivations are left ambigious that people think his character is nuanced, while a film that tries, like the Green Zone, to make its character’s actions transparent is somehow less real.
    As for amount of money, the amount a film makes is irrelevant. Good films can both generate huge sums or nothing at all. The fact that a film is produced by Hollywood or that it makes money is not a point against the films worth. Little known or indie films are not good solely because they are unknown.

    As for “We all know that Bush lied us into war” ARe you kidding me? Karl Rove said during his recent book tour that the mistakes were honest and not intentional. Is he right? Probably not–but around half of Americans don’t accept their president lied them into war.

    March 21, 2010 at 10:30 am

  4. As a rule, most films with a political agenda are terrible movies. That is unless you’re in the school of thought that say all war movies are pro-war (Truffaut) or all war movies are anti-war (not Truffaut) because of this and that. That’s because political agenda movies spell things out and condescend to the viewer instead of letting us think for ourselves.
    And The Hurt Locker’s being sued by some ex-army guy because he claims that Mark Boal got the story for him. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone out there diffused 800 bombs in his career and having to tell his unresponsive wife and child that he has an obsession to stop the bombs from blowing up and therefore stop the deaths and that’s clearly his intended purpose as said in his lines as written by the screenwriter as shot and screened in the film.
    I think this makes us both horrible people by participating on this faceless tete-a-tete, but if I was gonna look like I needed 48 hours to respond to some whacko on the internet, I just don’t do it. Fortunately I take less than that.

    March 21, 2010 at 12:11 pm

  5. I am not a whacko. This was not an argument, but a discussion. GO FUCK YOURSELF

    March 21, 2010 at 11:36 pm

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