THE HURT LOCKER (Kathryn Bigelow, 2009)
Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Sunday, June 5, 5:30
Monday, June 13, 8:00
Saturday, July 23, 5:00
Series runs June 1 – August 13
Tickets: $10, in person only, may be applied to museum admission within thirty days, same-day screenings free with museum admission, available at Film and Media Desk
Based on embedded journalist Mark Boal’s experiences in Iraq, The Hurt Locker follows a three-member Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit as they are called in to defuse a series of dangerous situations involving various kinds of bombs, including IEDs and other life-threatening explosive devices. Team leader Will James (Jeremy Renner) is an expert bomb defuser and maverick who doesn’t follow protocol and likes to live on the edge. Spc. Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) is a greenhorn who just wants to survive the last forty days of their rotation. And Sgt. J. T. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) likes to go by the book and take no unnecessary chances, which puts him in constant conflict with the unpredictable James. Recalling the second half of Stanley Kubrick’s Vietnam drama Full Metal Jacket (1987), The Hurt Locker unfolds in a series of harrowing set pieces in which the EOD unit is called in to either safely detonate or defuse explosive devices while under the eyes of local Iraqis, any of whom could potentially be the bomber or a sniper. Director Kathryn Bigelow (Blue Steel, Point Break) masterfully builds suspense scene after scene, beginning with the edge-of-your-seat opener through to the gripping conclusion. The experiences of the EOD unit serve as a microcosm for modern warfare in general and the U.S. involvement in the Middle East specifically, placing viewers in the midst of a tense, bitter, psychologically and emotionally draining battle that can never be won. The outstanding cast also features Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes, David Morse, and Evangeline Lilly in small roles; many of the Iraqis were played by actual war refugees. Shot in Jordan not far from the Iraq border, The Hurt Locker is a remarkable story, one of the best war films of the decade.
With The Hurt Locker, Bigelow, who will turn sixty later this year, beat out her ex-husband, Avatar megadirector and producer James Cameron, for the Best Director and Best Picture Oscars at the 2010 Academy Awards. She has made a mere eight feature films in her thirty-year career, all of which will be shown during the MoMA retrospective “Crafting Genre: Kathryn Bigelow.” The series begins June 1 with Bigelow introducing her 1978 short about violence, Set-Up, and her full-length debut, 1982’s The Loveless, followed by a Q&A. Bigelow always adds a twist to her genre pictures, from the vampire thriller Near Dark (1987) and the police procedural Blue Steel (1989) to the futuristic sci-fi fantasy Strange Days (1995) and the historical murder mystery The Weight of Water (2000). And then there’s 1991’s Point Break, a modern surf-camp classic starring Keanu Reeves as an FBI agent determined to catch master bank robber Patrick Swayze; you’ve got to see it to believe it, and even then you’re likely to be completely flummoxed. (Be sure to allow extra time, as MoMA is also displaying storyboards, notes, two of Bigelow’s short experimental works, and other related paraphernalia in conjunction with the screenings.)